Making The Most of Your IT Infrastructure

Tony Mannion, Business Unit Leader Industrial IT from SolutionsPT, looks at the pressures faced by manufacturing businesses and the tell-tale signs that they’ve outgrown their infrastructures.

SolutionsPT Tony MannionMaking the jump from SME to a larger enterprise is exciting, but not without its challenges. Having the right software and technology in place is essential to growing a business, yet many companies – particularly manufacturers – are being constrained by out-dated process and applications. So how can decision makers identify when their IT systems have reached the tipping point?

À la suite du récent ralentissement financier et de la reprise qui s’est ensuivie, il est maintenant essentiel que les fabricants s’assurent de maximiser leurs actifs et leurs applications pour atteindre leurs objectifs commerciaux. Alors que l'informatique est devenue un service de plus en plus essentiel pour les fabricants, l'exigence de non-défaillance des systèmes et de cohérence des performances n'a pas cessé non plus.

Pour rester en avance sur la courbe, les fabricants britanniques doivent utiliser les dernières innovations technologiques. Cela devient de plus en plus important lorsque vous considérez un récent rapport du ministère des Sciences, dans lequel l'industrie manufacturière britannique était l'un des secteurs qui connaîtrait de profondes mutations au cours des prochaines années, l'impact de l'Internet des objets se généralisant.

L'Internet des objets n'est qu'une des nombreuses nouvelles approches qui permettront aux fabricants du pays de rassembler des analyses plus intelligentes et «en temps réel», ce qui leur permettra de voir comment et pourquoi leurs usines fonctionnent. Toutefois, avant de pouvoir adopter et s’adapter, les fabricants doivent examiner de près la qualité des systèmes informatiques qu’ils utilisent actuellement.

Les fabricants doivent être conscients de nombreux points de pression en ce qui concerne les performances et la puissance de leurs systèmes informatiques. Les actifs vieillissants et le remplacement des legs sont l’un des obstacles les plus coûteux, qui doivent souvent être remplacés pour éviter les temps morts imprévus et inutiles. La concurrence accrue exige des systèmes qui donnent aux fabricants l'avantage et la capacité d'opérer plus rapidement et d'accroître la productivité. Avec la multiplication des cybermenaces dans le monde, la sécurité et la résilience constituent plus que jamais un aspect essentiel des systèmes informatiques.

Attention, les petites choses comptent beaucoup…

Identifying these potential issues before they turn into more serious problems is vitally important and there are a number of tell-tale signs that can help manufacturers spot the first signs of an outgrown IT system. For instance, if the cost of maintenance and continued usage of the system become prohibitive, it is time to look at a replacement structure. Similarly, as businesses grow, so too does the amount of data that is generated. If systems are not set up to support this growth then manufacturers could be basing key decision making on false, incomplete or inaccurate data.

Des données précises sont essentielles pour obtenir une intelligence opérationnelle et gagner en efficacité.

The inability of systems to adapt is a further indication that it is time to reassess IT provisions. This can be identified by businesses spending vast amounts of time and money integrating data from different sources and equally large resources used on system maintenance. The most damaging result of inflexibility can be as the company is growing and expanding into new markets or launching new ranges, the infrastructure and system it is based on is limiting and therefore holding it back. Today’s manufacturers need to offer their customers flexibility. Whilst some may want a standard product, others will require variations bespoke to certain markets. Older systems often prevent manufacturers responding flexibly to these requests, leading to lost revenue opportunities.

As a company grows, so does its geographical spread. Opening international offices or production sites will only add to the pressure placed on existing systems. These offices, or sites, need to be able to communicate seamlessly. They will all be producing their own data, but to ensure the overall business is operating efficiently, engineers and operatives need access to all the information being produced. If the correct system is in place then data silos are created where potentially valuable data that could drive business decisions is simply wasted.

L’indicateur le plus coûteux selon lequel un fabricant est devenu trop grand pour ses systèmes informatiques, c’est quand il devient trop dépendant de processus manuels - processus que, dans un scénario idéal, le système pourrait prendre lui-même. L'informatique est censée accroître l'efficacité en rendant les processus d'automatisation faciles à mettre en œuvre et en normalisant davantage les résultats. Toutefois, si le système ne fonctionne pas, les charges de travail existantes seront ajoutées à la nécessité de vérifier manuellement les systèmes et de corriger les problèmes éventuels.

This said, few companies are able to afford a complete overhaul of their IT systems and infrastructure, so the key to delivering much needed improvement is by managing the existing legacy systems. This can be achieved by carefully protecting and preserving IT investments to ensure that they remain operational and perform to a high standard for as long as possible.

Ne paniquez pas, vous pouvez avoir de l'aide…

Legacy systems can also be migrated onto new manageable, scalable technology. Legacy IT system migration is the process of transferring data or programs from one computer system, software application or website to another. This may involve physical system migration, when old hardware is no longer capable of meeting the needs of the system or if it has been damaged. It may also take the form of software or data-based migration, where files, data, users and many other settings are transferred between systems.

Ensuring that the right knowledge and experience exists within organisations can guarantee that IT systems are maximised to work efficiently, delivering the support and services required. However, this does not have to mean employing an entire new workforce of IT specialists. In truth, the skills gap within the IT sector means that more companies are turning to managed services to support their IT systems. This means that a third party can be used to manage and monitor IT systems, allowing manufacturers to benefit from their expertise and knowledge, whilst providing the peace-of-mind that systems are operating as expected and risk and downtime are reduced.

Ensuring that factories are secure from cyber threats, operating efficiently and producing to a high quality should be high on any manufacturers list of priorities. What links these separate issues is that they can all be improved by ensuring that IT systems are fit for purpose. Importantly, it is now time for manufacturers to review their plant floor infrastructure and what options are available to them. It comes down to a simple choice – preserve and protect or modernise.

Industrie de process Informer

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