IT systems and solutions, including wireless networks supporting mobile access and a wide array of devices, are increasingly integral to manufacturing, as they manage workflow and assure optimal productivity. Mobility brings information to where it is needed with the efficiency and reliability essential to manufacturing operations, where downtime or even seemingly minor interruptions to operations can have a major negative impact on overall business success.
Mobile access to IT resources within a manufacturing environment can optimize workflow by providing links to the information required to manage issues, augment staff productivity, assure worker safety, and enable regulatory compliance. It can also reduce the cost of inventory, improve quality control, and even manage and optimize energy consumption.
In order to drive operational efficiencies in the sector going forward, manufacturers across the APAC region must embrace the opportunities presented by mobile technological innovation, including IoT.
A recent paper produced by PWC estimated IoT could create benefits in the order of 14–25% ($50–88 billion per annum) for Australia’s manufacturing sector alone.
What is driving mobility adoption in the manufacturing sector?
Today, manufacturers are using mobile and connected solutions to find new ways to grow revenue and increase profits. For example, industrial equipment manufacturers sell outcomes, like machine hours, rather than just products; through using mobile, embedded and connected sensor technologies to measure use and enable predictive maintenance, manufacturing CIOs can help improve business outputs. Additionally, while most new production equipment can be independently run and operated, older solutions require greater direct support. The use of mobile solutions to support equipment calibration, test and measurement application and uploading programs, provide significant benefits to enhancing the operations of older equipment, and improve plant productivity.
Mobile solutions can help keep manufacturing employees safe, especially those working alone in hazardous areas. Lone worker applications or the use of wearable devices that can sense environmental factors — such as temperature, levels of toxic gases, or prolonged periods of inactivity — and identify when a worker has had an accident or is in imminent danger are increasingly being adopted across the sector. The use of mobile solutions to provide safety information, report on narrow escapes and incidents also help manufacturers record workplace incidents, and improve safety processes.
CIOs understand that tracking and maintaining assets in a manufacturing plant can be a time consuming and costly process. Embracing mobility and IoT in manufacturing operations has the potential to enhance essential asset tracking processes.
For each phase of the mobility lifecycle in the manufacturing sector, soti recommends following established practices that will prevent or minimize most mobile security threats
Real-time tracking of inventory and even maintenance issues can be addressed via mobile-centric technologies like bar codes, radio frequency ID (RFID) and IoT. In large-scale manufacturing plants, the ability to easily locate assets that require inspection by using a mobile solution and indoor location service, in addition to geo-tagging and imaging the asset has the potential to improve the efficiency of plant workers and inspectors greatly.
A wide variety of cost reductions can also accrue from mobility, thanks to the optimization of both staff activities and capacity utilization, as well as the increasing integration of network-based, IT-centric automation. Management visibility is enhanced via real-time reporting and analytics that yield actionable insights.
Overcoming mobility adoption barriers
According to a recent PWC survey, 81% of manufacturing CEOs say mobile technologies are strategically important for their business. However, while technology adoption is becoming more prevalent in the
manufacturing sector, CIOs do still face challenges in the region before deploying mobility solutions. Among the most significant barriers holding back adoption for some manufacturers is the general lack of wireless infrastructure and concerns regarding device security.
Those manufacturing CIOs looking to transform their business operations and improve shop floor productivity through mobile solutions know that security is key. After all, every mobile device’s identity is the new security perimeter, regardless of its location globally.
Secure mobile devices in manufacturing plants
For each phase of the mobility lifecycle in the manufacturing sector, SOTI recommends following established practices that will prevent or minimize most mobile security threats. Firstly, CIOs operating in the manufacturing sector should ensure that they have a corporate mobility policy such as who has access to what technologies if workers can add apps to devices and how sensitive data should be handled.
Once CIOs have a corporate mobility policy in place, they should deploy an enterprise mobility management (EMM) solution. An EMM solution controls device security, manages software and content allocation, and fixes device problems remotely. For instance, a secure EMM browser can block untrusted sites and minimize man-in-the-middle (MitM) and phishing/social engineering attacks. EMM document managers can also enforce complex passwords, encryption, and separation of personal and work data, to prevent data leakage of sensitive/confidential content within corporate apps.
In addition to these processes, CIOs need to ensure they are enforcing multi-factor authentication for device enrolment, certificate-based authentication for access to corporate WiFi and are mandating VPNs to prevent hackers from gaining access to corporate resources. Manufacturers should also use real-time location services (RTLS), such as geofences and location tracking, to minimize the impact, and improve the chances of recovery of lost or stolen devices.
Because of their scale, and non-stationary operations in manufacturing settings, unsecured IoT endpoints, and mobile devices are an attractive target for cybercriminals. Whether it is intentional or accidental, data loss can be damaging to a manufacturer’s brand and its balance sheet. However, through deploying an advanced EMM solution and following best practices device security advice, manufacturers across the APAC region can experience the significant operational benefits of a mobility solution while also minimizing any security risks.
Embracing mobility in manufacturing
Embracing mobility and IoT in manufacturing operations has the potential to enhance essential processes. Manufacturers who successfully introduce IoT devices and an EMMsolution into their operations can expect improved visibility and automation of operations. They also ensure that IT operations management and other professionals can secure, manage, and support these devices while avoiding costly downtime.
SOTI is the world's most trusted provider of mobile and IoT device management solutions, with more than 17,000 enterprise customers and millions of devices managed worldwide.
Check out:The Manufacturing Outlook