I had a pretty wild night during my first semester of college. It was homecoming and my roommate and I had gotten our hands on some vodka, the kind that only a poor college student would buy. Fast forward to the next morning—my roommate and I woke up around noon with no recollection of the evening prior.
Just as I had a multitude of questions about that evening in college, you too should have questions about digitalizing your factory. Here are the next three things you should consider when digitalizing your factory floor (if you missed part one, head over here).
#5 How Much of an Investment is Required?
You would think that this would be a pretty obvious one but keep reading to make sure you cover your bases. Determining your upfront cost probably sounds pretty simple. Just determine which devices are needed for purchase, estimate the amount of labor required and the cost associated with it, etc. A mistake that many manufacturers make is that they forget other costs associated with digitalization. For instance, you’re going to need a cybersecurity system, and let me tell you those are not cheap, especially not the good ones. If you are looking for a cybersecurity tool that can do a little bit of everything, I recommend the ICS-Defender. This handy gadget can do deep packet inspection, act as a remote access firewall, perform network address translation, and more. Don’t forget to factor in the amount of productivity lost as a result of training and acclimation to the new equipment.
#6 How Will These Changes Impact Our Employees?
I will be the first to say that I absolutely hate change, and I know that I am not the only one that avoids it at all costs. Proof, I have owned the same pair of moccasins since 2017. They are very worn out and I have gotten far more than my money’s worth for them, but they fit my feet just right and I don’t want to change that. If you are digitalizing your factory, there are going to be some unavoidable big changes. We all know what is needed when you implement new technology—training! I mean, who doesn’t like a good training session? One thing that you simply must remember is that while humans are malleable and can adapt to this new factory you are creating, they are also imperfect. Errors will be made, and you must account for that. This is simply par for the course, but the benefits will make it all worth it.
#7 What if We Have Devices that We are Not Ready to Part Ways With?
Some factories contain machines that are very old, very expensive, and don’t necessarily need to be replaced. For example, the Lipton tea factory has a machine that makes tea bags. The process of creating this product hasn’t changed in a hundred years and probably won’t change for another hundred. It isn’t rocket science. The machine runs just fine and doesn’t really need to be replaced. But how are you just supposed to integrate a machine that is as old as dirt into a factory that otherwise has the newest technology? The simple answer: you’re going to need a device that can connect it to the rest of the industrial network. You need a gateway. A gateway will allow your old, dependable device to communicate with the new machines and devices.
Thanks for reading part two of this series. As always, if you have questions about factory connectivity, give us a buzz at 1-800-249-1612 or send us an email. Our application engineers are friendly, knowledgeable, and are also full of embarrassing stories from their college years.