Power and Energy

 

Over the past few years, manufacturing sector has undergone a revolutionary change by implementing the concept of “connected and interconnected devices” to improve productivity and cost-effectiveness. With IIoT (Industrial Internet of Things) from conceptualization to now a reality, the manufacturing sector has witnessed an explosion of data generated on a daily basis. In fact, this unprecedented growth in data seems to have a continual increase due to AIoT (AI + IoT) technologies like Machine Learning, Machine-to-Machine network, high-performance automation and robotic equipment, which all generate mass volume of data.

Nowadays most companies in the industrial sector have established a highly connected production infrastructure, in which production-related devices and equipments such as PLCs are interconnected to enhance productivity and cost-efficiency. This unprecedented connectedness is now referred as Industrial IoT (Internet of Things) and many enterprises in manufacturing, healthcare and utility generation have taken advantage of this technology. However, when mission-critical devices are connected to the Internet, this exposes vulnerability for potential intrusions. In fact, according to recent research, over 80% of the surveyed companies have realized the expenses for being hacked, and many of them had even experienced various types of cyber-threats.

In recent years, utility plant owners have been investigating opportunities and strategies to bring intelligence into substations to enable smart grid paradigm. In a typical digitalized substation, it is obvious to see robust embedded computing gateways with high-performance compute, networking and storage have been integrated to enable control and monitoring of substations. Intelligent HMIs (human-machine interfaces) terminals and protocol-authenticating servers are used to enable communications. All these have contributed to the increasing complexity and footprint of SCADA management in substations.

The introduction of smart grid has revolutionized the conventional approaches of electrical grids in supplying and distributing electricity. Smart grid offers enhanced data communication and automation for power grid so that data regarding power generation and distribution can be collected and analyzed in a near real-time synchronization. Besides the technological benefits, smart grid offers the visibility of all the integrated subsystems and provides predictive information to the control center. The convergence helps critical infrastructure owner to save operating and capital expense.

 

According to the latest published research by Kaspersky about industrial cyber security, a wide majority of surveyed organizations have expressed concerns about OT (operational technology) security. However, only one-third of the survey respondents have deployed some degrees of OT security. Such findings have clearly revealed the vulnerability of utility-generating and mission critical organizations. Apparently, with such level of protection, any deliberate attack like DDoS would devastate a country’s supply of electricity, water, petroleum or gas. In short, the OT asset management remains a challenge for ICS (industrial control system) and SCADA owners and is apparently vulnerable.

Most of today’s SCADA (supervisory control and data acquisition) networks have replaced proprietary protocols with TCP/IP connections in order to reduce operational costs, improve interoperability and productivity, and accelerate deployment times for mission-critical infrastructures. In fact, such technological transformations have continued as owners and management of utility infrastructures demand higher degree of visibility, seamless remote management, and IT/OT convergence

Electrical mobility is expected to enjoy a continuous momentum, thanks to policies in countries with leading economic status implementing either incentives or restrictions. For instance, some countries would ban the use of fuel-consuming vehicles while others provide economical measures to encourage vehicle owners to make a replacement with EV (electric vehicles). Indeed, advanced countries and developing countries have the common objective to reach a zero/low – emission transportation. However, EV growth may be challenged by the concern of “range anxiety”, as some EV owners have the fear of insufficient range to reach their destinations. To counter this fear, there is an increasing number of EC charging stations and some of them offer fast-charging functions.

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