System Force I.T.

What to do if you’re concerned about poor network uptime reducing your manufacturing output and eating into your productivity and profits

If you’re in manufacturing, with one or more sites, you’re well aware of how important network uptime is to keep your Industrial Control System (ICS) running, maintain output and improve efficiency, build competitive advantage, reduce cost and maximise profit.

Your Industrial Control System (ICS) comprises hardware and software interconnected together via your I.T. network to support technologies including supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) and Distributed Control Systems (DCS), industrial automation and control systems (IACS), programmable logic controllers (PLCs), programmable automation controllers (PACs), remote terminal units (RTUs), control servers, intelligent electronic devices (IEDs) and sensors.

But, how do you develop an I.T. network strategy to keep your ICS running at maximum uptime?

In this article, I’ll examine the four key ingredients…

  1. I.T. infrastructure and Cloud

Your I.T. infrastructure is critical to the effectiveness of your day to day operations and even a minor glitch can cause major problems.

Don’t wait until…

your network slows down to walking pace

you experience a serious server/storage failure

your outdated hardware comes to it’s “end-of-life”

before you take action.

As Grant Gerke states in Optimizing Multi-Site Operations, Large and Small

“A strong central manufacturing IT group is an asset when it comes to optimising multi-site operations and making the best use of cloud computing, enterprise software and other technologies. It also could mean resources are more readily available to optimise individual site operations. But optimising operations and maintaining internal standards for a multi-site control infra-structure are real challenges for smaller companies with fewer resources.”

Make sure that you are building on solid foundations by investing in efficient systems based on established and proven technology to keep your I.T. infrastructure cost effective, future proof and resilient.

  1. Cyber Securitydistaster and cyber security

In the past most of the technologies used in manufacturing were “dumb”, and those that were computerised typically used proprietary protocols. The networks they belonged to were air-gapped and protected from the outside world. This has changed, with most of the components of today’s ICS often connected directly or indirectly to an intranet, extranet or to the internet.

And there’s more to come, as manufacturers embrace increasing automation and the Internet of Things (IoT) or the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) for competitive advantage.  The merging of the digital and physical worlds means improved efficiency, but it also means exposing your critical manufacturing infrastructure to cyber risk. In fact, according to an independent ICS study, nearly 6 in 10 organisations using SCADA or ICS industrial control systems have experienced a breach in those systems in the past year.

From IP-related tasks such as research, design and prototyping through to connected processes such as production, distribution and delivery, legacy and modern manufacturing systems – once protected by an air gap – are now connected to the network.  The need for end-to-end security is greater than ever.

Make sure that you get your business cybersecure for 2020.

  1. Data and Backup

Your data needs to be stored safely and securely, because, you rely on data for your business success.

From your whole manufacturing ERP system, to inventory databases to track supplies and your databases for payroll and finance, reliable data storage is a must-have.

And, because new data accumulates every day regular backup is vital.

Your servers hold large amounts of critical manufacturing data and information so that data loss or system failure can be fatal to the long-term survival of your business.

And, with the introduction of the GDPR regulations you may even be breaking the law if you lose, misuse or accidentally corrupt customer data.

So, we recommend online backup to back up and keep your data secure.

Make sure that you have a robust backup routine in place

  1. Network Support

IT Support Benefits

On a day to day basis it’s the quality of your I.T. support that keeps your network running and because manufacturers are using technology more than ever before you will require a high level of IT support to maintain and improve your uptime.

Even if you do have dedicated internal computer support we recommend a backup support service, which, given today’s technological advances, can be provided remotely through a secure remote connection to rapidly troubleshoot and fix your system issues.

Advanced computer preventive maintenance can be used to identify and solve problems before they become a disaster, ensuring that there is no downtime.

And remote monitoring enables analysis to build up trends on how your systems are working through time and can provide valuable insight and services to you and your team.

Make sure that you have reliable, trustworthy and efficient I.T. support in place.

We have created a case study based on manufacturing organisations we have helped increase their productivity by 35%.

Call us on 0330 016 7680 to get your copy of the case study or fill in the form below and discover how we can help you increase your uptime and productivity.