“We stand on the brink of a technological revolution that will fundamentally alter the way we live, work, and relate to one another. In its scale, scope, and complexity, the transformation will be unlike anything humankind has experienced before... The First Industrial Revolution used water and steam power to mechanize production. The Second used electric power to create mass production. The Third used electronics and information technology to automate production. Now a Fourth Industrial Revolution is building on the Third, the digital revolution that has been occurring since the middle of the last century. It is characterized by a fusion of technologies that is blurring the lines between the physical, digital, and biological spheres.”
–Klaus Schwab, Founder & Executive Chairman, World Economic Forum-14 January 2016
As the Fourth Industrial Revolution to which Klaus Schwab refers gathers momentum and the lines between physical and digital grow increasingly blurred, the issue of cybersecurity has become a key concern. In the wake of recent global ransomware attacks, there is a growing realization that cybersecurity is everyone’s responsibility, not just an IT issue. Consequently, some companies are scrambling to bolster their cybersecurity defenses, gain operational cyber risk and remediation intelligence, and train operations managers in the art of cyber self-defense.
But the reaction is far from universal. “Cybersecurity is an understandable concern and continued education is needed for end users and OEMs to become comfortable with continuous data exchange and analysis,” notes PMMI in its just completed report, “The Evolution of Automation.” (For complete study, go to pwgo.to/3040). Based on interviews with 60 end users, OEMs, technology suppliers, and “industry experts,” the report suggests that while a majority (58%) of information technology (IT) and operational technology (OT) departments are working together, a substantial minority (42%) of those interviewed say either OT/IT collaboration is not happening, they’re not sure if it’s happening, or if it is happening, the process “needs improvement” (see image at top of this article).
Recent technological advancements are drawing manufacturing operations managers into realms far beyond the traditional packaging and processing technologies, including such things as autonomous robots, 3D printing (additive manufacturing), interconnected sensors, smart phones, and GPS devices that are touchpoints on the Internet of Things. The Fourth Industrial Revolution, or Industry 4.0, finds today’s managers coping with systems that operate in near “dark factory” autonomy. Gone are the days when any clickety-clacking packaging line could be serviced by any one of the team of operators it took to run the machine, so long as the operator had a wrench.
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