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IT Solutions for Manufacturing:

The Ultimate Guide To Manufacturing IT

Manufacturers are under constant pressure to bolster supply chain resiliency and cut costs without compromising product quality. Embracing technology is no longer a choice; it's a necessity. But with so much of the modern manufacturing process dependent on your business network staying online, any downtime can be catastrophic.

Manufacturers experience 800 hours of equipment downtime per year, which breaks down to over 15 nonproductive hours per week.1 All that downtime adds up – one study found that unplanned downtime can cost manufacturers as much as $50 billion a year.2

That’s where managed IT services step in. A managed IT services provider (MSP) can give your manufacturing businesses a strategic advantage by providing expert technology services and responsive support. Read on to learn why managed IT services are indispensable for manufacturing businesses and how you can find the right MSP to work with today.

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What IT Challenges Do Manufacturers Face?

Having the wrong technology in place or not having enough IT support can create overwhelming challenges that stagnate your productivity, security, and operational efficiency. Some of the challenges of IT for manufacturing include:

What Is Digital Transformation
for Manufacturers?

Digital transformation or digitization is a process aimed at helping manufacturers future-proof their operations using new technologies. By implementing advanced IT solutions and strategies, manufacturers can more easily address supply chain challenges, increase flexibility, and meet the changing market head-on.

Manufacturers should focus on a number of different factors when building a digitization strategy. All of these require a strong IT infrastructure and a reliable networking provider:

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features

Check Out Our Features

Managed IT services allow organizations to outsource their IT operations to an MSP. When you work with an MSP, they take over day-to-day tasks such as network monitoring, updates and patching, workstation support, and more to help your business minimize downtime and improve productivity.

Popular features of managed IT services include:

  • Technical support to troubleshoot IT problems ranging anywhere from software glitches to network connectivity problems.
  • Proactive monitoring of your IT environment, including your networks, servers, and devices, to identify and resolve any issues before they can impact your business.
  • Device patching and maintenance to ensure your IT environment is always up-to-date and secure.
  • Security measures to safeguard your data and systems from cyber threats such as malware, data breaches, and unauthorized access.
  • Technology consulting to support your in-house team and ensure you meet your digital transformation project deadlines on time.
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benefits

What Are the Benefits of Managed IT for Manufacturers?

MSPs can look at your entire IT infrastructure and help optimize your manufacturing processes with better cyber security, compliance, and cloud services. Some of the biggest advantages of working with a managed IT service provider to provide IT support for manufacturing include:

Increased Visibility

Manufacturers have a wide range of assets, from machinery to devices, which they need to track for efficiency. The right MSP can implement tracking solutions to provide better control over equipment lifecycles, maintenance schedules, and resource allocation.

Managed IT services also offer more visibility into the production process with real-time analytics. This increased visibility can help manufacturers anticipate issues like production bottlenecks, hardware failures, or network congestion and intervene before they can impact productivity.

Reduced Downtime

Network downtime at manufacturing plants can waste up to 10% of available production time.2 MSPs can proactively monitor your systems to detect issues early and implement preventive measures, reducing the risk of downtime that could disrupt your manufacturing operations.

Better Inventory Management

Managed IT services can improve inventory management by providing technological solutions that enhance visibility and efficiency throughout the manufacturing lifecycle. Having solid IT infrastructure in place can help you automate day-to-day operations processes, such as data entry and reordering systems, to increase accuracy in inventory records. 

An MSP can also ensure seamless integration between your inventory management system and your suppliers’ systems for real-time communication about inventory levels and order status, improving coordination and reducing lead times.

Greater Scalability

Manufacturers often experience fluctuating demands based on market trends and customer orders. Managed IT services can scale your IT resources up or down quickly to match changing manufacturing needs, so you can avoid overprovisioning and ensure optimal system performance.

Fewer Errors

You can reduce manufacturing errors by implementing automated quality control systems that monitor production processes in real-time. These systems use sensors and data analytics to catch defects and other errors early, reducing the likelihood of defective products reaching the final stages of production. Having a solid IT and networking foundation will enable these tools to work optimally. 

Optimized Supply Chain

Boosting supply chain visibility is a top priority for manufacturing industry leaders – which is likely why 94% of manufacturers have implemented advanced analytics tools.3 Leverage analytics and machine learning algorithms to forecast demand more accurately and help optimize production schedules, inventory levels, and procurement decisions.

Regulatory Compliance

Businesses in the manufacturing sector typically have to meet industry-specific regulations and compliance standards. MSPs can help you implement and maintain IT systems that meet these requirements to reduce the risk of facing penalties for noncompliance.

Improved Security

Manufacturing companies faced the highest share of cyber security incidents in 2022, with attacks targeting manufacturers accounting for nearly 25% of total cyber attacks worldwide.4 Managed IT service providers typically offer robust security measures to help safeguard against cyber threats and data breaches, so you can rest easier knowing your critical data is secure.

What Managed IT Services
Do Manufacturers Need?

