Imagine a scenario: your equipment is connected to your network, you are running at capacity. One of your employees opens a phishing email and clicks on a suspicious link. Then BOOM. Your network gets hit with ransomware and you are forced to halt production immediately.
There is a lot of revenue your company could potentially lose when your staff is standing around not able to work. A computer crashes, a machine stops working, critical updates disable a software program; all of these scenarios can disrupt the natural flow of a business and lead to these costs.
How much does downtime cost?
Let's break it down into 2 categories: direct costs and indirect costs.
Direct costs include any production, labor, inventory, and repair expenses that are incurred due to a nonfunctioning system. Generally speaking, manufacturers are experts in running their operations at full or near full capacity. So any small hiccup in operational flow can drastically slow or even stop production, increasing the probability that your supply will not meet your demand, decreasing revenue, and racking up the labor cost/unit as well as inventory holding cost. Additionally, when there are more instances of downtime, employees don't receive the consistent repeated exposure to their task at hand, making it difficult for them to flawlessly execute their portion of the assembly line. If a piece of equipment, or even worse, an entire system, does break, you will most likely need to procure a third party to fix it.
Indirect costs include employee morale, customer service, and the organization's reputation as a whole. When your technology doesn't work, there's a ripple effect. Employees that are standing around, not producing, or even being asked to go home for the day, lose confidence and motivation. And this doesn't just affect the workers in the field or on the floor; this affects the customer service representative who has to take that angry call from a client who hasn't received their product yet. It affects the account manager or sales rep who has to explain to a customer why their delivery is delayed. Additionally, downtime affects the clients who ultimately use that product as part of their own business operations, which takes a hit at that point. Since downtime can be a very time-consuming issue for a business, it takes away time from other things like innovation and creative brainstorming opportunities. It is much more important to make sure a current system is working before imagining how to improve that system’s capabilities for the future.
How do you prevent downtime?
Essentially any machine with an operating system and a connection to your network. This includes SCADA systems, industrial equipment, industrial analytics tools, network components, and all network devices like switches, routers, and wireless. Hackers can penetrate a network from any device, so it's important to have a clear understanding of all devices connected to the network and what systems and processes rely on them. Don't forget your staff members. When clients discuss cybersecurity options, staff member training is usually not the first thing to get brought up. Just like your equipment, your staff members have the ability to be hacked, so proper training and protections need to be in place.
Once protected, how can you make the most of the technology?
Once you understand where everything is, and you protect it accordingly, start to consolidate. Work with IT specialists to see what bloated expenses you can cut, and how you can make your IT run more effeciently. If you have mobile staff members, the cloud with additional security features might be a good option for improving productivity.
Bottom line is that manufacturing and technology are becoming more entwined and if you don't take this opportunity to leverage that marriage, your competitor will. Enlisting the help of a managed services provider is the best way to do this. Technology is a very difficult DIY task to tackle and procuring specialists to help you is the best way to go.
To request a free consultation with a blackpoint consultant, you can schedule an appointment or call (866) 575-9512.