3 Common IT Problems For Manufacturing Firms (And What You Can Do To Solve Them)
Are you struggling to overcome the same IT problems, such as outdated hardware, software incompatibility, and the ongoing threat of cybercrime?
Are you frustrated with IT problems?
Since you’re reading this article, it’s fair to assume you work in the manufacturing industry, and that you’re having trouble with your IT. Don’t worry, you’re not alone — manufacturers around the world are encountering the same issues with you as they integrate more and more technology into their processes.
That’s the double-edged blade of modern technology — if you’re going to use it to benefit your firm, you have to know how to support it so that it doesn’t cause more trouble than it’s worth.
In this article, we’ll explore three common IT problems and how you can tackle them. These are methods that Core Vision IT Solutions employs when supporting our many clients in the manufacturing industry that we’ve worked with for years. They have worked for these manufacturers, and they can work for you too.
3 Common IT Problems For Manufacturing Firms
Problem #1 — Poorly Managed Technology Lifecycles.
You know when a tool is past its prime, but can you say the same of the business technology you use? That old desktop computer you’ve been using for years is probably holding you back, but you may not have noticed.
While the mere existence of a newer operating system or new model in the line-up doesn’t mean you should automatically upgrade, it is an indication that you will have to do so sometime soon. When a newer version is released, it means the clock is running out on how long the providers will continue to support the version you’re using.
Solution — Standard Hardware Refresh Cycles.
The best way to prevent outdated hardware from affecting your business is by making sure your hardware doesn’t get outdated. It sounds simple, but it can be easy to fall behind — make sure you have a hardware assessment and refresh process carried out every 1-2 years:
- Determine Asset Value: The first step will be to assess your current hardware infrastructure. Identifying the state of each piece of hardware you’re currently using will help to plan what needs to be replaced and what needs to be updated.
- Consolidate Your Assets: The good news is that not all hardware is necessarily unusable at this point. If older hardware is not completely outdated, organizations can find great value in repurposing that hardware for noncritical workloads or environments where a single server fault wouldn’t wreak havoc on business operations. By consolidating this older, but still valuable hardware, you can get a greater return on your original investment in the technology.
- Upgrade As Needed: After determining what technology is still useful and what needs to be replaced, you can move forward with procuring the best hardware for your needs at a cost-effective price point. Once obtained, you undergo the migration process carefully to make sure that no file is lost from one piece of hardware to the next.
Problem #2 — Outdated And Incompatible Software.
Similar to the issue with hardware, your software also has a lifespan. Because of this, many manufacturing firms struggle with outdated, unsupported equipment.
As a result, they often run into software compatibility issues in which line of business programs and legacy software don’t work well after they’re out of date, or if you try to run them on newer hardware.
If you’re running outdated, unsupported equipment, you may have trouble with:
- CAM/CAD systems
- Barcoding systems
- ERP systems
- 3D printing
Solution — Upgrades And Patch Management Cycles.
It’s important for you to track the life cycles of your software so that you know well ahead of when they’ll be out of date. Generally, vendors give many months’ worth of notice that a certain legacy version of a program is becoming obsolete, and will offer to assist with upgrading to the next version.
Similarly, on an ongoing basis, you need to provide a structured and scheduled patching for your software to make sure you’re up to date and secure.
Problem #3 — Cybercrime.
The manufacturing sector continues to be a prime target for cybercriminals. That’s because most manufacturing firms are embracing the concept of smart technologies to streamline production. And as great as these technologies are, they create more points of entry into the network, and present more vulnerabilities for cybercriminals to take advantage of.
Solution — Proactive Cybersecurity Management.
Protecting your firm means investing in a range of cybersecurity solutions and processes. The good news is that you don’t have to figure out cybersecurity from scratch – the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has developed the Cybersecurity Framework Manufacturing Profile, detailing each and every aspect of a proper cybersecurity defense for manufacturing firms:
- Detect: Develop and implement the appropriate activities to identify the occurrence of a cybersecurity event. The activities in the Detect function allow for the timely discovery of cybersecurity events.
- Protect: Develop and implement the appropriate safeguards to ensure the delivery of critical infrastructure services. The activities in the Protect Function support the ability to limit or contain the impact of a potential cybersecurity event.
- Identify: Develop the organizational understanding to manage cybersecurity risk to systems, assets, data, and capabilities. The activities in the Identify Function are foundational for effective use of the Framework. Understanding the business context, the resources that support critical functions and the related cybersecurity risks enables an organization to focus and prioritize its efforts, consistent with its risk management strategy and business needs.
- Respond: Develop and implement the appropriate activities to take action regarding a detected cybersecurity event. The activities in the Respond function support the ability to contain the impact of a potential cybersecurity event.
- Recover: Develop and implement the appropriate activities to maintain plans for resilience and to restore any capabilities or services that were impaired due to a cybersecurity event. The activities in the Recover Function support timely recovery to normal operations to reduce the impact of a cybersecurity event.
Managed IT Services Can Solve Your IT Problems
While you can address, mitigate and solve these problems with the solutions above, there is another, simpler way to handle your IT challenges — outsource them to a managed IT company.
The nature of the way a managed IT services model works will help to mitigate these types of problems. After all, they all stem from poor maintenance and management — by working with a managed IT services company, you outsource the entire workload to a team that’s focused specifically on keeping your systems optimized.
If you think that a managed IT services arrangement is the right choice for you, then call the Core Vision IT Solutions team. We’ve helped many of our clients solve their IT problems, and we can do the same for you.