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Energy harvesting concept

5 for Friday: Start with Energy Efficiency, a Strategy for Cybersecurity and a Survey about Technology Needs

June 9, 2023
Machine Design takes a look at the week past, and a look ahead to the issues facing the design and manufacturing sector.

1. Energy Efficiency and Net Zero

Much has been made about the importance of a carbon-neutral energy future for manufacturing. Discussions about the speed of that transformation continues. But it’s not just the reduction in carbon-based energy that needs to be considered; it’s also the need to use all energy from whatever source as efficiently as possible.

That point was driven home by Danfoss president and CEO Kim Fausing at the International Energy Agency’s (IEA) 8th Annual Global Conference on Energy Efficiency in Versailles, France. Fausing discussed last year’s event in Sønderborg, Denmark, where the Sønderborg Action Plan was adopted, and said the value of efficiency can’t just be seen as an environmental asset.

“In Sønderborg a year ago we proved beyond doubt that the value of reducing energy demand, along with increasing supply, is an essential yet overlooked component of the energy transition. And we illustrated that it’s good for business too, with most solutions having payback times of less than three years.

We know that excess heat—from supermarkets, data centers, industry, wastewater treatment plants—in the EU corresponds to the total energy demand for hot water in residential and service sector buildings. Yet, it’s mostly unutilized,” Fausing added. “Put simply, there will be no net zero future without energy efficiency.”

2. A Strategy for Cybersecurity

Release of a National Cybersecurity Strategy by the White House in March has, according to a website posting from our partners at MxD, “fundamentally shifts the government’s approach to cybersafety. The strategy, announced by the Biden administration in March, promises big changes for all manufacturers, particularly those in critical infrastructure sectors such as the defense industrial base.”

MxD’s release quotes the White House report as stating, “Our goal is a defensible, resilient digital ecosystem where it is costlier to attack systems than defend them, where sensitive or private information is secure and protected, and where neither incidents nor errors cascade into catastrophic, systemic consequences.”

The responsibility for that ecosystem, according to the strategy, is going to shift to the product vendors. “Too many vendors ignore best practices for secure development, ship products with insecure default configurations or known vulnerabilities, and integrate third-party software of unvetted or unknown provenance.”

MxD also noted that, “for the second year in a row, manufacturing was labeled the top extortion target for cybercriminals by the IBM Threat Intelligence report.”

Laura Élan, MxD’s senior director of cybersecurity said that in addition to improving cybersecurity, “the strategy is also aimed at harmonizing cybersecurity requirements to avoid having disparate systems from multiple government agencies all affecting the same sectors.”

“Another big part of defending critical infrastructure will be the strategy requirement to report attacks, which will enable organizations to know who the bad guys are and the methods that they’re using,” she added in the press release. “Bad guys don’t break into hospitals any differently than they break into manufacturing plants.”

To help Machine Design readers address cybersecurity, we have partnered with MxD on identifying the seven fundamental cybersecurity threats.

3. DX Meets ROI

For all the discussion around digital transformation (DX), you’d think there’d be more of a consensus that the digital plant can deliver operational and productivity gains. While that’s the message among industry suppliers, there still seems to be uncertainty in the corner offices.

Cloud enterprise software supplier IFS sponsored a research project with IDS, entitled “Shaping the Future of Manufacturing.” In a poll of 160 senior manufacturing leaders in the Americas, Europe and Asia, researchers found that while 53% of manufacturers continue to invest in digital initiatives to support their core business operations, 62% were unclear on the ROI from those digital transformation initiatives. “If this continues,” IFS officials said in a press release, “manufacturers risk losing competitive advantage and jeopardizing the scale and deployment of future initiatives.”

The good news is that those manufacturers who are reaching what IFS called “digital maturity are seeing that return on investment. “The survey shows that manufacturers reporting an optimized level of DX saw profits increase (40%)—while those with less advanced DX maturity suffered bigger reductions in profit in the last fiscal year,” the IFS report stated. The report also noted, “Manufacturers’ main obstacles—increasing labor costs (61%), growing costs for raw materials (42%), and supply chain issues (42%)—continue to be prioritized.

“However, firefighting against these immediate challenges has distracted manufacturers from differentiating their operations. With no immediate signs of relief from disruption, manufacturers must adapt their business models and focus on areas beyond their typical core domains.”

4. And What do You Think? Tell us

Machine Design is now conducting a survey to ask readers what technologies they are employing now, and what they expect the next five years of technology innovation. We’re also looking to get reader views on what factors go into making a decision on new technology, and how you want to receive information about the technology to help you make those evaluations.

This survey, and the reader discussions we hope will follow, offer you the chance to get the kind of information you need to evaluate issues such as digital transformation, robotics and others in the more useful way possible. Please take five minutes and take the survey today.

5. Welcome to Sharon Spielman

We’re pleased to introduce Sharon Spielman as Machine Design’s new technical editor. Sharon has more than three decades of experience as a writer and editor for a range of B2B brands, including those that cover electrical design and manufacturing; interconnection technology; food and beverage manufacturing; process heating and cooling; finishing; and package converting.

As technical editor, Sharon produces content for the brand’s focus audience—design and multidisciplinary engineers. Her beat will include 3D printing/CAD; mechanical and motion systems, with an emphasis on pneumatics and linear motion; automation; robotics; and AR/VR.

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