Make Your Smart Manufacturing Initiatives Even Smarter

Assessments

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Selecting the right partner for your Network Services is a crucial choice.

 

Without one, your manufacturing network can become the sticking point for the rest of your business, leaving the IT and OT sides of your network poorly connected and your network open to threats. It’s not just a matter of finding an IT company, especially now that so much of the shop floor now have cloud-based technology.  It’s about finding a partner that can help you operate more efficiently and impact the bottom line.

 

A partner should be able to integrate your enterprise and plant floor networks seamlessly, provide the remote access users need, and protect your company against security breaches.  At Applied Technologies, we have a team of industry-certified professionals to find the best and most cost-effective solution for you.

 

Finding the Right Solution

Applied Technologies’ Network Services start with facility and security assessments. We offer several assessment options to identify areas that may expose your business or have an impact on your processes. These options include security, access (network), and structured cabling assessments.  After we review both IT and OT infrastructure, we provide our analysis with a high-level summary so you can effectively prioritize the most important first steps.

Security

Security assessments are particularly important. As the possibility of cybercrime continues to increase, security attacks are inevitable. However, with the right security services, a network breach doesn’t have to be. We partner with you to ensure we understand your policies, practices, and processes as we design solutions to keep your business secure. Our security options include:

  • Compliance: Includes Payment card industry (PCI), International Standards Organization (ISO), and more
  • Assessments: Includes IT risk assessment, penetration testing, social engineering, and threat analysis
  • Information Technology: Includes next-generation firewall (NGFW), advanced malware protection, and email
  • Incident Response: Includes detection, testing and training, digital forensics, and more

Visit the Applied Technologies website for a complete list of our security options.

Remote Access

Every network is different, as is the level of remote or mobile access your users may need. What remains consistent is the importance of keeping that remote access safe and reliable. We have extensive experience in both designing and implementing core and edge devices, as well as the cable plant design needed to support them.

Structured Cabling

Assessing the physical set up of your network is just as important as assessing how the network could be compromised and attacked. The Applied Technologies team works with manufacturers to plan, implement, and manage structured cabling solutions, including assisting with developing requests for RFPs. Whether it’s third-party testing, finding the right contractor resources, wireless network design, or power protect, Applied Technologies will be with you every step of the way.

Are you ready to get started with network services to make your manufacturing network safer and more efficient? Contact us today to get started and find the best solutions for your company.

How to Implement Successful Connected Enterprise Strategy to Enable Smart Manufacturing

IIoT

“If you build it, they will come.” That famous movie line sticks in the minds of many. While it was an inspirational message for building Kevin Costner’s Field of Dreams, it’s not an ideal approach for finding success with your smart manufacturing strategy. Perhaps this is why a large number of these types of initiatives fail, or why large-scale alignment never takes root.

 

Applied Technologies’ vision is to help your manufacturing and distribution facilities achieve success.  In 2018, we were proud to welcome industry veteran Ray Zimmermann to the team, who brings more than 35 years of experience working for corporations such as Anheuser-Busch, Container Corporation of America, and Olin Corporation in the successful implementation of their automation and smart manufacturing programs. The proven process Ray brings to each situation helps to ensure alignment, enthusiasm for the initiative, and measurable indicators that help everyone involved see the progress.

Ray is a vocal champion of the “top-down” approach for the development of a connected enterprise roadmap. He recently shared his insight on how to build a successful plan.

What is a typical automation scenario, and why does it not serve an organization well?

 

Ray: In many industrial facilities, automation is viewed as a technology issue. It’s a very functional and siloed / equipment centric approach in which a piece of software or hardware is introduced to address a very specific situation. At that point, the solution is primarily technology focused… (how do we get this to run). In other cases, the folks on the plant floor – the operational technology (OT) team – are considering how to make processes more efficient and streamlined. They’re focused on one piece of equipment, one process or one department. Traditionally, IT and OT operate separately because they report up through different arms of the company: IT reports through the financial arm and ultimately through the CFO, while OT reports through plant management and engineering.

This approach results in limited success because of three major factors:

  1. It’s fragmented and typically reliant on the scope of a single piece of technology.
  2. It’s a bottom-up situation that’s not aligned with the overall strategic objectives of the organization.
  3. It’s not embraced in a large-scale way across the organization.
How can a comprehensive, top-down approach help to ensure success?

 

Ray: Throughout the course of my career, I’ve been involved in several automation and smart manufacturing initiatives for major corporations who have taken a top-down approach. When this scenario is in place, the chances of achieving success are quite high for a variety of reasons:

  1. The initiative is being driven by leadership to address overall business goals. At that point, they know where they want to go and have created a long-term vision around how to extract business value from the technology
  2. The discussions revolve around how to leverage technology to arrive at this vision. Technology in and of itself will not address overarching organizational objectives, fix organizational challenges, or drive a company into the future. In fact, a technology-driven initiative is a narrow and sub-optimal approach.
  3. It creates departmental alignment and collaboration, removing the barriers between IT and OT and fostering a sense of shared ownership in achieving the business goals.
  4. It ushers in culture change in most organizations, empowering teams at all levels to play a part in changing the way business processes are run.
What are the key steps that must be taken in order for this to happen?

 

Ray: The starting point involves examining your business needs. Where are the gaps? Where does the organization need to go (or how does it need to evolve) to address your market in the future? Some of these will be larger and longer-term in scope, but there are some more digestible initiatives that you can begin chipping away at within the next 12-24 months. The leadership team must identify those with the biggest payoff and put a business change management plan and technology plan in place to start getting some traction.

Next identify a group of people that will play a role in envisioning what the future of your organization looks like. What is your future state? What will you be doing, who will you be serving, and what does my product look like five years from now? The people close to the product and processes will know where these gaps are.

Once the group has identified the gaps, begin assessing the gains. In other words, if we fix these issues, what’s it worth to the organization? You can then begin working on the details in terms of the processes and technology required to arrive at the solution. This brings forward the things that IT people like to talk about, and integrates the things that OT teams like to work on.  This is the part in the process that bridges the gap between the two disciplines, and creates cooperation towards a common, organization-wide goal.

What are the dangers of not embracing top-down enterprise strategies?

 

Ray: One thing has always been true in the world of manufacturing – you must always be in reinvention mode. If you don’t, another company will. I like to use the analogy of the buggy. You don’t see buggies anymore because someone came up with a better product: the car! And someday, cars will be replaced by something else. Or, your competitor may identify a way to make your same product better, cheaper, or quicker, causing you to lose market share. Top-down strategy helps the organization to envision what’s next, mapping out how the organization will get there and identifying what processes and technologies will make it happen.

If that doesn’t wake you up to the importance of top-down strategy, consider this. It’s ultimately more expensive to do it the other way around. A bottom-up approach does not breed success and the chance of choosing the wrong (or outdated) technology solution is high, or the solution chosen is not supported across the entire organization.

A key point to consider: It’s very difficult to end up with a Connected Enterprise and realize the value of Smart Manufacturing  from a Technology perspective with Disconnected Business processes and or Organizations.

Those who embrace this process and forward-planning will be the leaders of tomorrow while the rest risk being left behind – or going the way of the buggy.

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Ray Zimmermann

Throughout our conversation, Ray highlighted the fact that this process doesn’t happen overnight. The great news is that he knows how to lead an organization through a successful rollout. In our next blog, he’ll share that information and show you how to make the process digestible for your team.

To start the conversation regarding your IIoT requirements, please contact us today at 636.274.8030.