Technology is continually changing, which leaves room for cyberattacks, human error, and falling behind on the latest trends, solutions, and improvements. Understanding what the technology solutions to these problems are and how they can impact the manufacturing industry as a whole is key.
Although manufacturers are increasingly turning to data-driven solutions for their operations, problems often lie in how data is interpreted, where it is stored, and most importantly, the staff resources available to process it.
By outsourcing your manufacturing IT solutions, a broad spectrum of resources are at your disposal. Read on to discover how the latest technology in the manufacturing industry can help companies overcome challenges and succeed on a global scale.
What are the main challenges facing the manufacturing industry?
Supply chain disruption
Breaks or delays in the supply chain are a major threat to the manufacturing industry. The knock-on effect of such disruptions has never been more obvious than throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. One of the largest supply chain disruptions has been the global chip shortage that resulted from large-scale industry shutdowns due to lockdowns being implemented in various countries. The manufacturing industry has faced an uphill battle to recover the lost time and resources ever since. Similarly, many sectors of economies all over the world are realizing serious shortcomings in either the availability of supply chain infrastructure like containers and trucks or the people needed to work with them.
Disruptive technology in the manufacturing industry
With constantly evolving technology, businesses are under immense pressure to keep up with the latest trends. Those who cannot adapt simply cannot keep up with competitors. Considering the rapid pace of technological advancement, knowing which solutions are available and suitable for your company can be quite overwhelming.
Here are the top technology trends for manufacturing businesses looking to tap into innovative solutions:
- Robotics: The advancements in robotic technology cannot be understated. However, the pushback from the workforce in the manufacturing industry regarding the future of jobs has had an impact on the introduction of robots in the workplace. Nonetheless, robotic technology is set to become smarter, cheaper, and more efficient.
- Nanotechnology: Nanotechnology is the manipulation of nanoscopic materials and technologies. While advancements with nanotechnology are relatively slow, it is suggested that nanotechnology will be highly beneficial in the manufacturing industry.
- 3D printing: As one of the most accessible and agile technologies available today, 3D printing is making waves in manufacturing. This technology is extremely agile.
- Internet of Things: IoT has various applications in manufacturing. For instance, a network of sensors that collects data can also be used to identify and improve operational inefficiencies.
- Cloud computing: Cloud computing is at the forefront of transforming every aspect of manufacturing. From supply chain to product design and manufacturing, cloud computing is helping manufacturers save on time and more importantly, costs.
- Big Data: If we look back just 20 years ago, saying Big Data and manufacturing in one sentence would not have made sense. The process of capturing and storing data is changing rapidly with standards being updated as new technologies come into play. Organizations are now able to use big data to tackle many of their operational needs.
- Augmented reality: Not only is AR quite big in the gaming world, but it has also given new meaning to what we understand about virtual reality. In manufacturing, it can greatly advance operations by allowing manufacturers to assess safety concerns in the workplace before implementing new machinery and without any injuries occurring.
- 5G: The introduction of 5G will greatly increase cost-saving mechanisms, as well as be more transformational for devices that drive automated processes.
- Artificial intelligence: AI is a game-changer for manufacturers. What we will see in the future is how AI-power demand and planning will align the supply chain for manufacturers to that of its demand projections, which will ultimately make data easily available.
- Cybersecurity: Our current digital climate leaves little room for mistakes that will ultimately cost you dearly. Moving manufacturing operations to the cloud and integrating systems using IoT will create both exceptional opportunities and challenges.
With technology advancing at a rapid pace, so too does the threat of cybercrimes. As cybercriminals become more skilled, companies that are not staying up to date with the latest threats and proactively combating them are leaving themselves vulnerable to cyberattacks. Here are the main threats that manufacturing companies have to look out for:
- Phishing and ransomware: In manufacturing, cybercriminals will trick internal stakeholders into releasing a type of malware that encrypts files on their network, leaving them unusable until the ransom demands are met.
