The growing need for factory operations to meet fast-changing customer and market requirements is driving manufacturers to be more agile and flexible than ever. With high-level objectives to compress time frames and streamline processes, manufacturers are developing new ways to unite their plant and business operations to also optimize resource use, drive customer requirements closer to the production line, and accelerate time to market. In a globally connected marketplace, speed, adaptability, and innovation are the new currencies in the manufacturing realm. Nowhere is this more evident than the convergence of Operations Technology (OT) and Information Technology
(IT).Traditionally focused on factory-based assets and processes, OT is largely comprised of plant systems such as sensors, machines,
devices, connectors, and applications that manage and monitor operations. For years, OT systems remained a distinct element within manufacturing workflows, but as the benefits of standards-based architectures, reliable high-speed networking, centralized management, and big data analytics transformed the role of IT, the wisdom of merging traditionally separate OT and IT ecosystems in manufacturing environments became unassailable. The ability of IT and OT leaders to jointly develop more agile, flexible, and transparent customer engagement and production models that span business systems, supply chains, and factory environments has today become a prerequisite for success and growth in the manufacturing sector.
BREAKING DOWN TRADITIONAL IT/ OPERATIONS SILOS
Seamlessly moving data across plant and business functions, and Extreme Manufacturing Solutions Operations Performance Analytics
applying analytical tools to enable new insights, requires a new approach into managing applications, networks, and systems. Tradition monitoring tools in factory environments were often isolated, closed-end systems, offering only a keyhole view of IT and operations performance. Additionally, the proprietary and separate nature of traditional networks in factory and business environments reduced shared visibility and added management complexity, resulting in either incompatible data sharing models or diffused responsibilities between the IT and Operations Technology teams.
These challenges are driving innovative manufacturers to increasingly leverage their wired and wireless networks as the focal point for reliably and consistently collecting data about applications, devices, users, geo-locations, bandwidth utilization, and much more. This “from the source” data can then be leveraged not only to track traditional network connectivity performance, but also deliver deep mission-critical insights into manufacturing application performance, real-time interactions, security postures, compliance metrics, and IT-driven business intelligence, as well as myriad other performance indicators.
GAINING CONTEXTUAL VISIBILITY INTO OPERATIONS
By capturing granular and contextual data traversing the network, manufacturers traditionally impeded by a lack of interoperability are now able apply network policies throughout the extended production process, track application performance across edge, data center and cloud environments, and share actionable data with vendors, partners, and business leaders to inform and improve decision-making. For example, a biotechnology firm investing in a cloud-based Manufacturing Execution System (MES) can now view application and location based wired/wireless network data to pro-actively identify performance issues on the plant floor, and ensure more reliable application response while ensuring that compliance and regulatory requirements are met and recorded. Predictive features can also automatically identify, report, and handle issues before they become problems and cause costly downtime to plant operations.
PROTECTING DATA ACROSS THE SUPPLY CHAIN
With each of the millions of connected sensors, devices, applications, and users in today’s extended manufacturing ecosystem serving as a prospective entry point for a security breach, managing the threats present in the new data driven manufacturing environment is paramount. The consequences of a breach can be devastating, not only for the business, but also for consumers ultimately at the end of the supply chain. Yet in the drive to increase efficiency, transparency, and connectivity, traditional approaches centered solely on firewalls and mobile device management lack safeguards against threats originating internally, across interconnected production facilities, and from newly converged business networks. Rigorous security compliance standards in manufacturing operations are needed to protect access to the network and maintain real-time protection against evolving threats – beginning with visibility into the profile and architecture of
approved applications, devices, and users, and the creation of a universal threat prevention posture that adapts to both functional challenges and the inevitable modifications to the IT/OT environments. To learn more visit Extreme’s Manufacturing Solutions site: