Recently a segment on my favorite morning news program stopped me in my tracks. The young and attractive hosts (why are they always so young and attractive?) were demonstrating new appliances including a smart refrigerator. The fridge was equipped with all kinds of high-tech features including touch screen displays, a camera inside that allows you to see the contents and Wi-Fi connectivity. You can see inside your fridge while grocery shopping, how convenient! But I must ask, how secure is it?
The Internet of Things (IoT) is revolutionizing everything from home appliances, nanotechnology and cloud computing, to manufacturing. Advancements are enabling manufacturers to become more innovative, productive, efficient and globally competitive. Computers, the internet, and digital devices are positively impacting communication, operations, product developments, and more. As we increase our connectivity we must also be aware of the importance of cybersecurity for manufacturers.
Jared Newman recently wrote in Fast Company, “Smart homes and other connected products won’t just be aimed at home life. They’ll also have a major impact on business. And just like any company that blissfully ignored the Internet at the turn of the century, the ones that dismiss the Internet of Things risk getting left behind.”
The Importance of Cybersecurity for Manufacturers
Technology has evolved and empowered manufacturers in a variety of ways, and companies have become increasingly reliant on computer systems and IT. Because of this, cybersecurity has emerged as such a critical topic in the industry. Strong cybersecurity practices are crucial to:
- Defending your company’s vital data and information.
- Preventing theft or damage to your infrastructure, equipment and systems.
- Avoiding major disruptions to operations and the delivery of products.
- Protecting your employee’s personal information.
- Shielding your organization from negative publicity.
Manufacturers are unfortunately a frequent target of hackers and attackers. According to a report from the U.S. Department for Homeland Security, manufacturing is the second highest industry with the most reported cyber attacks, only subsequent to the energy sector. Foxconn, an international manufacturer of electronics, was attacked in 2012 and all of its employee’s login information was released publically. A Honda breach in 2010 resulted in the disclosure of personal vehicle identification numbers.
A Kaspersky Lab Survey of IT managers published in Virus News also found that “21 percent of manufacturers suffered a loss of intellectual property (IP) within the past year.” The most commonly cited reason was malware (computer viruses, spyware, etc.), although a host of related issues including software susceptibilities and misplaced or stolen mobile devices were listed as causes as well.
Three Tips for Improving Cybersecurity
Cybersecurity is a complex issue and there are no “quick fixes” to address it. IoT has made security an even more difficult challenge. However, there are things you can do to improve your cybersecurity posture. Here are three important factors to consider:
- Be proactive about prioritizing cybersecurity initiatives: Lapses in cybersecurity are very costly. An IndustryWeek article, “Cyber Security on the Factory Floor,” highlighted studies showing that “the average cybersecurity data breach costs more than $3 million.” Don’t wait to get hit.
- Prepare for the worst: In a Manufacturing Business Technology article highlighting the 2016 biggest cybersecurity issues facing manufacturers, cybersecurity professional Andrew Ginter, said, “The biggest mistake I see routinely is an overemphasis on vulnerabilities in cyber-risk assessments, rather than attacks.” Don’t just focus on the short-term—your organization needs a developed contingency plan in the event of an attack. Conducting a simulation of an attack has been beneficial for manufacturers looking to develop a comprehensive plan.
- Communicate with employees and vendors: Human error occurs, which is why everyone from the CEO and down should be trained about cybersecurity and data protection. Include policies in your employee manuals and regularly have your staff trained on best practices.
Digital Manufacturing Pilot
NIST MEP is working to improve cybersecurity for small- and medium-sized manufacturers across the U.S. We have partnered with the Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation Institute (DMDII) to operate a joint Digital Manufacturing Pilot. This pilot will address technical opportunities and challenges and also assist manufacturers with a basic understanding and implementation of digital manufacturing approaches.
In addition to improving cybersecurity, the partnership will address specific topics under the digital manufacturing umbrella, including innovative engineering approaches and improved supply chains operations.
As the Internet of Things evolves and becomes a fixture in manufacturing, cybersecurity will continue to be an issue that small manufacturers must address. As you connect more and more devices to the internet, ask yourself, “how secure is it?”
LSU Construction Management Professor Jonathan Shi, who is leading the university’s new Industrial Innovation Center, speaks with students at the flagship campus in Baton Rouge. LSU is one of just 34 institutions across the country that have received a federal grant to establish an IIC. Photography by Don Kadair
In 2015, the federal government designated roughly 25 south Louisiana parishes—stretching from Lake Charles to Baton Rouge and down to New Orleans—as the “Louisiana Chemical Corridor.” It’s one of 24 Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnerships across the U.S. Unfortunately, no federal dollars came with the label.
But the hope was that IMCP regions, having demonstrated a willingness to collaborate across the public, private and nonprofit sectors, would move to the front of the line when federal agencies were considering grant applications.
