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DOE Helping Eaton Power a Safer Future

Utilities are crucial infrastructure and as a result often surface as key targets for cyberattacks. After all, stripping power from entire regions would be difficult to overcome.

Unfortunately, current utility systems do not distinguish between electrical faults and disruption caused by a cyberattack. Eaton and NREL are working together to test, prototype and commercialize new technology that will help utilities identify the source of an intrusion, obtain the intelligence needed for recovery and gain insight into potential network vulnerabilities.

Michael Regelski, senior vice president, R&D for Intelligent Power Management Solutions and Electrical Sector chief technology officer at Eaton tells IndustryWeek, it is a complex challenge to distinguish between disruptions due to the physics of the electric grid and the malicious attacks that intend to disrupt the system. “Ultimately, better understanding of the baseline system and normal disruptions is key to isolate the root causes of abnormal behavior disturbances,” he says. “The main challenge is in creating a detection mechanism that applies all topology permutations from both the cyber and physical perspectives.”

Power management company Eaton recently announced that it was awarded a grant from the U.S. Department of Energy Technology Commercialization Fund (TCF) to further research initiatives to provide utilities with the intelligence needed to accurately detect, respond and recover from a cyberattack. Eaton is partnering with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) on the project.

“Companies need trusted tools to improve the cyber resilience of their critical infrastructure,” says Regelski. “We’re developing a data-driven system that enables accurate and rapid recovery from cyberattack. This technology complements our comprehensive organization-wide approach to cybersecurity and preventive measures.”

Under the Department of Energy grant, Eaton will address the security gap at the edge-level of the power system through threat detection and real-time warning of potential conditions threatening grid stability and business integrity. The project timeframe is 18 months with an anticipated start in January 2021.

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FedEx SenseAware

Time for Tracking to Improve?

Whenever a vaccine is ready for distribution to the global population, its distribution is sure to create an entirely new batch of challenges. Accurate tracking that goes beyond the traditional scanning that many logistics providers leverage will prove instrumental, especially as security concerns surface. 

To combat these challenges FedEx recently announced the launch of SenseAware ID, a lightweight sensor-based logistics device that delivers a new level of precision tracking. The enhanced location visibility provided by this technology will create opportunities for FedEx customers to reimagine their supply chain through real-time updates on a package’s location within the FedEx Express network. SenseAware ID will improve the safety, security and timeliness of deliveries – key attributes for packages that contain critical contents such as life-saving pharmaceuticals and emergency medical supplies.

The detailed location data provided by SenseAware ID is a critical differentiator for healthcare industry customers, and FedEx expects to use this new technology with anticipated COVID-19 vaccine shipments. The rollout of SenseAware ID is well-timed as FedEx continues to move life-saving pharmaceuticals and medical supplies for healthcare customers throughout the U.S.

“Package tracking and visibility are more important now than ever, as businesses have become increasingly reliant on timely deliveries,” said Robert B. Carter, executive vice president and chief information officer, FedEx Corporation. “Created by our innovation teams at FedEx, SenseAware ID was designed to give our customers the precise level of tracking they’ve been looking for, enabling them to optimize their supply chains and make any necessary adjustments during the journey of their shipments.”

Sense AwareFedEx SenseAwareFedEx has long been a pioneer in sensor-based logistics, providing advanced tracking of urgent and high value shipments for over a decade through its proprietary SenseAware portfolio. SenseAware ID is the latest innovation in FedEx sensor technology, designed to make sensor-based logistics more accessible to FedEx customers.

SenseAware ID uses a lightweight, compact sensor that transmits precise package location data every two seconds via Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) to WiFi access points or established gateway devices throughout the FedEx Express network. Packages equipped with the SenseAware ID sensor are tracked hundreds of times versus dozens of times with traditional package scanning protocols, which provides an unprecedented amount of real-time data about the location of the shipment.

As part of the initial roll-out, SenseAware ID sensors are being applied to First Overnight shipments within the U.S. domestic FedEx Express network. An initial round of customers in the healthcare, aerospace and retail industries will receive access to the enhanced data in November 2020. FedEx expects to expand access to this precision location data to additional customers throughout the first half of 2021. SenseAware ID will eventually be made available for a broad range of premium FedEx Express services.

The enhanced package visibility data provided by SenseAware ID will give FedEx healthcare customers the opportunity to closely monitor and proactively protect shipments using additional FedEx healthcare services, including cold-chain storage, thermal blankets and temperature controlled containers. SenseAware ID is expected to play a critical role in the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines using the FedEx First Overnight service, helping ensure these sensitive shipments are delivered quickly and safely.