- Internal breaches: Although most cyberattacks are external, some do happen internally. Disgruntled current or former employees may launch cyberattacks in an effort to damage the company or profit from selling its data.
- Equipment sabotage: Technology provides a wealth of benefits to the manufacturing industry, but it can also make companies vulnerable if not used correctly. Exploits are a major concern and hackers are creating advanced means to sabotage equipment as devices are becoming increasingly interconnected.
- IP theft: Intellectual property is not customer data – this is why IP theft is often overlooked. But herein lies the problem. When IP is stolen, cybercriminals have access to product design and innovative service solutions, which are often the most valuable information of an organization.
- Supply chain attacks: This is where cybercriminals target a big fish by attacking the less well-defended small fish among their suppliers and service providers.
- Nation-state attacks: Cybercriminals hired by governments of other countries look for data that will benefit their nation for either monetary gain, intellectual property, or weapons, or to settle a grudge.
Revenue losses due to downtime
Without a trusted and efficient IT solution, manufacturers are exposed to unwarranted downtime. Manufacturers simply cannot afford any downtime, as this leads to a massive loss in profits and employee overtime to reach the supply and demand targets.
How can manufacturing IT solutions help overcome these challenges?
Technology in the manufacturing industry is propelling organizations forward. Here’s how manufacturing companies are overcoming productivity and security challenges.
Before cloud computing, data storage solutions were expensive and accompanied by massive on-premises hard drives. Cloud computing uses internet connections to store and access software and information used in a system. It is available as a service, with pricing based on needs and usage. Due to the inconvenience of on-premises storage, the manufacturing industry is pivoting toward cloud computing and is experiencing a range of benefits:
- Security and reliability: Fewer technical problems because the cloud service provider is responsible for updates and maintenance
- Cost and space savings: No in-house servers are required
- Scalability: Cloud computing is easy to scale back during off-peak times
Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT)
The benefit of the Internet of Things in manufacturing cannot be understated. IIoT paves the way to digital transformation in manufacturing, as it leads to machines and processes being more interconnected. IIoT works by collecting data from networked smart devices and then using cloud software to turn this data into insights about the efficiency of processes. The real-time data obtained also enables manufacturers to make better-informed decisions about inventory management and production control.
Fast data allows innovative manufacturers to analyze, process, and interpret data in order to offer valuable insights on the current supply chain, customer demands, and overall business demands. Manufacturers use fast data to their advantage by reducing operational uncertainty, including having to predict when problems may occur, such as machine outages or business vulnerabilities. With data driving decision-making and planning, manufacturers are able to manage their operations and strategies with a higher level of accuracy.
What makes Umbrella a good partner for manufacturing companies?
It is critical to have dedicated IT solutions that support your manufacturing business and provide you with the protection you need. What can Umbrella Managed Services offer you?
The latest manufacturing IT technologies
Armed with the latest tools in IT, Umbrella Managed Services is a valued partner to businesses in the manufacturing industry. With our up-to-date knowledge of the latest technology trends, we can help your business optimize its operations and plan for the future.
Managing your IT needs
With the rapidly changing technology needs of manufacturing companies, outsourcing some or all of your IT is becoming a necessity. At Umbrella, we know that companies have different manufacturing IT needs, so we offer two types of managed services.
- Fully managed: Umbrella offers you a complete IT partnership solution that leverages technology to your advantage, improving productivity, efficiency, and customer and employee satisfaction. Your Managed IT Service plan removes the need for in-house IT resources and includes a dedicated account manager, a direct line to our engineers, and on-site visits to ensure your systems are running smoothly.
- Co-managed: Umbrella offers expertise and manpower to supplement your in-house IT team’s knowledge and capacity. We can help get a project off the ground or completed on time, or simply add capacity to free you to focus on business growth.
Cybercriminals that target the manufacturing sector are relentless in their attacks and can strike at any time. With Umbrella’s cybersecurity solutions, you will benefit from the following:
- Full-stack cybersecurity
- More time to focus on your business
- Complete transparency
- Security strategies
- The latest security solutions