The future of Cloud-Based Manufacturing: Moving to a more sustainable, automated, and secure environment

The future of Cloud-Based Manufacturing: Moving to a more sustainable, automated, and secure environment written by Matt Carling ANZ Cyber Security Solutions Architect at Cisco Systems

While we all recognise technology has great potential to improve the way we live and work, the hard part is knowing which tech makes the most sense for your business.

When it comes to manufacturing, technology can be the solution to both age-old and newly emerging challenges. From keeping track of your assets and monitoring your facilities to protecting yourself from cybersecurity threats and managing logistical problems.

The opportunity is to keep your manufacturing business agile, automated, secure and efficient through the adoption of cloud-based solutions.

Let’s take a deeper look at the some of the drivers, components, and considerations of each of these attributes. 

Sustainability

Many organisations including ourselves have announced commitments to a Net Zero future. For companies, the GHG Protocol Corporate Standard categorises emissions as: 

  • Scope 1: Emissions from fuels we purchase and burn within our operations
  • Scope 2: Emissions from electricity we buy for our operations
  • Scope 3: Emissions related to our business that we don’t own or control 

The opportunity to reduce Scope 1 emissions through the adoption of cloud-based services is not limited to manufacturing facilities alone through capabilities such as remote operations, sustainable facility solutions, and environmental monitoring for example to protect perishable stock but also more widely via the adoption of technologies enabling hybrid work – reducing the emissions contributions from employee commuting and allowing optimisation of office space requirements.

Addressing scope 2 emissions drives the adoption of renewal energy sources such as solar and specifying “green” power in supply contracts.

Finally, scope 3 emissions can be reduced by adopting circular economy principles across the entire product lifecycle which includes not only product design, materials, packaging, and energy consumption when in use but also product take back, reuse, and recycling programs.

Today we are seeing regulatory requirements, customer and shareholder preference, and societal expectation to address the environmental impacts of all industries including manufacturing.

Automation for the win

Automation can have a huge impact on your business’s productivity and efficiency. How? Firstly, by freeing up people to focus on human-centric tasks and creating data-driven solutions that optimise your processes. The Australian Government recently held the Jobs + Skills Summit[1]. One of the issues for discussion covered the current skills shortage for many trades and professions. Whilst education, training, and re-training are critical to focus on, ensuring this focus is done for the jobs roles of the future balanced with technology enabled automation is key. 

Secondly, for certain tasks or challenges machines are better suited than people. In the case of large datasets, the volume, velocity and variety of data often makes it a natural fit for automation and machine learning. By gathering information from multiple data sources using cloud-based technology, you can uncover new ways to automate and streamline your manufacturing processes – from sourcing raw materials, to selling finished products and everything in between.

This data can also uncover hidden problems – such as bottlenecks in your production line, or inefficiencies you didn’t realise existed.

And when it comes to tech, automation can slash up to 95% of the time spent on tasks like troubleshooting the network[2], liberating your team of IT professionals to focus on proactive programs.

[1] Jobs and Skills Summit | Treasury.gov.au

[2] Gartner.

Security of the cloud……

Recently, the Australian Government passed several amendments to the Security of Critical Infrastructure Act. A major element of this was the expansion of the number of critical infrastructure sectors to 11 – the “traditional” sectors such as energy and water now expanded to includes sectors such as health, grocery retail, and data storage and processing (cloud).

Whether your organisation is deemed a critical asset owner or not, it is possible you are part of the supply chain for an organisation which is. Or your organisation may be involved in one of the identified critical technologies in the national interest[1] within the Advanced Materials and Manufacturing category currently open for consultation through the Department of Industry, Science and Resources. For either of these reasons or just more generally due to the current cyber threat environment, security – cyber, physical, and personnel is a major focus for most organisations.
When you incorporate Meraki and Cisco cloud services into your organisations you need to be assured of the security posture not only of the service itself, but also the security of the processes and people that build or develop the service and the security of the processes and people who operate the service. For Cisco, this is the wholistic approach of our Value Chain Security[2] and our commitment to trustworthy, transparency, and accountability you can read more on at https://trust.cisco.com

….and security from the cloud

The current threat environment is challenging – of concern for many is the ongoing threat of ransomware.  The Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC) Annual Cyber Threat Report 2021[3], lists manufacturing as the 3rd top sector in Australia for ransomware incidents. In all sectors, organisations will vary in the cyber security maturity and security posture. For those starting out, we suggest 3 areas of focus:

  • Visibility – know your assets; know your dependencies; know your vulnerabilities
  • Protection and mitigation – pervasive controls and a layered defence approach; defend the critical asset that cannot defence itself
  • Operational Efficiency – reporting; leveraging the network; integrated security; orchestration and automation
 

Practical examples

Come and chat with us at Stand K38 (opposite the Expert Arena) at the Modern Manufacturing Expo where discover more on real examples deployed by organisations that help deliver sustainability, automation, and security.   

Smart Spaces  

By using Cloud native and AI technology to intelligently manage spaces, Cisco Meraki and our technology partner ecosystem can help customers create and maintain smart, healthy, and sustainable spaces that can help improve business productivity and performance. When cloud-first solutions enable building controls to be automated, efficiency may go up, while energy use and operating costs may go down, due to better management of functions like heating, cooling, and lighting.

Our intuitive IoT solutions can automatically adjust workspace conditions, for example by switching off WiFi and other Power over Ethernet devices outside of business hours, or by preventing water leaks and goods spoilage with temperature and humidity sensors. Cloud technology makes it easier to gather data across different devices, platforms and geographically dispersed areas to conduct cross domain analysis. The more an organisation can access insights from their own data, the more overall value they can derive to manage costs, maximise resources, and improve customer and employee experiences.

Embracing Hybrid Work 

Our new way of working has created an opportunity for organisations and their employees to reduce the carbon footprint of day-to-day business. Consolidating office space and equipment, lowering energy and water usage, and reducing the number of vehicles on the road through less commuting time can all help the environment. But making that work seamless for organisations struggling with dated technology and talent shortages isn’t easy. The Meraki Cloud Platform enables zero touch deployment that works in concert with smart cameras and IoT sensors to provide a unified experience that extends the capabilities of IT, security, facilities, and operations teams. 

Building a sustainable future for all 

As more organisations voluntarily make climate action pledges and move toward sustainable practices, they can look to Cloud managed technology to help them meet their goals. Whether the motivation is out of concern for the climate or a company’s bottom line, there is an opportunity for Cloud technology to help lead the way with a unified experience. When everything is connected and you have end-to-end visibility across devices and domains, your IT, facilities, physical security and operations departments can all leverage efficiencies and take small actions that can make a positive impact on the environment.

[3] Consultation hub | List of critical technologies in the national interest: 2022 update – Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources

[4] Value Chain Security – Cisco

[5] https://www.cyber.gov.au/sites/default/files/2021-09/ACSC%20Annual%20Cyber%20Threat%20Report%20-%202020-2021.pdf

CISCO will be exhibiting at the Modern Manufacturing Expo on 20-21 September 2022.

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