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Reducing waste in value generation centers with OT security

Jun 21, 20235 mins

Operational waste from preventable defects costs your business real money. TXOne Stellar can help.

Credit: courtneyk

Operational stability is the value

Measuring return on investment can be a frustrating task in security. The more effective you are, the less you must show for it. In most cases, arbitrary metrics serve as a proxy for actual value, such as cost avoidance or risk reduction. The issue with these is apparent when the budget is tight and costs must be reduced. It's hard to take the revenue of something not happening to the bank. Instead, other business units show gains based on the security team's ability to prevent a cyber attack from taking their system offline. 

TXOne Stellar flips the script on this perpetual struggle, introducing a new way for security teams to increase an operation's revenue-generating potential by reducing waste and disruption. 

Suppose an organization, Top Widgets Inc., was operating a widget manufacturing plant. During a production run, a technician incorrectly changes a device's configuration, which alters the orientation axis of the autonomous robots. Then, as the robots begin assembling the widgets, the misalignment produces defects, such as incorrect joint angles between parts and gaps in the weld seams. Because of this, 700 of the 7000 widgets created were defective and had to be discarded. 

The waste from these defects can be significant due to their compounding nature. In this example, at least three losses occur: 

  • First, the expense of disposing of 700 defective widgets, assuming they cannot be reworked. 
  • Second, additional materials and time are needed to replace the defective widgets.  
  • Third, there is a loss in potential revenue as fewer widgets are available for sale.  

In all, the cost of waste is often far higher than simply the loss of raw materials. As a result, value generation centers, such as assembly lines, are closely monitored to improve and optimize production, with a key metric being waste reduction.  

Cyber-Physical System Detection and Response delivers real returns 

Continuing our last article, TXOne Stellar with Cyber-Physical System Detection and Response factors in security and operational threats to block unexpected changes. For Top Widgets Inc., having this capability would have been highly valuable, as we will explore below.  

Using basic numbers, let's say that Top Widgets Inc's operation targeted $50 million of widgets but produced $42.5 million worth of usable widgets due to 15% waste (5% device change defects and 10% other production waste). If this waste were reduced to 10% for the same period (other production waste only), the operation would have produced $45 million in usable widgets, a $2.5 million increase from a waste reduction. 


By evaluating production waste data against the blocked change event data from TXOne Stellar, the operation can determine the reduction of waste attributed to unexpected changes. For example, 5% of total waste in the previous year was attributed to inadvertent device and process changes. In the year after Stellar was deployed, this percentage was reduced to 0%. The $2.5 million previously tracked as waste costs now becomes revenue and can be attributed as the return on investment.  

This remains a proof point for future years too. The 5% reduction in waste can be evaluated against the total production value, showing the dollar figure that was made possible because unexpected changes were blocked. Continuing our example, in year three, Top Widgets targeted $60 million of usable widgets and had $6 million of other production waste (10%) for a usable widget value of $54 million. Therefore, Stellar with CPSDR had a potential year three ROI of $3 million. Once the initial investment has been covered, the future returns can translate to direct revenue for the business. 

The business often sees security as an overlay. Become the enabler.

The standard practice for calculating ROI and budgeting for future initiatives is risk-based. Similarly, new money will often be allocated after a breach to help clean up and ensure it doesn't happen again. The limitation of this, the unspoken truth security teams feel every day, is that the moment the incident is not the top headline anymore, the funds dry up. Only so much motivation can be gained from using the threat of cyber attacks as a motivation for more budget.  

TXOne Stellar adds a new metric to the security and operations teams' quiver. Instead of relying solely on risk metrics, the immediate increase in profit potential through the reduced waste expense and increased revenue opportunity, operational lockdown becomes a motivating metric. This new metric, quantifiable using real earned revenue, takes security from an overlay to an enabler, helping the organization optimize its operation and increase profits.  

Risk-based measurements based on the security value have their place in ROI calculations but have limitations. Let TXOne Networks change the game in your organization by adding value generation center optimization to your ROI list, empowering your team, optimizing the operation, and increasing the revenue of the business.