Manufacturers can use a wide range of managed IT services to improve productivity, reduce downtime, optimize the supply chain, and more.

Popular IT solutions for manufacturing include:

How to Choose the Right
Managed IT Services Provider

Finding the right MSP for your manufacturing business can be difficult when you’re not sure what to look for. Whether you’re looking for a team of experts to outsource your entire IT operations to or you’d like to support your internal IT department, there are a number of factors to keep in mind when comparing providers.

Here are a few important considerations when hiring a managed IT services provider:

Make sure you have a firm understanding of your IT needs, and look for providers that can help you fill in the gaps. Defining your business goals will guide your search for the right MSP and help eliminate those that don’t offer the specific services you’re looking for.
Businesses in the manufacturing industry are no strangers to compliance requirements. The right MSP should have experience helping manufacturers meet and maintain compliance, from environmental regulations to quality standards and beyond.
Nobody knows what the future holds, so working with a provider who can quickly adapt as your business evolves is important. If (and when) your technology needs change, your MSP should be able to offer expertise in what is new and what security measures are needed to keep you protected. 
Are your MSP’s support staff experienced enough to help with the unique IT challenges manufacturers face? Find out if their support team includes employees that can offer all the support you’ll need, including engineers, security experts, on-site technicians, service desk operators, etc. The more levels of expertise your MSP provides, the better off you’ll be. 
Any company can put together a  great website or sales pitch, but what kind of service will you receive? Look for credible testimonials from the MSP's current or past clients – especially those in your industry – to see if they have a reputation for providing great service.

Technology is constantly evolving, so even manufacturers currently working with an MSP can benefit from evaluating whether or not their needs are still being met. Here are a few questions you can ask to determine if your managed IT services provider is still the right fit for your business:

  • Do they provide the latest IT solutions? If you’re falling behind with outdated technology, your MSP could be to blame. The right provider will help you access the latest IT solutions for manufacturing businesses and handle installation, so you can keep your operations running efficiently.
  • Are they easy to work with? Your in-house staff shouldn’t struggle to get the support they need from your MSP. Not knowing who to contact or how long it will take for a response can lead to frustrated workers and customers, so save yourself from headaches by finding an MSP that’s easy to work with.
  • Do they offer proactive support? A good MSP will help you adopt a proactive approach to maintaining your IT environment rather than simply providing reactive break/fix support. 
  • Do they help you plan for the future? Staying on top of your current technology needs can be difficult enough without having to plan for the future as well. The right MSP should have the experience to advise you on which solutions will actually help your business grow now and in the future.

If it sounds like your current MSP isn’t getting your manufacturing business where you need to be, it’s likely time to move on.

andromeda:

Your Partner for Manufacturing IT Solutions

If your infrastructure isn’t secure and reliable, you risk disrupting supply chains, losing customer trust, and much more. Taking a proactive approach to your IT is essential for managing all the moving parts in your manufacturing business effectively.

Andromeda has delivered secure, scalable technology and physical security solutions to businesses like yours for over 28 years. We’re network infrastructure specialists that can help you stay ahead of your IT problems with local, specialized technicians and support – and we don’t stop until the job is done right.

Trust Andromeda for out-of-this-world technology services tailored to meet your unique needs, including: 

We’ve served 2,500+ clients in our nearly three decades of service, including manufacturing companies with specializations that include:

  • Food Products
  • Apparel & Textiles
  • Lumber & Wood Products
  • Furniture
  • Paper & Publishing Products
  • Chemical Products
  • Plastics & Rubber
  • Leather Products
  • Metal Products
  • Industrial Equipment
  • Electronics

Whether your business is located near our offices in the Chicagoland area or you're looking for support on a national level, we can help you with all your manufacturing IT and building security needs.

FAQs

Manufacturing IT refers to the use of information technology systems, software, and hardware to optimize and streamline manufacturing processes, improve product quality, and support decision-making for businesses in the manufacturing industry.
When adopting IT solutions, manufacturers often struggle to integrate with legacy systems, manage data security and privacy, and ensure employees are trained and comfortable using the new systems.
IT for manufacturing businesses is designed to provide real-time visibility into the supply chain, which results in better demand forecasting, inventory management, supplier collaboration, and logistics optimization.
While cutting corners on IT and cyber security may seem cost-effective, it often leaves manufacturing companies stuck in a break/fix cycle with the same technology issues bringing operations to a standstill over and over again.
Managed IT services offer manufacturers expertise in critical technology areas such as network management, cyber security, cloud services, and more. They provide strategic planning and ongoing IT support for manufacturing applications, workflows, and processes.

Sources

  1. https://due.com/understanding-the-financial-cost-of-downtime-in-manufacturing
  2. https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbestechcouncil/2022/02/22/unplanned-downtime-costs-more-than-you-think
  3. https://www.fictiv.com/ebooks/2022-state-of-manufacturing
  4. https://www.statista.com/statistics/1315805/cyber-attacks-top-industries-worldwide