5 minutes with Schneider Electric’s Victor Lough
Why is cybersecurity important for manufacturers?
Cyber-attacks no longer focus only on stealing credit card numbers from banks. Disruption of core business processes via industrial control systems at manufacturing sites is also on the hacker agenda. When it comes to protection from cyber-attacks, most of us think of firewalls. However, firewalls are only one aspect of what now needs to be a comprehensive defence in breadth and depth security strategy for the Operational Technology (OT) environment. Cyber security is now evolving from a set of simple tools used to fend off attacks from hackers to a more formal approach of managing business risk.
Can you talk me through the current cyberthreats faced by manufacturers?
The attack landscape is getting wider, as the industry digitises and becomes more connected. Every connected device is associated with an endpoint that hackers could pinpoint to infiltrate and manipulate the entire digital ecosystem. Today’s smart factories now have hundreds - and even thousands - of connected sensors. A holistic approach to cybersecurity - from product security to supply chain protection - is imperative to mitigate this.
Another significant threat faced by manufacturers is their facility’s regular exposure to third-party access. It’s very common for external vendors/field service engineers to be granted privileges to access OT devices through their own laptops and USB devices, the internet, or fully hosted environments with little control. This broader access poses risk even if there is no inherent malicious intent. The attack surface widens with each connected laptop or thumb drive.
What is the best strategy for manufacturers when it comes to cybersecurity?
Account for cybersecurity in both product and process. Cybersecurity today is no longer an afterthought or a bolt-on solution. Digital products should be made resilient as they are developed and built in the factory. Once installed, these solutions are supported by services that allow factories to maintain high levels of protection and low levels of risk as the cybersecurity outlook continues to evolve.
Organisations that are introducing smart machines onto their plant floors should look to expert partners to perform audits to reveal any potential weaknesses or exposures in the system. Engineers with security responsibilities should then be consistent in downloading all cybersecurity software updates on a regular basis.
What is driving the need for smarter and stronger cybersecurity in manufacturing?
The increase in remote monitoring and third-party access has also led to a rise in cyber vulnerabilities. The IoT connected devices that have enabled so many businesses to quickly transition to homeworking bring challenges along with their benefits. These tools have essentially increased the ‘attack surface’ for hackers and, in many cases, have acted as an organisation’s Achilles heel.
With only 16% of cybersecurity professionals having more than a week to ensure that remote systems were secured before making the shift to remote working, it’s fair to say that the preparation for remote-access related security threats is far from mature in most cases. However, companies must now be taking stock of the new technology they have implemented. Building an awareness of the current risks is the first step in mitigating them.
Timeline: Tesla's Construction of Gigafactories
Tesla's mission to accelerate the world's transition to sustainable energy
Founded in 2003, Tesla was established by a group of engineers with a drive to "prove that people didn’t need to compromise to drive electric – that electric vehicles can be better, quicker and more fun to drive than gasoline cars." Almost 20 years on, Tesla today is not only manufacturing all electric vehicles, but scaleable clean energy generation and storage too.
"Tesla believes the faster the world stops relying on fossil fuels and moves towards a zero-emission future, the better," says Tesla. "Electric cars, batteries, and renewable energy generation and storage already exist independently, but when combined, they become even more powerful – that’s the future we want. "
In order to deliver on its promise of "accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy through increasingly affordable electric vehicles and energy products," Tesla's Gigafactory journey began in 2014 to meet its produciton goals of 500,000 cars per year (a figure which would require the entire worlds supply of lithium-ion batteries at the time).
By ramping up its production and bringing it in-house, the cost of Tesla 's battery cells declined "through economies of scale, innovative manufacturing, reduction of waste, and the simple optimisation of locating most manufacturing processes under one roof." With this reduction in battery cost, "Tesla can make products available to more and more people, allowing us to make the biggest possible impact on transitioning the world to sustainable energy."
2014: Giga Nevada and Giga New York begin construction
Born out of necessity to meet its own supply demand for sustainable energy, Tesla began the construction of its first Gigafactory in June 2014, in Reno, Nevada, followed by its Buffalo, New York facility the same year. "By bringing cell production in-house, Tesla manufactures batteries at the volumes required to meet production goals, while creating thousands of jobs," said Tesla.
2016: Reno, Nevada grand opening
Tesla’s construction of Giga Nevada came to an end in 2016, the first of its Gigafactories to complete its construction project. The factory’s grand opening took place in July 2016, and by mid-2018 reached an annual battery production rate of 20 GWh, which made it the highest-volume battery plant in the world that year.
2017: Giga New York begins production
Two years after Tesla’s second Gigafactory began construction, Giga New York was complete, and started its production operations in 2017.
2019: Giga Shanghai construction to production in record time
In 2019, Tesla selected Shanghai as its third Gigafactory location. The company constructed the factory in record time, taking just 168 working days from gaining permits to finishing the plant's construction.
2019: Giga Berlin begins construction
Announced in November 2019, Tesla began the construction of its first European Gigafactory in Berlin. The Gigafactory is still under construction.
2020: Giga Texas begins construction
The following year in August 2020, Tesla began the construction of its Giga Texas factory. The company’s third Gigafactory in the US is still under construction.
2021: Giga Texas and Giga Berlin expected completion of construction
Looking to the future, Tesla expects to complete the construction of its Giga Texas and Giga Berlin factories in May 2021 and July 2021 respectively.