Downtime is a multibillion-dollar problem for manufacturers. As a manufacturer, you operate in a fast-paced industry. That means when things go wrong, the company stands to lose big-time. And while certain downtime catalysts such as employee error or regular machine maintenance are unavoidable, there is one particular factor you CAN control: your IT infrastructure and management.
There’s no doubt your IT systems are critical to keeping your operations running smoothly. In order for your people to work efficiently and meet production goals, you must ensure that your IT components are secure, reliable and protected. For small and medium manufacturing businesses, however, effectively strategizing your network of technology and solutions, as well as managing the entire ongoing IT effort, can become a major drain on your resources.
That’s precisely why outsourcing has become an ideal solution for companies in this space. At Core Vision we’ve helped dozens of manufacturers leverage managed IT services to successfully run their businesses. Here are some key insights we’ve learned that may benefit your company as well.
Cybersecurity Risks On the Rise For Manufacturers
Day by day, hour by hour, cybersecurity becomes increasingly important for manufacturing companies. Cybercriminals are targeting the vulnerabilities of manufacturers and employees more frequently than ever before. The manufacturing industry is especially at risk given the industry’s expanding use of technology and innovation to maximize productivity.
“The manufacturing industry is an interesting convergence of OT (the industrial network), IT (the enterprise network), and IP (intellectual property),” explains Trend Micro Research in its 2019 report on threats to manufacturing environments. The report describes how operational practices and network configurations specific to manufacturing networks make them more susceptible to certain types of malware threats, and that just because manufacturing networks are isolated, it doesn’t mean they’re safe from external threats.
“The manufacturing industry is an interesting convergence of OT (the industrial network), IT (the enterprise network), and IP (intellectual property).”
The Cyber Risk in Advanced Manufacturing study, launched by Deloitte and MAPI in 2016, aimed to assess security trends in the manufacturing industry. They found that 40 percent of respondents were affected by cyber breaches or incidents in the previous 12 months, with 38 percent resulting in damages totaling over $1 million.
With so much risk—and so many dollars on the line—it’s vital to protect your users, systems and data from growing security threats focused on derailing your business.
Reactive IT = Unreliable IT for Manufacturers
Far too many small manufacturing companies find themselves relying on outdated technology with unreliable systems for both production and office functions.
What happens when these solutions are not being proactively managed?
Your entire operation becomes subject to ongoing efficiency and productivity lapses caused by ERP system crashes, email outages, lost data, server issues and even network malfunctions affecting CNC and robotics systems. Collaboration suffers, accessibility is compromised, and time is wasted. You’re constantly reacting to IT problems instead of staying ahead of them.
In the manufacturing world, small and medium businesses are challenged to support the kind of proactive IT maintenance that helps prevent system failures. You may not have the staff, the strategy or the solutions to consistently update the organization’s software, hardware and security capabilities. But it’s absolutely essential to implement proactive monitoring and management if you’re going to maintain your systems effectively as well as identify and address minor problems before they snowball into critical failures.
Proactive IT Helps Plan For the Unexpected
In ANY manufacturing environment, unexpected things happen. Your business can experience a range of surprise events, including anything from large-scale disasters like fires, floods, earthquakes, storms and major power outages, to seemingly innocuous disruptions such as overheated server rooms, leaks, hardware and software failures or employee mistakes.
Because accidental or malicious scenarios can both take your operation completely offline AND endanger your valuable data, it is vital to have preparedness plans for ensuring business continuity and disaster recovery when life throws you a curveball. Manufacturing businesses need a dedicated team and system to keep things constantly backed up and stored properly. This can take a lot of time, both in updating the backups and finding the right storage solution.
There’s also the question of who, exactly, is keeping tabs on your IT system at all times. In an emergency situation, who’s on top of the issue? If your network runs every day around the clock, so must your network monitoring—which is no easy feat for a small or medium manufacturing company with limited resources for dedicated IT support and management.
Prioritize Productivity with Managed IT
Whether you already have a small team of IT professionals or you’re not in a position to hire this expertise internally, managed IT is a smart option for small and medium-sized businesses. Every minute of downtime incurs a cost to your business, so expert support is fundamental to productivity.
By partnering with a managed IT services provider with a high level of experience and knowledge in the manufacturing arena, you can expect to benefit from advantages like:
- A team of pros working to evaluate the current state of your systems and identify needs and priorities
- Strategic advice on how technology can help support your business goals
- A proactive approach to managing your IT infrastructure
- 24/7 network monitoring, including remote monitoring and management of servers, desktops and mobile devices
- Managed wired and wireless network services, as well as desktop/laptop hardware support and security
- Immediate IT problem identification and resolution for mitigating unnecessary downtime costs
- Cybersecurity services to defend against harmful viruses, hackers and constantly evolving malware
- Installation of components such as firewalls, intrusion prevention systems and anti-virus software to reduce risk
- Local and off-site data retention, as well as cloud-based recovery options
- Around-the-clock user help desk and support
- Business transition assistance
- Peace of mind knowing that your network, your data, your intellectual property and your manufacturing systems are protected from harm
Additionally, you’ll have the ability to contract comprehensive IT support at a flat monthly fee. Then you can confidently budget for your IT support costs every month and eliminate uncontrollable variances.
“Every minute of downtime incurs a cost to your business, so expert support is fundamental to productivity.”
Are You a Manufacturer Looking For a Managed IT Provider?
In order to stay competitive in today’s manufacturing industry, you must be focused on smart technology supported by consistent, proactive management. Otherwise, you’re susceptible to losing precious time, security and peace of mind. Outcomes like slow recovery times and valuable data loss can be catastrophic for small and medium manufacturing businesses. Don’t take that risk with your company when you simply don’t have to.
Consider opting for managed IT services that set your company up for increased operational efficiencies, minimized downtime, controlled IT support costs and the capacity to focus on growing your business rather than managing your IT.
At Core Vision, we work with manufacturers on a daily basis to keep their technology and their employees working effectively. This includes leveraging the tools and processes needed to keep their systems secure, reliable and protected. Allowing them to focus on achieving their business goals.
Interested in finding a managed IT services provider for your small or medium manufacturing business? For expert tips on how to choose the best one to meet your company’s needs, consult this helpful checklist.