The benefits of implementing various Industry 4.0 technologies are numerous, but the risks can seem even greater. It’s through understanding and managing these risks that you can really make your setup work more efficiently and effectively.
Industry 4.0 setups are known for the copious amounts of data they pump out. Add in multiple connected systems with Bluetooth connections, and information being exchanged over an intra or internet and you have a recipe for increased vulnerability against security breaches. If you’re to rely on all this data to perform more efficiently, then how can you guard against intrusions which might undo all your hard work?
First, set clear security protocols for how data is handled at the machine and human levels. This can go a long way to keeping the data safer while allowing it to still flow “freely” so it can get to where it needs to go. Second, make sure that your IT department is aware of and is actively monitoring any currently implemented technologies. They should also be made aware of any plans to implement future technologies, so they can weigh in on any potential security risks and have time to come up with solutions beforehand. Third, any third-party systems should be analyzed and monitored for security pitfalls. You should also know what their own security practices are, so you can be assured you’re partnering with a company that prepares for and is prepared if a security breach happens.
A breakdown in one area of a factory with less interconnected systems might mean that only one part of that factory is unavailable for use during the breakdown (at least for a small amount of time). Today’s Industry 4.0 factories are more interconnected, so a breakdown in one area could mean putting your entire, or almost your entire production line out of commission until that one area is fixed. If the timeframe of that breakdown drags out, that could potentially put you at financial risk. So, how can you mitigate this risk so it doesn’t have such an impact when it happens?
The first thing to do is make sure you fully understand how your systems are integrated, and what they will affect if they do go down. You can also see if there is an alternative technology that can be implemented which might not have such an impact when it does break down. The second thing is to invest in the right people who can diagnose and fix the problem as soon as possible. This usually means investing in more skilled and knowledgeable staff. Lastly, make sure all departments are aware of your current and future plans for Industry 4.0 setups. Getting everyone’s input means you have the chance to get a perspective you are not or were not thinking about, which could help improve efficiency.
The Right People
As we move into more automated systems that have less need for a large workforce, there becomes an increased need for a more skilled and technologically capable workforce. This is actually a good thing. As we’ve learned over the last couple of years, the workforce is not an infinite resource that can just be pulled from whenever we want. And the skilled workforce can seem even shallower by comparison. So, how do you know who to hire and when you need to hire?
Initially, it’s good to know your unique workforce issues. Are you lacking enough of one kind of worker? Do you know the kind of staff you need to fill specific roles? Do you have too much workforce in one part of the operation, while another suffers? These are all questions that need to be answered. Next, make sure you’re bringing your best game to the table when it comes to staff benefits, and make likely candidates aware of those benefits from the start. Third, be aware that as your setup changes, your need for different kinds of workers can and will change. Knowing this ahead of time can help you get up to speed quicker when implementing anything new.
Risk Management in Industry 4.0
Risk management in Industry 4.0 is not only ever-changing (as new technologies are available) but also unique to each company. Knowing where your own risks lie and how you can plan for and counteract them will help your company work more efficiently and effectively.