To thrive in this world of disruption, manufacturers must reduce complexity by investing in cloud-first technologies and automation.
This is the position of CISCO Meraki, Cloud Network Partner of the Modern Manufacturing Expo which is set to make its long-awaited debut at the Sydney Showground on 20 and 21 September.
“Manufacturing is a traditionally risk-averse, conservative, and labour-heavy industry but it is finally looking to reinvent itself through the adoption of Industry 4.0 technologies,” explained Matt Carling, ANZ cyber security solutions architect at Cisco Meraki.
“We understand that the pace of this adoption is uncomfortable for many firms, but change is necessary to remain competitive in a global marketplace. That’s why we got involved with the Modern Manufacturing Expo., It is the perfect opportunity to introduce manufacturers to technologies that will future-proof their operations – reinvent how work gets done and offer greater operational flexibility,” he added.
Cloud-based manufacturing is one such technology. It refers to utilizing established manufacturing resources such as Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) through the virtual information and storage network that is the cloud. This allows manufacturers to view, update and apply crucial information at any time and from anywhere.
Cisco Meraki’s secure, intelligent and cloud-first IT platform offers manufacturers added advantages:
- Protection from emerging cyber threats
- Automating time-consuming IT operations
- Ensured agility in the face of unexpected challenges
- Built-in analytical insights to deliver exceptional experiences
Digital transformation at scale
In a rapidly changing environment, most manufacturers don’t have the luxury of time when it comes to implementing changes that will benefit their operations. Cloud-based systems are faster to roll out than traditional systems, making it easier for manufacturers to keep up with new developments.
“They’re also easier to customize and scale, assisting with increasing digital manufacturing adoption rates across the industry,” said Carling. “Our Cisco Meraki solution makes multi-site deployments a cinch and improves production efficiencies, enabling manufacturers to become more competitive.
The other competitive advantages of cloud-based manufacturing include:
- Facilitates modernisation: simplify deployment and management across multiple sites with cloud-managed appliances
- Improves operational resilience by minimizing downtime: reduces waste and manages security concerns with simple-to-monitor surveillance cameras
- Remote connectivity: secure communications between distributed sites
- Simple to operate: workers can administer the network easily and eliminate the need for extensive training or dedicated on-site staff through intuitive web-based management
Carling explained that these fast, easy-to-execute advantages offered by cloud-based manufacturing are desperately needed in the industry because of slow technology adoption rates.
“Most manufacturers refresh their IT/OT equipment every 5 -10 years, which is a far longer period than many other industries. As they investigate how to update their legacy architectures to become disruption-proof in these extraordinary times, manufacturers must incorporate more automation and reduce complexity to better manage networks across distributed sites, address labor shortages, and ensure greater agility as environmental conditions change — in short , to remain competitive.”
As more edge devices — from network sensors to forklifts to robots — are connected to the factory network as part of Industry 4.0 transformation, there is an opportunity for manufacturers to leverage IIoT data in new ways to reduce downtime, costs, and uncertainty.
Protecting manufacturers from external threats
Access to an abundance of data through a greater number of connected devices offers manufacturers new opportunities – as well as threats as these newly connected devices offer would-be attackers more points of entry. The risk of cyberattacks has risen rapidly in recent years, as has the cost of data recovery once these attacks take place.
“A huge contributor to risk is the fact that many of the operational technologies prevalent on the factory floor run on legacy-operating systems rather than cloud-based systems.
These legacy systems are more difficult to patch or are often so old that vendor security patches are no longer issued. Because these systems are exorbitantly expensive, and because downtime to service them is costly, manufacturers often keep this equipment running in insecure states,” said Carling.
“Luckily, cloud-based systems offer the agility and security to reduce the risk of manufacturers falling victim to costly, potentially devastating cybersecurity breaches. As more manufacturers adopt cloud-based operations, it is vital that cloud providers perform the necessary security checks to ensure that this protection remains intact.”
The agile nature of cloud-based systems also comes in handy when manufacturers are looking to accelerate innovation within their organisations.
Cloud technology enables industries to leverage global networks, seamlessly connecting hardware and software. This provides the on-demand processing power, data storage, and analytics needed to scale computing — delivering the innovations needed to drive productivity and efficiency.
An opportunity to meet face-to-face with the implementors of change
As the Cloud Network Partner of the Modern Manufacturing Expo, Carling and his team are key drivers of the new era of smart manufacturing that Australia is about to enter.
“As we end the third year of navigating both a global pandemic and continued digital transformation, I am excited to connect with manufacturing industries at the Modern Manufacturing Expo to get a better understanding of the challenges, achievements, progress and opportunities that local manufacturers are facing. ,” Carling said.
“Most of all, the Expo presents a rare opportunity for us to meet with many manufacturers face-to-face and discover how they have solved problems and are rethinking operations to meet demand at scale. This will give Cisco Meraki (as well as the other exhibitors in attendance) insights into the evolution of automation and increased efficiencies in production,” he concluded.
For more information on the Modern Manufacturing Expo, visit here.