Determining the impact of AI on cybersecurity and sustainability

Courtesy: Chris Vavra

Impact of AI on cybersecurity insights

  • It’s important to implement AI in a pragmatic manner that offers tangible value and practical use cases. AI applications should be explainable, actionable and seamlessly integrated into existing systems to enhance effectiveness.
  • With the increasing connectivity of operational technology (OT) devices to the internet, cybersecurity is more important than ever. AI can help simplify cybersecurity and reduce costs.
  • While AI can improve productivity and reduce costs associated with cybersecurity breaches, it’s crucial to maintain vigilance at both the organizational and individual levels.

It’s difficult to attend any manufacturing or cybersecurity conference these days without artificial intelligence (AI) being a major topic of discussion. The was definitely true at the ARC Industry Leadership Forum in Orlando in early February. Cybersecurity and AI have long been intertwined, but more companies, regardless of industry or focus, are now taking advantage of the technology to help improve efficiency and reduce costs. During a panel discussion, “Empowering Tomorrow: A Perspective on AI, and Cyber Resilience” experts from Honeywell talked about what AI can offer in both manufacturing and cybersecurity.

Joe Bastone, director of Experion Product Marketing at Honeywell Process Solutions, said, “It is critically important any AI application is explainable. Incorporate all the disparate elements into actionable intelligence. How can we make the system better?”

Bastone said developing a pragmatic approach to AI will offer value along with practical use cases that show tangible value to investors for years to come.

Shanita Woodard, product marketing leader for Honeywell Connected Enterprise, believes AI to be part of the landscape. “As we’re thinking about AI and manufacturing execution software (MES), we’re trying to normalize AI and make it unnoticed. We want to make software more effective and people more effective at their jobs.”

Gathering information is another key part of the process, she said. Retaining the knowledge of the workers who have come before will be valuable for the engineers coming in. It’s also important companies parse and manage the large amounts of operational technology (OT) data coming in and contextualize it.

Cybersecurity’s role with AI

Cybersecurity has been a growing concern in the manufacturing sector as more OT devices are connected to the internet. While AI makes it possible to analyze data at greater rates than before, bad actors are looking to take advantage of the situation.

Dimple Shah, senior director, global technology and data policy at Honeywell, said, “When you have individuals involved in the process, they’re only focusing on critical events. We’re improving with AI uses, scaling and productivity. If you’re able to pull the data together very quickly, the average cost of a security breach is $4 million. However, companies using AI cut it in half.”

Shah also warned there’s a misconception, particularly among those not closely involved, when it comes to cybersecurity, saying many seem to think the cybersecurity tools in the toolbox are adequate. The opposite, in fact, is true. Vigilance at the company and individual level is key because the attacks won’t stop.

“We have to enforce our own systems. You have to change your tactics and they’ll have to do the same, but they’re ahead of us,” she said.

To at least give a sense of security at the outset, Bastone said they work to ensure their systems are cybersecure coming out of the box.

“The other part of this journey is after installation, there needs to be a protective umbrella surrounding the product,” he said.

Ganesh Venimadhavan, senior director of offering management for Honeywell, agreed. “We make sure our products went through rigorous testing, and we made sure the data goes one way.” He added the customer has to do the configuration on the back end, but the foundation is at least there for them to do their job safely.

AI augmenting sustainability, energy management

Honeywell’s Forge Sustainability+ platform, is designed to help synthesize and enhance the data engineers are looking for to help improve carbon capture, energy storage and energy efficiency. Courtesy: Chris Vavra

Sustainability also has been a major topic for the last few years as companies are realizing its potential benefits from an environmental, social and governance (ESG) perspective as well as to their the bottom line. With the two aspects coming together, the incentives and benefits make sustainability and energy management appealing.

“It can be all the way from energy saving to aviation fuels,” Venimadhavan said. “We are able to design these units and advanced process controls (APCs) to design these process units much more efficiently.”

Bastone said of their process, “We have industrial controls, process know-how and expertise, and we have our own manufacturing sites. When we’re going off to develop these solutions, we can test in-house first.”

During a demo at the Honeywell booth, Cesar Bravo, director of business development and industrial innovation, discussed their emissions management and leak detection solutions.

He said the goal is to measure, monitor and report, and to reduce emissions. On the measuring side, they use a combination of their Rebellion Gas Cloud Imaging, which looks at everything from up above; third-party systems such as drones; and their Versatilis Signal Scout, which can monitor rogue emissions up close.

Bravo said these systems are combined to create a comprehensive picture of a facility’s emissions that can be monitored and reported on through their Forge Sustainability+ platform, which can help synthesize and enhance the data engineers are looking for to help improve carbon capture, energy storage and energy efficiency.

The emissions view also can be tailored and adjusted from scope down to specific systems so the engineer understands where the leaks are coming from and why. AI can help gather this information and help ensure the relevant data is provided and everything else is filtered out.

“We want to give users a single platform to monitor all data that can be configured,” Bravo said, adding the data is relevant to many stakeholders and requires an overview that everyone understands and can make sense of.

Optimism for the future

AI’s role, whether it’s in cybersecurity, sustainability or improving general production, is still uncertain. While AI is not a new technology or concept, its rise in the public consciousness has helped many realize what it could do.

“This is an exciting journey,” Woodard said. “We’re providing solutions to operators and owners and we’re going to push industrial forward together.”

Bastone agreed. “We’ve made massive changes in how we deploy automation systems. We need to keep the base automation layer fresh and relevant and extensible in the future. [It’s] something I’m extremely excited about.”




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