May 19, 2020

University of Arkansas: cybersecurity for solar

Cybersecurity
solar power
University of Arkansas
Knackles
2 min
University of Arkansas: cybersecurity for solar

The University of Arkansas (UoA) has announced that its engineering researchers are currently developing digital defences for solar power units.

Having received funding of US$3.6mn from the US Solar Energy Technologies Office, Alan Mantooth, distinguished professor and electrical engineering faculty director, will be leading a multi-institution team in its efforts to protect grid-connected solar technologies from cyberattacks. 

“As U.S. energy policy shifts toward more diverse sources, particularly solar, the Energy Department understands the critical importance of protecting these systems and technologies,” said Mantooth.

“We’re already developing systems to protect the power grid from cyberattack, and this work will be a logical extension of that effort.”

Protecting a valuable source of energy

Although it has been slower to gain momentum than other regions, such as Europe, solar power in the US is gaining significant traction and the UoA’s research will be critical to ensuring that it is implemented safely. 

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The primary dangers for solar PVs (photovoltaic panels) connected to a power grid are ‘inverters’ - a type of electrical converter which turns the panel’s DC output into a utility-friendly AC output. 

“They are the heart of the PV system,” Mantooth said in an article with PV Magazine.

“Inverters are one of the main connected devices and so if a hacker could take control; inverters would be a primary target because they are accessible and because they perform many smart functions to maintain stability and efficiency.”

By hacking into the PVs’ inverters, perpetrators could shut down the network, overload the batteries or destabilise the grid. 

Leading the research

The project which Mantooth is spearheading will include other institutions and companies across the US, including the University of Georgia, the University of Illinois and Ozarks Electric Cooperative

In addition to stepping-up solar PV protection, the team hopes to improve issues relating to supply chain security, develop real-time threat detection and identify digital defence weak spots. 

For more information on business topics in the United States, please take a look at the latest edition of Business Chief North America

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Jun 18, 2021

Intelliwave SiteSense boosts APTIM material tracking

APTIM
Intelliwave
3 min
Intelliwave Technologies outlines how it provides data and visibility benefits for APTIM

“We’ve been engaged with the APTIM team since early 2019 providing SiteSense, our mobile construction SaaS solution, for their maintenance and construction projects, allowing them to track materials and equipment, and manage inventory.

We have been working with the APTIM team to standardize material tracking processes and procedures, ultimately with the goal of reducing the amount of time  spent looking for materials. Industry studies show that better management of materials can lead to a 16% increase in craft labour productivity.

Everyone knows construction is one of the oldest industries but it’s one of the least tech driven comparatively. About 95% of Engineering and Construction data captured goes unused, 13% of working hours are spent looking for data and around 30% of companies have applications that don’t integrate. 

With APTIM, we’re looking at early risk detection, through predictive analysis and forecasting of material constraints, integrating with the ecosystem of software platforms and reporting on real-time data with a ‘field-first’ focus – through initiatives like the Digital Foreman. The APTIM team has seen great wins in the field, utilising bar-code technology, to check in thousands of material items quickly compared to manual methods.

There are three key areas when it comes to successful Materials Management in the software sector – culture, technology, and vendor engagement.

Given the state of world affairs, access to data needs to be off site via the cloud to support remote working conditions, providing a ‘single source of truth’ accessed by many parties; the tech sector is always growing, so companies need faster and more reliable access to this cloud data; digital supply chain initiatives engage vendors a lot earlier in the process to drive collaboration and to engage with their clients, which gives more assurance as there is more emphasis on automating data capture. 

It’s been a challenging period with the pandemic, particularly for the supply chain. Look what happened in the Suez Canal – things can suddenly impact material costs and availability, and you really have to be more efficient to survive and succeed. Virtual system access can solve some issues and you need to look at data access in a wider net.

Solving problems comes down to better visibility, and proactively solving issues with vendors and enabling construction teams to execute their work. The biggest cause of delays is not being able to provide teams with what they need.

On average 2% of materials are lost or re-ordered, which only factors in the material cost, what is not captured is the duplicated effort of procurement, vendor and shipping costs, all of which have an environmental impact.

As things start to stabilise, APTIM continues to utilize SiteSense to boost efficiencies and solve productivity issues proactively. Integrating with 3D/4D modelling is just the precipice of what we can do. Access to data can help you firm up bids to win work, to make better cost estimates, and AI and ML are the next phase, providing an eco-system of tools.

A key focus for Intelliwave and APTIM is to increase the availability of data, whether it’s creating a data warehouse for visualisations or increasing integrations to provide additional value. We want to move to a more of an enterprise usage phase – up to now it’s been project based – so more people can access data in real time.

 

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