Harrison Manufacturing deploys Sawyer robot to increase throughput

Harrison Manufacturing deploys Sawyer robot to increase throughput

Sawyer robot from Rethink Robotics takes over cutting work from human colleagues at Harrison Manufacturing in Mississippi.

Harrison Manufacturing, a US-based custom plastics injection molding manufacturer, has taken a step forwards in automating its assembly line.

At its Jackson, Mississippi facility, the company recently deployed the Sawyer robot from Rethink Robotics in a bid to boost the efficiency of its production processes, with a knock-on bonus for product quality.

Company founder and president Scott Harrison said that the family-owned business has already seen a range of benefits, including reduced labor costs and increased throughput, and adds that the robot only took a few hours to set up.

Read more: IIoT and the rise of the cobots

Sawyer gets to work

With Sawyer, Harrison Manufacturing has also been able to improve the consistency and quality of its products, mostly plastic components for use in the automotive industry (including parts that go into interior trim, safety belts and car seats) and consumer products.

Sawyer works on ‘degating’ plastic parts, a job that involves removing excess plastic from a finished part once it emerges from injection molding. This cutting work is repetitive, said Harrison, and can lead to human error, wrist strain and even injury in staff.

“We’ve been seeking an automation solution for this task for some time, but traditional methods weren’t affordable or effective for our situation,” he said. The company simply does not have the floor space to accommodate a bulky traditional robot, nor would it want to foot the costs involved.

Sawyer has provided an answer. The one-armed robot with a compact footprint was launched by Rethink Robotics in 2015 at prices starting at around $ 29,000. Its main selling point is the ease with which non-techies can program the robot to perform simple tasks on manufacturing lines without having to first learn in-depth programming skills.

“Sawyer allowed us to use our employees in less strenuous tasks, while increasing throughput with extended shifts, so we can better meet growing customer demands,” said Harrison.

He now has plans to install a second robot. “I have another Sawyer in the box,” he confirmed. “After our experience of quick deployment with the first robot, I expect it to be up and running just as smoothly as before.”

Read more: Could hackers force industrial cobots to go rogue?

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Internet of Business

Five key IIoT predictions for 2018: Collaboration, customer success, edge computing, and more

The global industrial IoT market is set to reach $ 933 billion by 2025, according to Grand View Research. Here, Sastry Malladi, CTO of FogHorn Systems, outlines what he think will happen in the space in 2018.

Momentum for edge analytics and edge intelligence in the IIoT will accelerate in 2018

Almost every notable hardware vendor has a ruggedized line of products promoting edge processing. This indicates that the market is prime for Industrial IoT (IIoT) adoption. With technology giants announcing software stacks for the edge, there is little doubt that this momentum will only accelerate during 2018. Furthermore, traditional industries, like manufacturing, that have been struggling to showcase differentiated products, will now embrace edge analytics to drive new revenue streams and/or significant yield improvements for their customers.

Additionally, any industry with assets being digitized and making the leap toward connecting or instrumenting brownfield environments is well positioned to leverage the value of edge intelligence. Usually, the goal of these initiatives is to have deep business impact. This can be delivered by tapping into previously unknown or unrealized efficiencies and optimizations. Often these surprising insights are uncovered only through analytics and machine learning. Industries with often limited access to bandwidth, such as oil and gas, mining, fleet and other verticals, truly benefit from edge intelligence. What’s more, those that apply edge intelligence are able to benefit from real-time decisions, as well as insights from voluminous streaming sensor data.

Due to the current pain points in the IIoT space and the edge technology availability to address them, we expect to see increased interest in edge analytics/ML from oil andgas, energy, utilities, transportation and other sectors interested in revamping their IIoT value.

Business cases and ROI are critical for IIoT pilots and adoption in 2018

The year 2017 was about exploring IIoT and led to the explosion of proof of concepts and pilot implementations. While this trend will continue into 2018, we expect increased awareness about the business value edge technologies bring to the table. Companies that have been burned by the “Big Data Hype” – where data was collected but little was leveraged – will assess IIoT engagements and deployments for definitive ROI. As edge technologies pick up speed in proving business value, the adoption rate will exponentially rise to meet the demands of ever-increasing IoT applications.

