As a manufacturer, you have unique challenges that aren’t present in other IT infrastructures. You’re dealing with specialized tools, legacy systems that were built ages ago, and interconnected teams that are required for a smooth operation. When something goes wrong in one part of the manufacturing process, you could end up with crippling downtime or another major problem.

IT Challenges for Manufacturers

File Sharing and Collaboration

Information sharing brings many benefits to the manufacturing process, but many companies struggle with implementing file sharing and collaboration. Admin staff, engineers, production managers, outside sales and other stakeholders use a variety of technology to accomplish their work. These solutions may not easily integrate with one another, especially if they are legacy systems.

Without easy file sharing and collaboration, it’s difficult to optimize manufacturing processes and decrease production costs. A lack of integration between systems also leads to more opportunities for human error to cause problems.

Reliable Network

Downtime causes a lot of havoc in a manufacturing environment. It impacts productivity, throws off production schedules and increases the company’s expenses. When you face unexpected downtime, especially during time-sensitive projects, you may lose hundreds of thousands of dollars per hour or more.

An unreliable network doesn’t need to go down completely to cause hardships. Slowdowns and intermittent outages are enough to lead to a lot of frustration and inability to get work done.

Scalability

Many manufacturers use legacy systems that they’ve relied on for years. Those solutions were top of the line when they first debuted, but now they’ve fallen behind the times. Their capacity may not meet the manufacturer’s current and future needs.

You already work in a competitive manufacturing landscape that relies on getting the best profit margin possible, so you don’t want to find yourself in a position of being unable to meet the demand.

When an older system scales poorly, you have to scramble to bring in whatever resources are available to meet the new requests. Since you have limited time to prepare, you often pay more to acquire the added capacity or it’s not the most efficient option.

Network Security

Every industry has the threat of network intrusion looming over its head. Cybercriminals find entry points through many methods, ranging from basic social engineering to highly sophisticated code.

When you have a complex IT infrastructure, or one that’s not designed to handle modern cybersecurity threats, your organization is at risk of a costly attack.

IT Solutions for Manufacturers

Addressing these challenges requires a multi-part approach that sets your manufacturing company up for long-term success.

Cloud File Sharing and Collaboration

Cloud-based systems centralize resources, such as data. Stakeholders have an easier time accessing the data that they need when it’s all in an accessible location. Sharing files and encouraging collaboration between different departments and teams becomes a seamless experience rather than a frustrating one.

Proactive IT Maintenance and Hardware Upgrades

Reactive IT maintenance approaches set your manufacturing business up for downtime and other problems. When your IT team has the solutions they need to take a proactive approach, they head off issues long before they would impact your bottom line.

Hardware upgrades are another essential part of addressing common challenges that manufacturing companies face. While the upfront expenses associated with these changes may seem daunting, the long-term ROI is favorable. You end up losing more in opportunity costs with obsolete systems, especially if competing manufacturers have modern solutions in place.

IT Strategy

A cohesive IT strategy should account for where your company is now and how to handle operations as it grows and changes. This documented plan covers all aspects of how the IT infrastructure impacts your manufacturing processes. When you make IT decisions, you want to understand how they fit into the overall IT strategy.

Upper management and other important stakeholders should collaborate to put together an IT strategy that truly accounts for everything affecting your manufacturing processes. If a key area gets overlooked, then it becomes more challenging to optimize your operations and improve your revenue.

Cybersecurity, Response Plans and Monitoring

Every manufacturer needs robust cybersecurity measures in place, as cybercrime shows no signs of decreasing in frequency or severity. You need to consider internal and external threats and the likely targets of the attackers. Network monitoring can pick up on potential or active intrusions, and a documented response plan allows you to act quickly.

How Managed Service Provider Helps Implement These Solutions

Your business focuses on manufacturing, not IT. Implementing all of these changes could tie up all of your IT resources and make it impossible for them to respond to urgent matters. A managed service provider offers your business the IT professionals needed to put your plans into place.

They can also work with you on developing an IT strategy that is a perfect fit for your organization and identifying the solutions you need to support your manufacturing goals.

Manufacturing has a complex IT landscape with so many moving parts that small changes in one area can have a domino effect. You need the right tools and team to improve this delicate balance without toppling everything over. Managed service providers offer a cost-effective way to accomplish this.

If you’re a manufacturer in Michigan and need help addressing your challenges with technology, check out our Manufacturing IT Services or give us a call and speak to our IT professionals today. We help manufacturers throughout Michigan align technology with business goals so they can focus on providing high-quality products, amazing customer service, and scale their business.