Toyota Research Institute
Toyota Robots Learning 650b169d8331e

So That Happened: Robots Go to Kindergarten at Toyota, Cyber Criminals Seek the Cloud

Sept. 20, 2023
IndustryWeek editors look into those stories as well as scholarships for skilled trades programs and Johnson & Johnson's new look.

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.

Cyber Rain Clouds and Usual Suspects

Today, cybersecurity company Palo Alto Networks released a report on attack surface threats, i.e. how cybercriminals will target and attempt to infiltrate your manufacturing IT systems.

The more you employ or consider using cloud computing, software-as-a-service and remote work, the greater your attack surface becomes as they all require external connections to your IT network.

Bad actors, argues the report, can within hours scan a network for vulnerabilities. It takes more than three weeks, the report continues, for organizations to discover and address those vulnerabilities. Websites and remote access services were the weakest spots in organizations' IT networks, accounting for 22% and 20% of data exposures.

According to the report, 20% of an organization's cloud attack surface is taken offline every month and replaced with new or updated services. Moving things around creates opportunities for cybercriminals to sneak something onto your networks along with all the files your IT department moves around during the updates. And 80% of the worst data exposures for organizations studied in the survey took place in the cloud.

Manufacturers’ IT security and networking infrastructures were the attack surfaces in 48% of cases, with file sharing and remote access services coming in at 19% and 12%.

Rockwell Automation released yesterday a cybersecurity report titled "Anatomy of 100+ Cybersecurity Incidents in Industrial Operations." Key findings include:

  • A 2000% increase in 2022 of bad actors targeting common industrial protocols.
  • Better detection tools explain in large part why the number of reported incidents continues to increase.
  • SCADA systems are the target in 49% of attacks, with PLCs targeted in 20% of attacks.
  • 65% of the time, manufacturing-related cyberattacks have broad effects on supply chain, not just on the company that suffered the attack.
  • The energy sector was by far most often targeted, in 39% of attacks. Critical manufacturing came in at 11%.
  • 80% of incidents began with IT system compromises and 80% of threat actors were external to the target organization.
  • 60% of attackers were State-sponsored groups.
  • Phishing is the most common technique to access OT, representing 34% of attacks. 

Dennis Scimeca

Supporting Skilled Trades Scholars

Sheridan College has awarded the Schulich Builders Scholarships for Skilled Trades to 10 students entering certificate and diploma programs this fall. Launched in 2023, the program awards scholarships to students who meet the eligibility criteria and are enrolling in a full-time skilled trades program at participating colleges.

One hundred scholarships will be awarded annually across 10 Ontario colleges to combat the shortage of skilled labor in Canada; the financial assistance will support tuition, tools and living expenses.

Sheridan received a $325,000 gift from the Schulich Foundation earlier this year as part of the new program. The college has provided five $40,000 scholarships for students pursuing a two-year diploma program and five $20,000 scholarships for students in a one-year certificate program.

“Having access to this significant funding will be life-changing for these students – and the scholarships will also inspire other learners to pursue rewarding, and essential, careers in the skilled trades,” says Janet Morrison, president and vice chancellor of Sheridan.

This year’s Sheridan recipients will pursue a variety of fields, from electrical engineering to mechanical plumbing to welding.

Learn more about the Schulich Builders Scholarships for Skilled Trades here.

Anna Smith

Peanut Butter and Robots at Toyota

“If you can teach a border collie to talk, you can teach a robot to fold clothes,” goes the saying we just made up. Some next-level robot learning is happening at Toyota Research Institute, where the descendants of pick-and-place machines are rapidly learning more dexterous skills like pouring liquids, peeling vegetables, loading the dishwasher and flipping pancakes. They master the activities within hours through a human teacher; haptics that convey touch through force and vibration; repetition: and practicing/refining the activities after they’re taught. TRI marketing materials cleverly call the learning space “a kindergarten for robots.” 

The applications for caregiving in an aging population, which has been a focus of TRI, are front and center, with the domestic nature of the tasks (our favorite: spreading peanut butter on a piece of bread—so relaxing to watch). But stay tuned for manufacturing applications as well. 

What's happening in robot kindergarten "has the potential to quickly enable a robotic system to do something new or different, taught by someone without any robotics knowledge,” Max Bajracharya, senior vice president of robotics at TRI, said in an email.  “For example, in a factory setting, when a process needs to be updated or changed. It can also address some very challenging, less structured tasks in manufacturing, such as routing wire harnesses or applying sealer. However, this work is still very experimental and at an early stage, so will take some time to achieve the level of reliability and robustness required for a real manufacturing environment.”

Readers, what would you like a robot to do in a manufacturing environment that it can’t already do? Share your pain points and hopeful ideations in the comments section.

Laura Putre

Johnson & Johnson Ventures Forth With New Outlook, Logo 

The Johnson & Johnson logo has received a refresh in alignment with what the healthcare company describes as a new era focused on "healthcare innovation and tackling the toughest healthcare challenges." The New Brunswick, N.J., manufacturer's familiar cursive logo has long been inspired by the signature of company founder James Wood Johnson, who first signed an official J&J check back in 1886. 

Now, more than 130 years later, that logo is being displaced by what Johnson & Johnson describes as a "modernized" look. It's still red. It still uses an ampersand. It no longer employs a cursive font.

Why now? you might ask. If you remember, Johnson & Johnson announced in late 2021 that it would spin off its consumer health business (think Tylenol, Listerine, Neutrogena, for example). That new company, named Kenvue Inc., began trading on the New York Stock Exchange earlier this year. Johnson & Johnson reported in late August that it had secured $13.2 billion in cash proceeds from the Kenvue debt offering and IPO. It also has a 9.5% equity stake in Kenvue.   

Meanwhile, Johnson & Johnson says it will concentrate on two segments: pharmaceuticals and medical technology. The pharmaceutical segment, currently hosting the name Janssen, will transition to the name Johnson & Johnson Innovative Medicine, while the medtech segment already bears the J&J moniker.  

"Uniting our diverse businesses under an updated Johnson & Johnson brand reflects our unique ability to reimagine healthcare through transformative innovation, while staying true to to our credo values and the level of care that patents and doctors expect of us," said CEO Joaquin Duato in a press announcement. 

The new branding will roll out over time.

Jill Jusko

About the Author

Anna Smith | News Editor

News Editor


Bio: Anna Smith joined IndustryWeek in 2021. She handles IW’s daily newsletters and breaking news of interest to the manufacturing industry. Anna was previously an editorial assistant at New Equipment DigestMaterial Handling & Logistics and other publications.

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

Jill Jusko

Bio: Jill Jusko is executive editor for IndustryWeek. She has been writing about manufacturing operations leadership for more than 20 years. Her coverage spotlights companies that are in pursuit of world-class results in quality, productivity, cost and other benchmarks by implementing the latest continuous improvement and lean/Six-Sigma strategies. Jill also coordinates IndustryWeek’s Best Plants Awards Program, which annually salutes the leading manufacturing facilities in North America.

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].


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