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What are the Challenges in Manufacturing Digitization?
Fremont, CA: Robots powered by artificial intelligence (AI), 3D printing, the Internet of Things (IoT) - there's whole world of advanced manufacturing technology and innovation waiting for small and medium-sized manufacturers (SMMs) who want to up their digital game. Sadly, manufacturing digitization can introduce new fundamental challenges, such as increased cybersecurity risk.
So, how do smaller manufacturers improve their advanced manufacturing technology capabilities while balancing the risks involved? Let's take a look at some of the most common challenges that SMMs face when implementing advanced manufacturing technology applications.
All technology implementations must begin with a cybersecurity plan. A solid cybersecurity strategy not only assists manufacturers in identifying and improving current security protocols but also positions them to manage future risks.
Key stakeholders should identify the most important information assets to safeguard, map how that information flows through the organization (both now and with any proposed technology or process changes), and assess the level of risk if that information is lost or compromised.
This establishes the framework for how the company will address risks to that information and can be used to assign risk management roles, develop secure procedures, and put in place appropriate safeguards.
Technology evolves at a much faster rate than traditional manufacturing equipment, with many products having an expected lifespan of fewer than ten years and planned obsolescence of three to five years. The older a technology infrastructure, the more difficult it is to adapt to a digitized manufacturing environment.
Appropriate data can be shared between a variety of systems in a fully realized digitized environment. However, if business platforms and technologies are more than five years old, they may be incapable of reading, writing, or sharing data as required.
Updating technology can be extremely difficult due to the numerous interdependencies that must be considered. To upgrade systems without disrupting production, a carefully tested parallel, phased, or piloted implementation approach can be used. Utilizing a more modular approach to technology, such as standard application programming interfaces (APIs), can help to alleviate these concerns for future innovation implementation.