This quick post simply seeks to set context for software leaders hoping to help with the Industrial Internet, or “Industry 4.0” as many say in Europe, just highlighting a few points commonly missed by software leaders first stepping into industrial settings, particularly with the recent multi-hundred billion dollar projections on the size of the market for industrial internet software.
Unfortunately, many of us with strong backgrounds in software don’t often realize the scale of time and cost at which most industrial plants operate. Relining a blast furnace can cost $100M. In auto manufacturing, each minute of downtime for a manufacturing plant costs $22,000 on average. That’s $1.3M per hour, nearly three times more expensive than unplanned downtime costs for the average Information Technology (IT) organization. Some pipelines move $32,000 of oil per minute. That’s over $1.9M per hour. In that context, it’s no wonder that plant operations teams often view planned and unplanned maintenance with a bit more intensity than most IT teams. It’s also no wonder that companies are investing aggressively to optimize systems where a 10% improvement can produce gains of more than $200M per year for typical manufacturing plants. It's equally clear why "security" means "availability" to these operational teams who have so much need to protect the uptime and integrity of these systems. That's in direct contrast to traditional Information Technology (IT) teams who often must protect "confidentiality" and "secrecy" at the cost of uptime. That's an important distinction as manufacturing companies look to carefully leverage these smart technologies to improve their performance.
According to many, the past 350 years of manufacturing are marked by three revolutionary advances: the steam engine for generating mechanical power, then electrification of manufacturing, and most recently, digitalization of manufacturing through simple Programmable Logic Controllers (PLC). Many industrial leaders in Europe believe that they can produce a “fourth” such leap, “Industry 4.0,” by lashing digital manufacturing systems into highly virtualized, decentralized, and modular, plants leveraging interoperable real-time systems to yield “smart” factories which outperform current manufacturing plants by the same degree to which mechanization, electrification, and digitalization have improved manufacturing in centuries past. Beyond “linear” improvements such as the “10%” mentioned above, such digitally “integrated” plants will have the flexibility and agility to not only keep pace with increasingly nimble competition, but to stay ahead of them.
Of course, that connectivity brings both tremendous promise and risk. Having belabored pipeline explosions and steel blast furnace damage from cyber attacks in past posts, I won’t repeat myself here, especially since Symantec has already given the “Dragonfly” attacks against Western energy companies such great in depth coverage. However, I will promise here that next month’s blog will propose a path “forward” for security of such next generation Industrial Control Systems (ICS), not only leveraging the cornerstones of security for the Internet of Things (IoT), but also describing how they can be applied to the ICS of the Industrial Internet and Industry 4.0. In the interim, if you’re impatient, feel free to read up on our latest security solutions for embedded systems at www.symantec.com/iot.
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