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The digitalization of your manufacturing operations is an essential component of not only working to improve operational efficiencies today – but also preparing for what’s next. Below are seven (7) steps to take towards digitalization when connecting your manufacturing operations:

 

  1. Establish clear objectives:

Define specific objectives based on the level of automation, data processing and connectivity you need in your facility by a certain date. Identify a partner to expertly connect your operations without disrupting them.

 

  1. Assess your infrastructure & prepare your network:

Work with connectivity specialists to assess your infrastructure and identify all assets that are web-compatible. Catalog equipment that requires advanced configuration.

 

  1. Implement technology that complements your operations.

Identify the software and hardware you’ll need to turn your facility into a data-driven operation.

 

  1. Improve the value of legacy & newer equipment alike:

Many assume that implementing Industry 4.0 involves replacing legacy machines with new equipment, thus driving up costs, disrupting operations and cutting into profit margins. In reality, this is untrue in most cases. Manufacturers can install sensors and communication devices onto their existing assets, which encourages collaboration between OT and IT personnel. This practice of equipping legacy machines with web connectivity allows manufacturers to gather machine condition data and anticipate failures. Additionally, existing machines are capable of working with other smart devices with compatible features. Therefore, manufacturers don’t have to replace equipment to accommodate new technology.

 

  1. Select data analysis & visualization platforms:

Leverage your connectivity for real-time visible dashboard metrics for your entire production facility. Work with data collection infrastructure experts to determine what to monitor and how to communicate that information back to those who need it most.

 

  1. Train existing workforce in IT:

Ensure your staff knows how to work with networks, smart devices and IIoT software. Invest in training programs that equip staff with the knowledge of networking, hardware, cloud computing, and robotics maintenance.

 

  1. Take steps towards cybersecurity:

Consult experts to determine the best security framework that includes – at minimum – authenticating devices, authorizing information use, developing network-enforced policies and using security analytics to detect threats. Make sure you know your network vulnerabilities in accordance with DFARS compliance and other regulations, to protect your Department of Defense (DOD) contracts and prepare your businesses for cybersecurity risks.