Kathy Gibson reports – The manufacturing arena is often neglected when it comes to technology investments, but implementing Industry 4.0 solutions could be a key ingredient for business success.

This is the message from Brendan Cuthbertson, head of Commercial, Enterprise and Regional Public Sector Sales at Cisco South Africa, speaking at the Cisco Manufacturing Industry 4.0 webinar today.

He points out that Covid-19 has driven massive changes for businesses at all levels, and that their manufacturing systems can’t be left behind.

As the largest Internet of Things (IoT) vendor in the network environment, Cisco believes that Industry 4.0 requires the connection of people, processes and assets.

This is key for businesses transitioning in the post-pandemic world, he adds, but there are several challenges they have to overcome.

Security is top of mind today, with news coming out almost daily about cyberthreats targeting both business and industrial systems. “Cybersecurity is among the biggest threats facing organisations today,” Cuthbertson says. “Indeed, the need for pervasive security is the foundation of business continuity and resilience.”

Automation is another top priority, with factories under pressure to improve automation and remote access if they want to survive.

“And supply chain challenges affect us all,” Cuthbertson says. “We have all been impacted because of Covid – but, possibly, some of these challenges could have been avoided if the right processes and infrastructures were in place. As it stands, though, we have had to be more reactive and this where we are at the moment.”

Remote working has become a reality in many offices, but it is also becoming more important in the manufacturing space. “Many functions have moved remote, reiterating the need for secure collaboration tools and remote servicing of machines,” Cuthbertson points out.

The pandemic has further accelerated the need for workplace resilience, he adds.

Cisco offers customers a portfolio of security and networking solutions that can help organisations address these challenges and reap the benefits of Industry 4.0, says Cuthbertson.

“What Cisco offers is a global presence and market leadership, with a better than 20% IoT market share. We lead the charge when it comes to solutions in industrial automation, factory security and factory wireless. As the only vendor that brings to market an industrial security offering with one network from campus to edge, we were the first to implement SD-WAN, IP6 and 5G on wireless routers.”

A big advantage that Cisco brings is its validated designs that ease much of the planning and testing associated with building networks in the industrial space.

“Our solutions offer proven enterprise grade functionalities,” Cuthbertson adds. “And we bring to market purpose-built products that are rugged enough to operate in harsh environments, that are manufacturing-certified, and that understand manufacturing protocols.”

The company is serious about its participation in the industrial manufacturing market, he stresses, and has built a market-leading portfolio in the security and IoT space.