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Manufacturing Company? Here’s How to Protect Your Business from Downtime and Disruption

Reading Time: 6 minutes As a manufacturer, your equipment and machinery rely heavily on the computers configuring their performance. What would happen if those systems become compromised? How long could you afford to halt production?   In the manufacturing industry, downtime and disruption come with costs from all directions. For example, if production stops, overheads must still be paid. The inability to fill quotas will impact sales. This leads to reputational damage as customers are unable to place orders. And more so than many other industries, manufacturers are vulnerable to the effects of power surges, fire, flood, load shedding, and other calamities which could take IT systems and machinery offline. And along with downtime, there’s an equal risk of cybersecurity threats. Entire systems can fall victim to ransomware attacks. Employee identities can be stolen. A data breach can publicly expose decades of sensitive business data and financial records.   A proactive approach is thus essential for maintaining business continuity and protecting your bottom line. In this article, learn how manufacturing companies in South Africa can stay protected from downtime and data loss.   How Vulnerable Are You? If your manufacturing company identifies as a small to medium-sized business (SMB) that doesn’t have the resources […]
manufacturing company
19 May, 2021
Reading Time: 6 minutes

As a manufacturer, your equipment and machinery rely heavily on the computers configuring their performance. What would happen if those systems become compromised? How long could you afford to halt production?

 

In the manufacturing industry, downtime and disruption come with costs from all directions.

For example, if production stops, overheads must still be paid. The inability to fill quotas will impact sales. This leads to reputational damage as customers are unable to place orders.

And more so than many other industries, manufacturers are vulnerable to the effects of power surges, fire, flood, load shedding, and other calamities which could take IT systems and machinery offline. And along with downtime, there’s an equal risk of cybersecurity threats. Entire systems can fall victim to ransomware attacks. Employee identities can be stolen. A data breach can publicly expose decades of sensitive business data and financial records.

 

A proactive approach is thus essential for maintaining business continuity and protecting your bottom line. In this article, learn how manufacturing companies in South Africa can stay protected from downtime and data loss.

 

How Vulnerable Are You?

Vulnerable

If your manufacturing company identifies as a small to medium-sized business (SMB) that doesn’t have the resources or expertise to rapidly recover from a major IT outage, make sure you’re weighing in all the factors around the costs of downtime.

 

For example, load shedding, which is just one cause of business downtime today, is estimated to have cost South African businesses R13 billion in lost revenue in just the first half of 2015.

 

Guide To Deal With Power Outages In South Africa - iSite Computers

 

Obviously, without power, electronic equipment is inoperable. But more importantly, power outages can cause devastating damage to IT systems. The devices that your office relies on – computers, screens, projectors, printers, etc. – require a steady electrical current. When that current becomes irregular because of a power surge, permanent and costly damage to IT devices can occur.

 

In addition, there’s the “human factor” where your employee accidentally opens that seemingly innocent email inflicting the latest ransomware upon every computer and server in your business. It’s calamities like these that take IT systems offline and/or wipe out decades of critical data.

 

Related:

 

The Business Guide to Ransomware Protection

 

And when you factor in how long it can take to resume operations after downtime, the financial impact is even more apparent. According to research by IDG Communications, it takes around seven hours to resume normal operations after a data loss incident, with 18% of IT managers saying that it takes 11 to 24 hours – or even longer.

 

For these reasons, data backup and continuity solutions are essential for manufacturing companies to implement, regardless of size. Ultimately, the downtime costs that businesses incur without protections in place, justify the need to invest in them.

 

 

A False Sense of Security

Security

While businesses may be taking some precautions, not everyone is doing everything they can – or as often. In particular, there is a common misconception that data is safe if backed up once a day. But this outdated practice is not sufficient for several reasons:

 

  • If you only backup your files once daily, you’re still vulnerable to the loss of an entire day’s work. For example, you perform a backup at 6 pm every night. If a primary server crashed at 4 pm the next afternoon, all data created and altered within those 22 hours would be lost.
  • If you only back up your raw data, rather than all your software and server settings, it could take you several days to restore your business to the full operational condition –  rebuilding your servers, operating systems, software applications, network settings, email accounts, anti-virus, etc. all essentially from scratch. Multiple days of IT downtime is an obvious death sentence for business continuity.
  • If you don’t validate your backup files, you could be in for an unpleasant surprise when you actually try to restore your data. Like all computer systems, backups are prone to errors and can suffer corruption. It shouldn’t be the case that you need to restore your systems, only to then discover that data was not successfully backing up for weeks gone by.
  • If you forget to perform your backup or the backup process fails, you’re not protected. A common issue is that the backup process is not automated. The person in charge may forget to run the backup, may forget a hard drive off-site, or he might be off sick. And when the designated backup specialist resigns or is dismissed, so too does the backup process.
  • If you only backup your files on-site, you could lose them too – leaving you with no way to serve your clients. Natural disasters can wipe out entire facilities, so it is important to implement multiple, geographically separated data centres for backup storage.

