The first industrial revolution was centred on use of steam to power machines. The second saw electricity transform assembly lines. The third revolved around the use of IT to further automate production lines.
Now it is the beginning of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, coined Industry 4.0, which will see the Internet of Things (IoT) overhaul not only business, but nearly all aspects of our daily lives. From cars, to fridges, to glasses to heart monitors and dams. It is a move towards complete connectivity.
The Industry 4.0 movement is expected to revolutionise all areas in the manufacturing space, looking to connect all the elements in the production process within the industrial sector: machines, products, systems, and people.
This connectivity will serve to make today’s enterprises more competitive by enabling them to fully automate their manufacturing processes, whilst collecting and analysing data in real-time to tailor their products to specific client needs.
To achieve this agile transformation, today’s companies will need to embrace the cloud as well as invest in a robust data security environment, and analyse their existing IT infrastructure to ensure it meets their IoT needs.
Ensuring their network, branch and remote sites have a strong foundation and that they have in place a solid visibility strategy, is the best place to start.
Re-evaluate network architecture
Organisations will only be successful in implementing new digital technologies if their network is both flexible and agile.
The future ‘smart factories’ will house an increasing number of connected objects creating billions of new end points, and transmitting information and interacting with applications – are already struggling to stay in control of inflexible, complex networks.
Many will look to storing information in the cloud as well as on local systems – generating what are known as hybrid environments – this only increases the strain on the network, which traditional networking technologies are simply not designed to handle.
To prepare themselves, many organisations looking for new systems are opting to use Software-Defined-WAN, or SD-WAN networks, which allows the ability to make quick adjustments to their network’s performance and application delivery, whilst meeting the business’ ever-changing needs.
SD-WAN also enables organisations to direct traffic and deploy network services across a wide area network from a central hub.
This results in reduced costs and operational complexity; and also serves to increase optimisation in order to deliver best-performance applications and experiences to the end-user.
Ensuring ROBO offices are up to speed
Branch offices and manufacturing sites are integral to any manufacturing business.
They serve as separate data centres which are difficult to maintain and protect.
These sites often fall victim to unscheduled downtime and data loss which lead to a range of productivity issues including assembly-line stoppage, missed sales opportunities, lost revenues as well as reputation damage.
Setting up these remote offices and sites is no easy feat, they often incur a significant IT investment. In fact, Riverbed found that branch offices represent 50% of an average company’s total IT budget.
However, with half of today’s IT organisations using outdated methods of operation, businesses are finding it difficult to address pain points that impact overall business agility and performance.
New IT services take longer to implement and provision. Data loss is more likely to occur when it’s stored outside the secure data centre. And, when something goes wrong, it’s difficult to recover data and restore business operations in a timely manner.
As such, many organisations are now looking to implement specifically designed technologies made for ROBO offices.
This allows IT teams to virtualise and consolidate 100% of data and servers from remote sites into data centres, centralising data security and IT management without losing the benefits of running branch services locally.
New tools allow for instantaneous provisioning and recovery, which provides complete security and visibility into the network, improving data security, business continuity, agility, and operational efficiency – the foundations of any successful business transformation.
Allowing for optimal performance
Industry 4.0 is set to revolutionise the way industries produce and consume products, serving to boost manufacturer productivity around the world. However, this increased connectivity will also increase network strain.
There will be an increasing number of blind spots in the application delivery which could ultimately affect product delivery processes and a company’s bottom line.
Any company looking to fully embark on a digital transformation needs to be able to deploy new applications and SaaS rapidly, it is critical for success.
Ensuring your business is prepared for Industry 4.0 is integral to standing out in an increasingly competitive and changing marketplace.