IIoT standards will be driven by customer successes and company partnerships

IIoT is just now getting attention from the major technology players. If anything, 2018 will see more new products coming to market, and there will be more to choose from in terms of standards. The next year or two will see stronger alliances, unlikely partnerships and increased merger and acquisition activity as the large technology companies seek innovation inside and outside their organizations. As for standards, they will be driven by success of customers and patterns of scalable IIoT solutions.

IT and OT teams will collaborate for successful IIoT deployments

IIoT deployments will start forcing closer engagement between IT and operations technology (OT) teams. Line of business leaders will get more serious around investing in digitization, and IT will become the cornerstone required for the success of these initiatives. What was considered a wide gap between the two sectors – IT and OT – will bridge thanks to the recognized collaboration needed to successfully deploy IIoT solutions and initiatives.

And will OT design affect IIoT apps? Yes, definitely. Recent research and field studies suggest that analytics tools are being made more accessible to end users, i.e. domain experts and plant operators. This means that advanced technology is now being made available to field workers, so operational decisions can be driven in real-time at the industrial location.

Edge computing will reduce security vulnerabilities for IIoT assets

While industries do recognize the impact of an IIoT security breach there is surprisingly little implementation of specific solutions. This stems from two emerging trends:

  • Traditional IT security vendors are still repositioning their existing products to address IIoT security concerns
  • A number of new entrants are developing targeted security solutions that are specific to a layer in the stack, or a particular vertical

This creates the expectation that, if and when an event occurs, these two classes of security solutions are sufficient enough. Often IoT deployments are considered greenfield and emerging, so these security breaches still seem very futuristic, even though they are happening now. Consequently, there is little acceleration to deploy security solutions, and most leaders seem to employ a wait-and-watch approach. The good news is major security threats, like WannaCry, Petya/Goldeneye and BadRabbit, do resurface IIoT security concerns during the regular news cycle. However, until security solutions are more targeted, and evoke trust, they may not help move the needle.

iottechnews.com: Latest from the homepage

US regulator repeals net neutrality rules, threatening future of IoT

U.S. regulator repeals net neutrality rules, threatening future of IoT

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has voted to dismantle net neutrality, granting internet service providers (ISPs) the power to prioritise and hinder web traffic at will – with worrying implications for the future of IoT.

The FFC voted three to two, on Thursday, to undo rules regulating companies that provide consumers and businesses with access to the internet. The result sees the net neutrality regulations introduced in 2015, prohibiting ISPs from blocking content or charging a premium for certain services, repealed.

The move also means the federal government will no longer regulate high-speed internet in the same manner as other utilities, classifying it as an information service, rather than telecommunications.

The view of the Trump administration and the FCC, under  chairman Ajit Pai, is that the change will enable innovation and more diverse product offerings to customers in the long-run.

However, there are serious doubts (beyond the major ISPs) that the repeal is in the best interests of end users and the clear majority of tech companies. The sore lack of internet service competition in America will likely grow worse, and without competition there is little incentive for providers to offer the best services.

Why net neutrality matters

The internet is a digital extension of ourselves. It is where many of us go to learn, work, play, communicate, and record the meaningful moments in our lives. Yet it is a surprisingly fragile thing, this infrastructural web that allows us to navigate time zones, cultural differences and language barriers in an instant.

Until now, with a reasonable internet connection, Americans have largely been able to do any of these things without the danger of being somehow inhibited by their broadband provider (beyond archaic data caps).

Whether you’re watching Netflix, conducting a webinar, or creating content, ISPs have treated that data equally – not prioritising or restricting access to it in any way. However, the FCCs decision opens the door to ISPs setting up pay walls or otherwise limiting certain services and traffic types in any way they see fit. In other words, as World Wide Web founder Tim Berners-Lee explains, “they’ll be able to decide which companies succeed online, which voices are heard – and which are silenced.”

