The fates despatched me to Bermuda in the 1990s. Catastrophe reinsurance was reinvented there soon
after I arrived, leading me to become a hurricane and
in proximity to a serious quake.
My second seismic event, this
spring, was a more sedate affair,
experienced at my brother’s home
in England’s West Country. A late
lunch was accompanied by a sudden,
short cracking sound on the roof a
foot or two above our heads. With
the particular insight that years
of learning instills, I confidently
declared the culprit to be squirrels.
It was in fact a 4. 4 earthquake,
its epicenter about 100 miles away,
shrugged off immediately and not
even worthy of conversation by the
At the start of an interview some
years ago, a broker spoke of his
relief that earthquake season was
over for the year. It was a test to see
how clued in I might be. When I
expressed, with a certainty I did not
entirely possess, that there was no
earthquake season, he smiled and
told me I had passed the test.
In Barcelona, Spain, however,
we now know there is indeed an
earthquake season. It is coterminous
with the football (soccer) season. No,
California in 1988 — and a relatively
harmless event it was. Driving a
Volkswagen cliché around North
America, we were relaxing at a rest
area off the freeway when a quake
shook the ground for a few seconds.
It was a 6-point-something, centered
reasonably far away.
What experience, rather
than theory, teaches you about
earthquakes is how destabilizing
they can be. That’s obvious, but you
cannot anticipate the brief period
of uncertainty that accompanies
the shaking, and the more lasting
recollection of how brief, and
random, life can be for those caught
Bermuda saw me at the heart of
three major hurricanes, two of them
killers. In the first, I refused to leave
my home — not through obduracy,
but because I was being directed to a
nearby house no better fortified than
In the second, I empty-headedly
went outdoors in what I quickly
learned was the eye of the storm and
found myself stranded on the roof
when the back end of the whirlwind
blew the ladder away. The third
disturbance saw me locked indoors
while the weather wrecked things
and killed people for 12 hours.
Until recently, I had experienced
BY ROGER CROMBIE
With the Internet of Things, those
failures could amplify.
The risk of losing privacy increases,
so how well-encrypted will be the data
that is transmitted and stored, and
who is ultimately responsible for a data
There are compatibility issues as
well, as there are no international
standards, so it could be a challenge for
one machine to speak to another.
This is particularly disconcerting
in the manufacturing process, where
a failure in the software or hardware
could compromise the assembly
There is also the human element.
The interconnection of manufacturing
devices to the internet could result in
the loss of jobs as fewer humans are
needed, especially those without formal
education or technical training.
Over-dependence on the internet
— and the data supplied — could be
detrimental if the whole thing comes
crashing down one day. &
DAN HOLDEN can be reached at
Imagine a manufacturing process that governs itself via interconnected methodology and connects formerly
distinct production and business domains all with very
competitors who are not.
From the moment an order is
placed, the manufacturing control
system engages and pulls the parts
and material needed for assembly,
thus eliminating potential time lags
between supply, orders, product design,
operations and customer management.
Imagine the time saved.
According to John Nesi, vice
president of market development at
Rockwell Automation, King’s Hawaiian
was able to put out an additional
180,000 pounds of bread every day —
doubling their previous production
amount — after installing 11 newly
connected machines in a new factory.
As a result of the upgraded
technology, the breadmaker was able to
get its product to the market faster and
lower its overall costs, gaining a huge
advantage over its competition.
However, this massive paradigm
shift in manufacturing won’t come
When innovation is tied to a
complex system — and we become
over-reliant on technology — there are
ample opportunities for failure.
The year 2018 is purported to be
a historic year in manufacturing for
many reasons, one of which is advances
in industrial technology via cobots and
This is especially concerning for
risk managers as they know that no
system is without fault. There are
glitches in the internet that occur daily.
In Io T, the physical world is an
information system via sensors and
actuators embedded in physical objects
and linked through wired and wireless
networks via the Internet Protocol.
Factories and plants that are
connected to the internet have already
proven to be more efficient than
limited human intervention. It’s mind-
boggling … and yet it shouldn’t be.
According to Kevin Davenport,
Cisco Systems Inc., “The internet
arguably is the most transformative
and pervasive driver of change and
The internet revolution — in
just a short amount of time — has
transformed civilization and is now
making its way into the manufacturing
Such technologies already exist and
many industry leaders believe “The
Internet of Things”(Io T) is the fourth
industrial revolution following the
steam engine, the conveyor belt and
BY DAN HOLDEN
I’m not turning the tables by testing
you; it’s true.
Barcelona, perhaps the world’s
best club side, employs one Lionel
Messi, perhaps the world’s best
football player. Seismologists
who record urban vibrations have
noticed that every time Barcelona,
and especially Messi, scores a goal,
“people jump up and down and the
Not only can the scientists say
from a distance exactly when a
goal was scored, they can rate its
relative importance by the intensity
of those stamping their feet. A
fellow seismologist in the UK can
distinguish a goal, by vibration, from
the build-up to a goal.
The soccer World Cup is upon us
at any moment. It will be watched by
billions around the planet. A timely
warning, therefore: Beware global
ROGER CROMBIE is a United Kingdom-based columnist for Risk & Insurance®.
He can be reached at riskletters@lrp.