Some manufacturers are turning to business interruption insurance to try to cover the costs to rebuild, restore, or regain lost income. While an insurance provider might write you a cheque for the cost of a server that gets damaged because of a power surge —it won’t be able to compensate you for the sheer aggravation of potentially having to spend days re-building your virtual environment from scratch. Most importantly, this type of coverage can’t shield you from damaged client relationships.

 

Eight Best Practices for Manufacturers

 

With the above in mind, here are some fundamental principles to help you avoid costly downtime:

 

  1. Outsource your IT needs to a specialist managed IT services provider who has experience with businesses in the manufacturing industry.
  2. Implement comprehensive data protection solutions that take snapshot-based, incremental backups to create a series of recovery points.
  3. Don’t sacrifice quality to save money when purchasing IT hardware and software. It will benefit you to have strong technology in the long run.
  4. Perform timely hardware and software updates, maintenance, and backups. This ensures all systems will be safeguarded against worst-case scenarios.
  5. Establish, review, and maintain the cybersecurity of all business technology and systems, even mobile devices.
  6. Conduct bi-annual training to inform staff about the risk of ransomware and other cyber threats. When new employees join the team, make sure you bring them up to date about cybersecurity best practices.
  7. Setup cloud-based email and software applications, so employees can easily work from home and access files if your office is without electricity or under lockdown restrictions.
  8. Consult with management and IT to develop a step-by-step business continuity plan when an IT outage occurs.

 

 

The Solution: Business Continuity

 

Business continuity describes a complete solution for backup and disaster recovery.

 

A true business continuity solution will protect your data across on-premises and cloud-based IT environments. Whether your data and intellectual property are living on servers, or in online software applications such as Sage Pastel, it is all backed up. For a manufacturer, intellectual property includes your vital protectable interests, such as trade secrets, product formulas, designs, production methods, costings, and customer lists, etc.

 

Additionally, business continuity goes a step further and offers you the ability to restore your data if things go wrong. This is referred to as disaster recovery. Whether it be a natural disaster, or man-made such as ransomware, a robust solution will have you up and running in just minutes or seconds.

 

Solutions that implement hybrid cloud backup can guarantee you even quicker restore time.

 

Why?

 

Your data is first copied and stored on a local device. That way, if something happens, you can do a fast and easy restore from that device. But then your data is also replicated in the cloud. So, if anything happens to that device, you’ve got off-site cloud copies of your data —without having to worry about moving copies of your data off-site physically.

 

Related:

 

Thought your data was safely backed up in the cloud? Think again…

Remember, cloud-only backup is risky because you can’t control the bandwidth. Restores tend to be difficult and time-consuming. After all, the cloud can fail, too. A hybrid model works to alleviate these vulnerabilities by implementing both processes to fill in the gaps.

 

That’s intelligent business continuity.

 

 

Conclusion

 

While IT outages are sometimes unavoidable, downtime and data loss doesn’t have to be.

 

Being proactive rather than reactive can save your manufacturing business a lot of pain in the long run. This is why a disaster preparation and business continuity strategy will ensure that you are able to mitigate, and sometimes even prevent, the impacts of any failures.

 

And subsequently, any impact to your customers, production, and bottom line. Investing in business continuity is the perfect solution for comprehensive, 24/7 protection. Expect an outage — but never accept downtime.

 

 

Experience Comprehensive Protection with iSite Computers

 

You manage your manufacturing business, we manage your IT.

 

That’s our promise and we mean it!

 

iSite Computers drives SMBs forward by relieving the burden of managing data protection and IT internally. Since 2008, iSite Computers has worked as a provider of comprehensive backup, recovery, cybersecurity, and business continuity solutions. Through eliminating downtime and maximising business continuity, we have the formulated processes and tools to help manufacturers save money and ultimately grow their business.

 

To learn how we can help, get in touch with us today. Give us a call on 031 812 9650 or schedule a free consultation and we’ll call you back soon.

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