July 2020 Guest Opinion: Empowering the manufacturing evolution – IoT security & digital transformation

By GIXnews
July 9, 2020

By Darryl McCartney, Sr. Director – Americas IoT Technical Sales, Microsoft IoT and Mixed Reality

Since the mid-1990s, Microsoft has been a pioneer in several technological developments that have become foundational to intelligent manufacturing, including partnering to establish a series of standards and specifications for industrial automation and data acquisition.

Today, what we commonly refer to as Industry 4.0 is the path to accelerating intelligent manufacturing and ultimately unlocking new efficiencies, increasing the resilience of operations and the supply chain, and potentially creating new revenue models. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the technology enabling and accelerating Industry 4.0. And the use of industrial IoT (IIoT) will only continue to increase as the IoT Signals report projects that 94% of businesses will be using IoT by the end of 2021.

As the manufacturing industry adopts new technologies to evolve their organization and digital capabilities, opportunities emerge to address common roadblocks: technical complexity, security concerns, and lack of talent and training. This article examines these very topics, including key considerations for building security into IIoT solutions and how manufacturers can securely connect existing installed bases and mission-critical equipment (i.e., brownfield legacy environments).

Evolution of the manufacturing industry

Manufacturing is a traditional capital expenditure (CAPEX) business with potentially long lead cycles and investments that can make introducing new products a challenge. IIoT is a needed technology for manufacturers pursuing the benefits of Industry 4.0 and many believe it will achieve near-universal use in the next two years.

Common IIoT use cases for the manufacturing industry involve automation, quality and compliance, production planning, supply chain visibility, and worker safety and security. And we are seeing organizations’ adoption of digital capabilities that rely on new innovative IoT services significantly shape the future of intelligent manufacturing.

Adopting digital capabilities

As manufacturing organizations embark on a digital transformation journey in today’s environment, there is an increased focus on staying connected and enabling remote operations, addressing worker health and safety, and ensuring a resilient supply chain to meet demand—all while ultimately reducing costs. Many manufacturers are also now offering new, innovative recurring IIoT services offerings, which is changing the way traditional companies approach their product portfolio.

Enabling a future-ready workforce

Another area strongly impacting the way manufacturers operate is the current employee skills-gap challenge. The average age of today’s manufacturing employees is increasing in several core regions of the world, and 47% of current IoT adopters feel their companies don’t have enough skilled workers. Many manufacturers are finding that to build a future-ready workforce consisting of today’s top technology talent, they must embrace a cultural transformation accelerated by technology.

As such, many companies are adopting new digital capabilities that not only support their digital transformation model but also help create and communicate modern workplace experiences. The combination of productivity apps, intelligent cloud services, and security is aiding many manufacturers when it comes to empowering their hiring practices and transforming the way employees work.

“The combination of productivity apps, intelligent cloud services, and security is aiding many manufacturers when it comes to empowering their hiring practices and transforming the way employees work.”

Driving organizational change

IIoT is enabling significant organizational change as manufacturers shift from focusing on product sales to a product-as-a-service (PaaS) model that bundles together physical products, software, and support as well as offers digital services like predictive maintenance. Intelligent manufacturing initiatives are also focused on driving global competitiveness, overall equipment effectiveness, low-cost sourcing, and production volumes.

For a significant portion of 2020, many factories have been operating at

Source:: Internet of Business