“By breaking down silos and encouraging communities to take a more thoughtful, comprehensive approach to their strategic plans, we are ensuring that precious federal dollars are used on the most high-impact projects and in a way that maximizes return on investment,” former U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker said when announcing the IMCPs.
“It’s a win for the companies, it’s a win for the students involved and it’s a win for the university. The big thing would be to get industry more involved with the university.” —Charlie D’Agostino, executive director, LSU Louisiana Business & Technology Center
Last November, the Louisiana Chemical Corridor partnership notched its first win, when the Department of Commerce granted $498,624 to establish an Industrial Innovation Center at LSU. Of the more than 215 organizations nationwide that applied, LSU was one of 34 to receive a grant meant to “make U.S. communities, businesses and the workforce more globally competitive.” Two other Louisiana entities benefited from the same round of grants: Baton Rouge’s Research Park Corporation received $250,000 for its Louisiana Deal Flow Accelerator, while the New Orleans-based Propeller Social Impact Equity fund got the same amount.
The IIC at LSU will host an “innovation think tank” of engineering experts at the university who will work with the region’s plant operators and industrial contractors to identify their needs, explains Jonathan Shi, the LSU construction management professor who is leading the project. The group will connect users with “innovators,” possibly university researchers or private sector inventors, who can address those needs. Louisiana Economic Development and the Baton Rouge Area Chamber, both coalition partners, may help recruit innovators from outside the region if necessary, Shi says.
“We start with the chemical manufacturing industry,” he says. “We ask them, ‘What are the needs for technology innovation?’ We use those needs as a starting point.”
It’s not unusual for a company to pay LSU to develop a product or process, with the results of that research belonging to the company. The IIC will take a similar approach, except that the research will be meant to benefit the corridor as a whole, and the results will be shared by the various partners.
IIC projects will target three different user groups: Plant operators, industrial contractors, and a mixed group of owners, employers and training providers focused on workforce development. It will utilize and expand the resources available at LSU’s Louisiana Business & Technology Center.
LBTC will provide space and LSU student interns, who can help with both the technological work and the business and marketing model for the product, says LBTC Executive Director Charlie D’Agostino. A chemical engineering student might have the chance to work with a chemical manufacturer for two years and be trained in the company’s culture, ready to hit the ground running with a job after graduation.
“It’s a win for the companies, it’s a win for the students involved and it’s a win for the university,” D’Agostino says. “The big thing would be to get industry more involved with the university.”
The research topics have not been selected. Lee Jenkins, executive manager with Performance Contractors, suggests early projects could focus on efficiency and “improving deliverability of products.”
“My first thought was, ‘How can this help LSU, and how can this help fund some positive research activities and programs that can really benefit our industrial community?’” Jenkins says. “I think it is absolutely a source of connectivity between all those involved.”
The recent growth spurt for the state’s industrial sector has leveled off, he says, partly due to low oil prices. But he’s “cautiously optimistic” for the future.
Chemical manufacturers tend to focus on developing their own products, processes and employees, says Tom Yura, who manages BASF’s plant in Geismar.
“It’s sometimes very hard to get going on innovation when it’s a broad, general topic,” he says. “Having this institute to work on general information and general innovation … is something we just have not had.”
Take workforce, for example. As employees retire or leave the industry, plant operators and contractors want help researching and developing solutions to find and prepare the next generation of workers. Energy efficiency, water usage and environmental sustainability also could be on the agenda, Yura says.
The IIC at LSU is the first outgrowth of the Chemical Corridor coalition’s work as a federal Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership. Future projects might focus on “smart manufacturing,” in which real-time information and analytics are used to make chemical manufacturing processes more efficient, Yura suggests.
IMCP was an initiative of former President Barack Obama’s administration. With new officials in charge of the federal bureaucracies, will the designation still matter?
“If you can provide certainty about the new administration, let me know,” Yura deadpans.
But participants are working on the assumption that the IMCPs will still be relevant in the years to come. Promoting domestic manufacturing is a cornerstone of President Donald Trump’s economic agenda, so they hope his administration will support a program meant to make manufacturers more viable and create more American jobs.
Only a month after the U.S. Department of Commerce awarded LSU a grant to establish the Industrial Innovation Center, the Department of Energy selected the university as one of 28 institutions to set up and operate regional Industrial Assessment Centers. Like the Industrial Innovation Center, it will be directed by LSU construction management professor Jonathan Shi. LSU engineering faculty and students will assess small- and medium-sized manufacturing business partners, defined as having gross annual sales less than $100 million, fewer than 500 employees and annual energy bills between $100,000 and $2.5 million. In exchange for hosting the hands-on training opportunities, the manufacturers receive an assessment they can use to improve their operations. LSU’s grant is worth almost $1.5 million over five years, subject to ongoing congressional appropriations. A total of $35 million was awarded to the 28 institutions, with LSU receiving the 11th-highest grant. The U.S. Department of Commerce says the 28 institutions will “provide site-specific recommendations to small manufacturers with opportunities to improve productivity, secure information, reduce waste and save energy while providing training for undergraduate and graduate engineering students in manufacturing processes, energy assessment procedures and energy management systems.”
