May 16, 2020

Tackling cyber security in the age of smart manufacturing 

Cyber Security
Dominic Fahy
4 min
The global smart manufacturing market is booming, expected to grow over 15% annually for the next five years, reaching almost $480 billion by 2023.


The global smart manufacturing market is booming, expected to grow over 15% annually for the next five years, reaching almost $480 billion by 2023.

But while smart manufacturing is an overwhelmingly positive trend, allowing production lines to respond to real-time developments and keeping the sector relevant and efficient, there is one key obstacle. As the volume of smart tools on the factory floor increases, so does the chance of being a victim of cyber crime.  

Cyber hacks are a continuous threat, with the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre revealing it dealt with more than ten attacks a week since 2016. Over 90% of UK businesses suffered some form of cyber security breach in 2017 and the manufacturing sector accounts for almost half of cyber attacks. With the introduction of connected cloud-based tools, smart manufacturing introduces multiple entry points that cyber criminals can exploit in a variety of ways, from low level data theft to taking control of systems – a real concern in an environment where technologies interact directly with physical operations.      

Manufacturers must adapt their security approach to suit the age of smart manufacturing, ensuring they can harness the benefits such as streamlined production and increased efficiency, while minimising susceptibility to cyber crime. Here’s how:    


Lock down system access

Passwords are no longer sufficient to protect critical systems. If they are simple enough to remember then they are easy enough to hack, but if they are more complex they need to be recorded or communicated which presents opportunities for theft. A recent US government report outlining how easily weapons systems can be hacked revealed poor password hygiene, with multiple default passwords never updated by the Pentagon and, in one instance, a password was guessed in just nine seconds

Instead of relying on passwords, manufacturers should consider biometric-based user authentication to give bespoke levels of access to specific individuals. By using details such as fingerprints, retina scans, and vein patterns that are almost impossible to fake but relatively simple for employees to present, manufacturers can dramatically increase the security of their systems.    


Continuously monitor for security gaps

Smart technologies are often introduced to factories gradually, making it difficult for manufacturers to gain a holistic view of all system entry points and to ensure these are protected. To minimise the risk of cyber security breaches, manufacturers must create a comprehensive map of all systems, the devices that access them, and the data that flows between them, which is updated on a regular basis.

This network must be monitored continuously to pinpoint and fortify potential weak spots and to identify unusual activity that may indicate a security breach. Manufacturers must also have a robust response plan in place should a cyber attack occur, and ensure this plan is effectively communicated throughout the organisation.         


Never miss security updates

Installing the latest software updates as soon as they are released is vital to the integrity of all systems, whether those updates are scheduled upgrades or ad hoc patches created in response to specific threats. Ensuring systems remain up to date may sound like common sense, but failure to implement security updates is frequently a factor in cyber attacks, for instance a SingHealth server that was hacked in Singapore this year had no software updates for over 12 months.

Manufacturers might be understandably hesitant to install updates that require halting systems and downtime on the production line, alongside incurred costs and lost time such a delay entails. But doing so leaves them vulnerable to hackers exploiting known weaknesses in older versions of software, which could be far more costly in the long term.     

Smart manufacturing is vital to maintain the relevance, efficiency, and productivity of the sector, and brings a wealth of benefits as long as manufacturers ensure their approach to cyber security evolves alongside these new technologies. It’s a serious business and shouldn’t be overlooked – but it also needn’t be feared. By locking down system access, continually monitoring all systems for potential threats, and implementing software updates as they are released, businesses are better prepared to thrive in an age of smart manufacturing.     


By Dominic Fahy, Head of Architecture, Engineering, Construction & Manufacturing at Canon UK

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May 12, 2021

Ultium Cells LLC/Li-Cycle: Sustainable Battery Manufacturing

2 min
Ultium Cells LLC and Li-Cycle join forces to expand recycling in North America, recycling up to 100% of the scrap materials in battery cell manufacturing

Ultium Cells LLC - a joint venture between General Motors and LG Energy Solutions - has announced its latest collaboration with Li-Cycle. Joining forces the two have set ambitions to expand recycling in North America, recycling up to 100% of the scrap materials in battery cell manufacturing


What is Ultium Cells LLC?

Announcing their partnership in December 2019, General Motors (GM) and LG Energy Solutions established Ultium Cells LLC with a mission to “ensure excellence of Battery Cell Manufacturing through implementation of best practices from each company to contribute [to the] expansion of a Zero Emission propulsion on a global scale.”

Who is Li-Cycle?

Founded in 2016, Li-Cycle leverages innovative solutions to address emerging and urgent challenges around the world.

As the use of Lithium-ion rechargeable batteries in automotive, industrial energy storage, and consumer electronic applications rises, Li-Cycle believes that “the world needs improved technology and supply chain innovations to better recycle these batteries, while also meeting the rapidly growing demand for critical and scarce battery-grade materials.”

Why are Ultium Cells LLC and Li-Cycle join forces?

By joining forces to expand the recycling of scrap materials in battery cell manufacturing in North America, the new recycling process will allow Ultium Cells LLC to recycle cobalt, nickel, lithium, graphite, copper, manganese and aluminum.

“95% of these materials can be used in the production of new batteries or for adjacent industries,” says GM, who explains that the new hydrometallurgical process emits 30% less greenhouse gases (GHGs) than traditional processes, minimising the environmental impact. Use of this process will begin later in the year (2021).

"Our combined efforts with Ultium Cells will be instrumental in redirecting battery manufacturing scrap from landfills and returning a substantial amount of valuable battery-grade materials back into the battery supply chain. This partnership is a critical step forward in advancing our proven lithium-ion resource recovery technology as a more sustainable alternative to mining, " said Ajay Kochhar, President, CEO and co-founder of Li-Cycle.

"GM's zero-waste initiative aims to divert more than 90% of its manufacturing waste from landfills and incineration globally by 2025. Now, we're going to work closely with Ultium Cells and Li-Cycle to help the industry get even better use out of the materials,” added Ken Morris, Vice President of Electric and Autonomous Vehicles, GM.

Since 2013, GM has recycled or reused 100% of the battery packs it has received from customers, with most current GM EVs repaired with refurbished packs.

"We strive to make more with less waste and energy expended. This is a crucial step in improving the sustainability of our components and manufacturing processes,” concluded Thomas Gallagher, Chief Operating Officer, Ultium Cells LLC.

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