When Berners invented the World Wide Web in 1989, he didn’t have to pay any fees or ask anyone for permission to make it available over the internet. It was simply a case of creating it and connecting it. With net neutrality repealed, innovators could be required to negotiate with ISPs to get their product onto internet packages.

Read more: OneWeb aims to bridge digital divide with internet satellites

The impact of net neutrality on IoT

In the early days of ISPs, technical limitations prevented them from throttling certain types of traffic. Net neutrality regulations were introduced as part of the Open Internet Order, under President Obama, to ensure new advancements weren’t employed to undermine the ideals on which the internet as we know it was built. There’s now a danger that ISPs will become all-powerful gatekeepers, rather than focusing on providing good, unbiased connectivity.

The impact of the loss of net neutrality on the data-hungry IoT is potentially profound. IoT device and service companies may find themselves at the mercy of ISPs, having to pay for preferable traffic treatment or risk a hobbled product. This would accelerate the centralisation of IoT, favouring the bigger companies and hampering future innovation and disruption.

Net neutrality and web security

There are also security implications raised by ISPs interfering with web traffic. “The removal of net neutrality is likely to decrease transparency on the internet, and less transparency will increase cybersecurity threats. As ISPs implement different behaviors for managing, filtering and altering content, we’re going to develop towards a bunch of different internets, instead of one internet,” warned Tim Erlin, vice president of product management & strategy at cybersecurity company Tripwire. “It may not be at the forefront of the net neutrality debate, but these changes will ultimately increase the attack surface available to criminals.”

This also raises the prospect of web security becoming a premium product. “If ISPs are no longer required to pass traffic unaltered, they can simply stop end-to-end encryption entirely. Why wouldn’t an ISP charge businesses and individuals more for supporting encrypted traffic?” said Erlin.

Read more: PureLiFi imagines bright future, where every light’s an internet access point

Preserving a democratic web

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman estimates that thousands of Americans’ identities were stolen for use in spam campaigns supporting the net neutrality repeal. Natural language processing techniques have also raised doubts over the authenticity of over a million pro-repeal comments submitted to the FCC.

The political and legal battle over net neutrality is far from over. Opposition from U.S. Congress and legal challenges from Democratic state attorney generals may yet see the repeal undone. There is already talk of legislation to reinstate the rules, though this would take time. The FCC will also likely face legal action from of the Internet Association, the trade group representing tech firms such as Google and Facebook, who have been vocal in their disagreement.

“The internet industry opposes Chairman Pai’s repeal of the 2015 Open Internet Order. Today’s vote represents a departure from more than a decade of broad, bipartisan consensus on the rules governing the internet,” stated the Internet Association. “Relying on ISPs to live up to their own ‘promises’ is not net neutrality and is bad for consumers.”

The way in which FCC chairman Ajit Pai has gone about mocking opponents of the repeal will add to the ire – as will his claims of “restoring internet freedom”. Furthermore, reassurances from the order’s proponents, that internet services will not change, begs the question: if that is true, why repeal net neutrality?

At Internet of Business, we aren’t mollified by commissioner Mr O’Rielly’s assurances that fears over net neutrality’s unravelling are a, “scary bedtime story for the children of telecom geeks”. In the interest of open innovation, free communication and democracy itself, net neutrality should be upheld.

Read more: Governments should intervene on IoT security

The post US regulator repeals net neutrality rules, threatening future of IoT appeared first on Internet of Business.

Internet of Business

MIT SMR Contributors Prominent on 2017 ‘Thinkers50’ List

In November, the Thinkers50 announced its 2017 ranking of the 50 top management thinkers in the world. The ranking was launched in 2001 and is published every two years.