HOW TO GET INVOLVED
Interested in participating in the LSU Industrial Innovation Center, either as part of a user group charged with identifying needs or as an innovator responsible for meeting a need? You can contact director Jonathan Shi at email@example.com, or business manager Rebecca Harris at firstname.lastname@example.org. More information can also be found online.
BATON ROUGE— LSU is one of 27 universities across the country to receive funding from the U.S. Department of Energy to construct and operate an Industrial Assessment Center, or IAC. IACs provide training for undergraduate and graduate engineering students in manufacturing processes, energy assessment procedures and energy management systems.
The IAC at LSU will enable students to perform on-site assessments of small and medium-sized manufacturing businesses with the help of LSU engineering faculty.
“Our team is proud to bring an IAC to LSU for the first time in LSU’s history,” said Jonathan Shi, the Art E. Favre Industrial Construction Chair at LSU.
LSU will receive about $1.5 million over five years. The award will be in the form of cooperative agreements and are subject to congressional approval. Over the past 40 years, the IAC program has provided more than 17,000 assessments and more than 130,000 recommendations for energy-saving measures.
The IAC program offers newly expanded services in the areas of “smart” manufacturing, cybersecurity, water or wastewater and energy management systems. The actions recommended by an IAC will result in energy savings, potential enhancements and related information technologies for manufacturers at the heart of the U.S. economy.
Energy Department Announces Universities to Lead Industrial Assessment Centers Program
FULL LIST OF AWARDED UNIVERSITIES: https://energy.gov/eere/amo/articles/industrial-assessment-centers-project-descriptions
– See more at: http://www.lsu.edu/mediacenter/news/2017/01/30engineering_shi_iac.as.php
Industrial Assessment Centers – Project Descriptions
The Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) today announced nearly $35 million, subject to appropriations, for 28 higher education institutions from 25 states across the country to set up and operate regional Industrial Assessment Centers (IACs). The centers will provide site-specific recommendations to small manufacturers with opportunities to improve productivity, secure information, reduce waste, and lower energy costs while providing training for undergraduate and graduate engineering students in manufacturing processes, energy assessment procedures, and energy management systems.
Led by engineering faculty, students at the selected IACs will perform on-site assessments at small- and medium-sized manufacturing business partners, currently defined as having gross annual sales below $100 million, fewer than 500 employees, and annual energy bills between $100,000 and $2.5 million. In exchange for hosting the hands-on assessment training opportunities, these small- and medium-sized manufacturers receive an assessment that the company can use to improve their operations.
In addition to these services, the IAC program has grown to offer newly expanded services and encouraged applicants to propose creative approaches to providing IAC services in the areas of Innovative “smart” manufacturing; cybersecurity; water/wastewater; and energy management systems. When implemented by the company, the recommended actions will result in energy savings, potential enhancements, and related information technologies for these manufacturers at the heart of the U.S. economy.
“Energy efficiency remains the nation’s lowest cost energy resource—one that offers cost savings, improved competitiveness, and jobs,” said Kathleen Hogan, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency. “The IACs help address a growing shortage of engineering professionals with applied energy-related skills and train the next generation of energy engineers while bringing efficiency, waste, and water improvements to a broad range of small and medium manufacturing firms.”
Universities chosen to host the IACs will each receive between $1.25 million and $1.75 million over five years, subject to congressional appropriations. These financial assistance awards will be in the form of cooperative agreements.
Read the full list of awarded universities.
In addition to announcing awarded universities for the IAC program, EERE’s Advanced Manufacturing Office today also announced two new opportunities for funding:
EERE intends to issue a funding opportunity announcement entitled “Extending Industrial Assessment Centers to Underserved Areas.” The goal is to extend the program to underserved areas to encourage a broader and more diverse set of performers and to further expand the geographic reach of the IAC program. Read more about this notice of intent.
Up to $5 million, over five years and subject to appropriations, is now available for a technical field manager for the IAC program. The technical field manager will be a liaison between the AMO technology manager and the individual IACs and will provide technical assistance and outreach to all 28 centers. Read more about this funding opportunity.
This year also marks the 40th anniversary of the IAC program. Throughout the years, the IAC program has provided more than 17,000 assessments and over 130,000 recommendations for energy-saving measures and continues to endure and provide impactful opportunities.
More information about the IAC program can be found on the IAC web page.