Manufacturing is big business in the UK. It directly employs 2.7 million people, contributes 11% of GVA and accounts for 45% of total exports. Its uniquely diverse, collaborative and wide-reaching nature means that when disaster strikes, it’s rarely just the manufacturer and end customer who are affected.
Ripples will be felt throughout the entire supply chain – from raw materials providers to distribution – and depending how large or connected a business is, will potentially cause disruptions on a national scale. In the manufacturing world, hardware and software outages are significant problems, and loss of functionality or access is considered “disaster” territory.
Are you a manufacturer? How would your operation hold up if you lost everything – your network, servers, desktops, data, software and applications? For the most part, you’d essentially cease to trade (whilst still paying all overheads) until a solution was found.
Therefore, it’s critically important to include IT disaster recovery (DR) in your business continuity plan. A disaster recovery plan outlines the steps you must take to recover and can be created using the following 5-point guide tailored to manufacturers.
- Establish potential threat sources
Begin by mapping out likely sources of threat. This will may include:
- Weather or natural disaster. These might be more prominent in rural or coastal areas
- Fire or electrical failure caused by faulty plant equipment or machinery
- Crime, such as theft and cyberattacks. Manufacturing sites are concentrated with high value goods, materials and finance, so are attractive targets for criminals
- Technology failures. You’re likely to have multiple sites for the various elements of your operation, all of which must coordinate with technology. A single outage could slam on the brakes
- Human error. Manufacturing sites are complex, so don’t forget how easily mistakes can occur
- Complete a continuity analysis
Manufacturers commonly reside over a swathe of assets – equipment, various sites, and product. So, success depends on a quick revival from disaster, with as much data and functionality restored as possible.
Perform a business impact risk analysis for each site (including priorities) and analyse the equipment and policies reliant on technology, the applications you run, where data is stored and how long you could operate without IT. With this visibility you can understand the true risk to operations, service, supply chain stability, service brand and profitability and the DR solutions required.
With health and safety being so key for manufacturers too, ensure any continuity analysis and subsequent DR solution accounts for how “disaster” is categorised. If colleagues can’t work because of an IT failure, you’re in the same situation as if you’d had production software outage.
- Implement DR technologies
Contemplating backup and recovery solutions can be truly daunting for a manufacturer. There’s so much interconnectivity and consequences for third parties beyond your four walls. However, cloud-based DR and DR as a service have made reliable, resilient DR accessible and affordable regardless of complexity or budget. Cloud-based virtualised servers allow you to backup applications and data at desired intervals. Should a disaster occur, you or your IT partner can access everything required to get up and running again.
This can be done from anywhere, even if your physical sites are inaccessible. Offsite backup in robust, reliable data centres should also be considered. You’ll know that your data replicated and protected physically and digitally – and often for a lower cost than on-premise infrastructure of which will present significant CAPEX spend.
- Test your DR plan
If your DR plan is only that, you’ll never know if it’s fit for purpose. We’ve heard many stories of DR technology becoming obsolete before it’s activated – not that we’d want you to experience a disaster! When your plan, technologies and services are finalised, test thoroughly and do so regularly.
- Assign responsible owners
If something does go wrong, you need to trust that everybody will jump into position. You may want to ensure the following functions are covered:
- Calling in a disaster to all staff, service providers and if relevant, customers
- Organising the logistics of staff relocation
- Assigning workloads remotely
- Leverage outside sources to set DR into action. Working with a specialist means you’ll benefit from the advanced technologies not commonly available to manufacturers, such as DR apps and cloud-based DR
Do you need advice about DR for your manufacturing operation? Contact Sentis Managed Solutions today on 0345 862 2930 for a comprehensive, no obligation security audit and to discuss how we can help with your DR.