Is your shop floor technology on the fritz? It’s vital that you take these steps to keep your tech working consistently and reduce the risk of failure.
Technology has always been an essential component of manufacturing, all the way back to the days of Henry Ford and the first moving assembly line for vehicle production in 1913. In 2018, another first was introduced in Japan: the first humanless warehouse that is completely run by robots. Most manufacturing shop floors are not to the extreme of either of these examples, but there are generally computers available for manufacturing, packing and shipping orders as well as any plant automation that you have in place. One of the key challenges for manufacturers is ensuring that these business machines work efficiently or productivity on the shop floor can quickly grind to a halt. Here are some of the main environmental dangers facing shop floor technology, and how you can guard against damage that might slow down production.
Each new generation of technology improves upon prior generation, and that includes the general hardiness of the equipment. Ruggedized equipment is available that can resist the additional stress that is caused by a more extreme environment that might be found on the shop floor. Aging infrastructure such as cabling, slower WiFi connections, old computers and out-of-date software more can significantly slow down production rates and cause staff members to frequently stop for repairs or to wait for IT team members to make fixes or add software patches. Keeping your business machines running with regular maintenance and review is every bit as important to smooth and consistent work as ensuring that your production machines are regularly serviced.
While a few light bumps along the way are unlikely to damage your computers, ongoing vibrations are much more of a problem. The delicate parts within a computer are not built to withstand ongoing jostles, and vibrations can lead to a fracturing of the internal parts or cause hard drives to malfunction. Keep laptops, desktops and servers out of the way of main hallways within the warehouse as this will help reduce the possibility that your technology will be bumped by workers carrying heavy parts, forklifts and other moving parts.
What happens if you have a power surge on the plant floor — are all of your computers at risk of being damaged during a power surge? Standard surge protectors simply may not be enough to keep shop floor technology safe in the event of a large electrical event such as a lightning strike. Power outages are also a major complication for your business. Without access to supplemental power, will you be losing information and productive time when your staff could be working? These small annoyances can add up over the course of a month to cost your business thousands of dollars in product yield.
Your shop floor computers are likely hooked directly into your main business systems, making them a point of vulnerability for your business. Ensure that access to these systems is reviewed regularly, and encourage staff members to only utilize their own logins instead of sharing passwords or login information with co-workers. Anytime you have staff turnover, quickly deactivate access for that user and maintain a high level of awareness of employees who have access to critical customer data and intellectual property. Maintaining a proactive security posture with your staff members can help reduce the possibility of malware entering your shop — something that can be devastating for the productivity of your business and expensive to remediate, too.
Keeping your business safe from technology failure involves more than simply keeping it away from dust and vibrations. It’s extremely important that you also ensure that your network is running smoothly and securely and that you have the manufacturing IT support that you need — when you need it. The professionals at Data Magic Computer Services will help keep your business and shop floor technology running like magic! Contact them today at 469-213-6508 or learn more online by filling out their quick contact form.