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So That Happened: BMW Tops US Exports and Reader's Movie Picks

Feb. 22, 2023
In our news roundup, IndustryWeek editors look into those stories, another company shedding PFAS chemicals and hitting manufacturing leaders over the head with the cybersecurity awareness hammer.

Editor’s note: Welcome to So That Happened, our editors’ takes on things going on in the manufacturing world that deserve some extra attention. This will appear regularly in the Member’s Only section of the site.

New Report Hits You Over the Head About OT Cybersecurity

Industry is overwhelmingly the most popular target for ransomware attacks, and it's gotten bad enough that hackers developed manufacturer- and industry-agnostic malware to target industrial control systems (ICS) and operational technology (OT).

Those are the two main points we culled from Dragos's new report, ICS/OT Cybersecurity Year In Review 2022. Dragos specializes in industrial cybersecurity so the report gets deep into the weeds about threat groups, specific cyberattacks last year and how these attacks actually work. It's fodder for cybersecurity professionals versus our more general audience, hence why we won't get too deep into it on IndustryWeek.

However, regarding those two main points, according to the report ransomware attacks increased by 87% last year and those attacks targeted manufacturing in 437 cases. The next, highest industry on the list is food & beverage, at 52 attacks. Third place goes to energy at 29 attacks, after which the numbers fall precipitously.

The report also shares details about Pipedream, the aforementioned agnostic software designed to hit ICS/OT. It's not the first ICS-specific malware but is the first that's scalable and cross-industry. Dragos in the report also "assesses with high confidence" that Pipedream is the creation of a state actor (read: supported by a government). It's always good to see that the Russians foreign adversaries keep things interesting on the cybersecurity front (insinuation ours, not Dragos's).

If these are weeds you'd like to brave or if you know someone that would, you can download the full report here.

Dennis Scimeca 

German Engineering, Spartanburg Muscle

Move over Ford and GM. Yep, Tesla, scooch right down that row of heated leather seats to make room for the top U.S. auto exporter nine years running.

That’s right, it’s … BMW. The German automaker’s 8-million-square-foot Spartanburg, South Carolina, plant exported 227,029 passenger vehicles in 2022—to Germany, China, South Korea, Canada and Great Britain. The total dollar amount of those exported vehicles—$9.6 billion—is higher than that of any other automaker, according to data from the U.S. Department of Commerce.

The Spartanburg plant also happens to be BMW’s largest plant worldwide, its 11,000 employees producing upwards of 1,500 vehicles per day.

Remember when a certain titian-haired president-elect criticized German carmakers for having a trade advantage over the U.S. (Something about rich Germans not buying Chevys, while BMWs fill the streets of New York?) We don’t, either.

Laura Putre

Milliken & Co. Bid Bye Bye to PFAS

With the catchy monicker “forever chemicals” for their ability to not break down and degrade, per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (a.ka. PFAS) haven’t had a great time throughout the past 12 months.

Producers are facing multiple lawsuits for environmental damage caused by their use, regulators are targeting the materials for more oversight and several producers (most notably 3M) are giving up on the market, because who wants to be known as the last company producing potentially harmful substances?

Clearly, Milliken & Co. doesn’t want that distinction. Unlike 3M, which expects to take until 2025 to phase out PFAS use, the textile division of Milliken says it’s already done removing the materials from its textile fibers and finishes portfolio, becoming the first U.S.-based multi-market textile manufacturer to remove PFAS. 

 “This is a tremendous accomplishment and tribute to our team who worked around the clock to develop solutions that meet our customers’ performance requirements and reflect our purpose to positively impact the world for future generations,” said David Smith, executive vice president, Milliken & Co., and president of its textiles business.

As of Dec. 31, 2022, the Textile Business at Milliken had removed PFAS-based finishes and fibers, which spans multiple industries including flame-resistant, military, uniform and decor fabrics. In 2020, the company looked for new materials to replace PFAS for three purposes: Durable water repellency (DWR), soil release and oil repellency.

Repelling water was the easiest, company officials said. But, keeping dirt away was much tougher. Milliken developed new technologies to release soil that meet or exceed PFAS’ performance in most applications. Some dirt repelling still works best with PFAS, and the company couldn’t find any substitute to repel oil, so, “The company exited those lines of business as a result.”

Robert Schoenberger

“The Breakfast Kaizen Club” Wins IndustryWeek’s Fake Movie Poll

Get Molly Ringwald’s people on the phone, and let’s start building that movie set with some Kanban boards and 5S posters. And please, somebody get me a script with some good gemba walk jokes and a subplot about a lean master blackbelt who only uses Six Sigma terms.

Following up on our editorial about the lack of modern manufacturing in movies and tv shows, we asked which fake movies you thought could drum up interest in industrial jobs. In the early days, “National Lampoon’s Chip Shortage Plant Shutdown Vacation” took an early lead, but (I suspect) Gen-X and its love of John Hughes films eventually beat out what would likely have been a problematic Chevy Chase performance.

My personal favorite, “Say Anything (to Your Supervisor and See What Happens)” crawled up from a distant No. 4 in those early days to finish third.

The good news—we have a title. Now, we just need a script, actors, sets and a studio willing to bankroll the production.

Robert Schoenberger

Main image courtesy of BMW, vehicles awaiting shipment in South Carolina.
About the Author

Dennis Scimeca

Dennis Scimeca is a veteran technology journalist with particular experience in vision system technology, machine learning/artificial intelligence, and augmented/mixed/virtual reality (XR), with bylines in consumer, developer, and B2B outlets.

At IndustryWeek, he covers the competitive advantages gained by manufacturers that deploy proven technologies. If you would like to share your story with IndustryWeek, please contact Dennis at [email protected].

 

About the Author

Laura Putre | Senior Editor, IndustryWeek

I work with IndustryWeek's contributors and report on leadership and the automotive industry as they relate to manufacturing. Got a story idea? Reach out to me at [email protected]

 

About the Author

Robert Schoenberger

Editor-in-Chief

LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/robert-schoenberger-4326b810

Bio: Robert Schoenberger has been writing about manufacturing technology in one form or another since the late 1990s. He began his career in newspapers in South Texas and has worked for The Clarion-Ledger in Jackson, Mississippi; The Courier-Journal in Louisville, Kentucky; and The Plain Dealer in Cleveland where he spent more than six years as the automotive reporter. In 2014, he launched Today's Motor Vehicles (now EV Manufacturing & Design), a magazine focusing on design and manufacturing topics within the automotive and commercial truck worlds. He joined IndustryWeek in late 2021.

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