Twenty-three of the top 50 have contributed to MIT SMR, either as authors or interviewees. They include:

Don Tapscott
Clayton Christensen
W. Chan Kim & Renée Mauborgne
Michael Porter
Marshall Goldsmith
Richard D’Aveni
Rita McGrath
Erik Brynjolfsson & Andrew McAfee
Pankaj Ghemawhat
Vijay Govindarajan
Nilofer Merchant
Hal Gregersen
Hermann Simon
Zhang Ruimin
Anil Gupta
Lynda Gratton
Gary Hamel
Tammy Erickson
Morten Hansen
Henry Chesbrough
Julian Birkinshaw

We congratulate our contributors on this honor and invite readers to explore their work further on our website. Here are just a few examples of their recent work:


MIT Sloan Management Review

Internet Of Things: Five Ways To Overcome Security Challenges

The promise, benefits, and value of the Internet of Things (IoT) have been documented extensively, but a number of widely publicized IoT attacks leaves the impression that the IoT is deeply insecure. What is often not mentioned is that many of these attacks originated due to failures in implementing basic protections.

But even where the vendor has taken reasonable precautions, things can go horribly wrong, as can be seen in a – literally – fly-by attack on smart lighting.

Another challenge is that IoT-enabled devices are deployed “where the action is” – the factory floor, oil platforms, public roads, offices, stores, moving vehicles, or in cities running over wireless networks.

That means that they are often physically accessible by employees, contractors, and even the general public. If we compare that to modern cloud data centers, where only authorized personnel can enter, there is a substantial difference. More people with access means the risk of compromise goes up, so we may need to ensure devices themselves are physically protected against tampering.

But these are not insurmountable obstacles. The question is less one of not knowing what to do to protect IoT environments, rather how to implement and apply security measures to keep the solution safe.

Five recommendations for securing the IoT

1. Manage risk

Modern security practices follow a risk-based approach that considers both the ease of an attack and the impact should one happen – giving a strong indicator of how much security you’ll need. The reality is that an IoT solution that monitors, manages, and optimizes operations in a chemical factory requires much tighter security protocols than one that simply turns off the light in a conference room when sensors detect nobody is present. In the former, a successful attack could lead to a catastrophic industrial accident including injury and loss of life. In the latter, the worst that could happen is that an electricity bill is a little higher.

2. Limit device-to-device communication

There is a misconception that the Internet of Things, by definition, means that many devices are connected to many other devices, increasing the risk that a successful attack leads to catastrophic failure or takeover of a substantial portion of your IoT infrastructure. In many cases, devices have a single purpose and only need to send the data they collect to a single location. By limiting the number of IoT devices that talk to each other, we can better secure each one and limit the damage should any breaches occur.

3. Retain control over your IoT infrastructure

The risk is yours – any failure in security is your responsibility and you will be held accountable for the result – so it is important to maintain control. This starts with device selection: Make sure that devices either have the security features you need or, preferably, are “open” so you can analyze and understand how they work, and then add any features you need to fill security gaps. This includes the ability to update devices in an automated and secure way and to control that process yourself.

4. Use encryption from end to end

It’s critical to encrypt communication between devices and data-ingestion points to make sure nobody can listen in, tamper with sensitive data in transit, or recover enough information to spoof or impersonate the device and feed the system manipulated data. Modern encryption techniques work in much the same way as HTTPS does to protect information online. Encryption also needs to be tied to device identity to ensure the data we think comes from a particular device actually does.

5. Leverage existing expertise

Apply proven security technologies, tools, and best practices used in traditional IT landscapes. In many cases, they can be implemented directly: by using digital certificates or equivalent, by restricting what IoT devices can do and communicate with, and by adding protection and monitoring mechanisms. In other cases, such as micro-controllers and low-power networks, we may need to apply new techniques, but we can draw on existing principles and concepts.

IoT adoption is still in early days. Unfortunately, that means that there aren’t many established standards yet, and while the number of devices brought to market is quickly rising, certification schemes and regulations are lagging. As a result, adopters still need to carefully plan and build in security from the start and properly evaluate any IoT equipment brought in house.

As large technology providers recognize the security challenges with new IoT technologies and software solutions, the situation is rapidly improving. At SAP, we’re also committed to both describing the pitfalls and providing clear guidelines to overcome them.

This article originally appeared on the SAP Community.


Internet of Things – Digitalist Magazine