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How Manufacturers Can Prevent a Cyber Security Breach

How Manufacturers Can Prevent a Cyber Security Breach

Cyber security solutions are technological processes and practices designed to protect networks, computers, programs and data from attack, damage or unauthorized access. Over the years, they have become a necessity in order for industrial firms to succeed. Manufacturing supply chains are often interdependent and integrated. Security within the entire supply chain will lessen any vulnerabilities that could impact the company as a whole. Manufacturers must prepare for a cyber security breach by way of proactive measures.

Cyber Security for Manufacturing Global Supply Chain Map

Has a hacker already gained access to your sensitive data?

All companies have private data that ranges from non-secure to highly secure information. This applies if you have one user, a million users, a million customers, or a supply chain with 500 million endpoints. This applies if your data is exclusive to networks outside of the United States or if you are global in reach.

Regardless of the size of the company, all companies include the following data within their protected systems, and this is the type of data that needs the highest level of endpoint security:

  • Social Security Numbers / Information
  • Bank Account Information
  • Personal Emails
  • Payroll Files
  • Account Information
  • Contact Information
  • Financial Records
  • Product Designs
  • Tax Records

Is your supply chain or customer data on the dark web?

If you have suffered a data breach in the past, the data included personal information, such as phone numbers or other personally identifiable information (PII). Leakage of such information could be fatal towards the growth of a company and its workers. Such sensitive information needs to be secured with proper cybersecurity measures. For companies that do not ensure these measures, the chances of survival within the digital world are slim. The only practical solution is developing ways to combat or prevent cyber risks.

Understanding Manufacturing Cyber Security 

In order to stay safe in a world where digitization is key to success, manufacturing companies have to stay prepared. The best way to prepare, understand and manage cybersecurity risks is by considering all areas that could be breached by an attack. By looking at such risks in a business, and from a legal standpoint, owners may aim to formulate regulatory procedures in order to avoid the damage that a cybersecurity attack can impose on their company. In order for a manufacturing company to not only exist but thrive, they must first UNDERSTAND:

Understanding the risk: First, one must understand that hackers aim to steal, exploit and disrupt the company’s work. This may not necessarily be a personal attack and therefore it must not be treated as one.

Narrowing down risks: Manufacturing companies utilize technology for a multitude of sectors within the company. Therefore, narrowing down where the weakest aspects of cybersecurity are would help avoid data loss or operational risk significantly. If an attack is successful, it is also helpful to know where the root of the problem may have begun in order to stop it.

Data access control: Data is one of the most important factors in cybersecurity. The reliance on a single password, as security for data information, leaves manufacturing companies unshielded from hackers. Implementing a series of security measures by ranking importance of data can establish a hierarchy that prioritizes confidential data. Making sure only limited personnel has access to the data will lower the risk as well.

Enterprising the risks: Since cybersecurity risk is such a prevalent aspect in technology, manufacturing companies must include a prevention plan in their enterprise. This includes spending the necessary funds to prevent any harm towards the company’s technology.

Readying for the worst: Another tactic is assuming that every cybersecurity breach will be crippling towards the company. This prepares staff through proactive methodology and technology.

Setting key roles in an incident plan: Defining roles in advance with a detailed plan will enable everyone to know exactly what is required of them in case of an attack. This will help in a time when it is necessary to move quickly. Everyone will remain organized and on task.

Training all employees: Manufacturing companies need to train all employees to know how to avoid human error, which is one of the highest risk factors within cyber attacks. Through training, proper communication can be established between IT (Information Technology) and OT (Operational Technology) workers. The creation of a community culture will enable proper guidance and action on security shortfalls.

Administering the company’s policies wisely: Cyber attacks in manufacturing companies range from light breaches to severe damages that shut down operations. Therefore, ensuring that effective policies are in place is essential. The entire company needs to understand the severity of even a small breach. Policies should be updated as new threats emerge. Staff should be informed of any backup strategies in place and also of planned disaster recovery steps.

Never forget the basics: Manufacturing companies should have a basic response plan in order to outline expected and anticipated actions. Routinely changing user passwords and checking all systems for vulnerabilities should be common occurrences.

Decoys for intelligence gathering: Deploying white collar hackers is another method that could prevent vulnerability to cyber attacks. Companies should place themselves in the mind of the attacker in order to gain more knowledge on how one may think. Therefore the company can counter the attack before a breach is successful. Using decoys allows manufacturers to actively identify and analyze trends in their system that need to be addressed.

The latest technology, including managed application hosting in the cloud, provides new openings for risk and reveals a general lack of effective security in companies of all sizes, across all industries. The manufacturing industry is particularly vulnerable due to complex applications and third-party software integrations. Manufacturers also have challenging compliance regulations that require intensive documentation and reporting. Small business IT solutions help manufacturers looking for partners who will help them grow without the burden of cyber risk.

Cyber security incidents put manufacturing companies at risk of shutdown

Zero-trust cybersecurity policies have become the most essential risk management strategy. The only way manufacturing companies can stay safe is by making sure they are secure on all ends. The first step is understanding the risks, then making the effort to make sure a security breach does not occur. This process utilizes security audits and penetration testing to gain full vision of all system vulnerabilities. In the chance that a data breach does occur, cyber protection and cyber insurance are critical for survival.

Prevent a Cyber Security Breach with Best Practices

 

 

Epicor Supplier Relationship Management 2020 Trends

Epicor Supplier Relationship Management 2020 Trends

In March 2020, before the shutdown, I traveled to a few customers and had an opportunity to talk supply chain with some of their commodity managers. Given the centrality of China-based supply chain sourcing, I wondered if pending restrictions on material movement between countries and potential productivity downturns overseas would affect these clients. At the time, the impact was uncertain—many of these companies had placed forward-buys on key commodities, such that they expected to have a bit of a buffer to ride out the ensuing uncertainty. Strategic supplier relationship management proved to be the ideal way to weather 2020 supply chain challenges.

Epicor Supply Chain Management

How do supply chains keep up with demands?

During the subsequent months, strange things abounded. On the home front, demand patterns changed drastically, trimming back the need for auxiliaries and tertiaries, leaving much of the stockpiled inventory pushed to a corner, waiting for needs to level off and go back to their old ways. In other markets and verticals, demand for certain products and services had gone through the roof, and companies struggled to realign their supply chains to support the fulfillment of surging demand.

 

This resulted in a great deal of wheeling and dealing, including searches for alternate suppliers. Local companies took on the manufacturing of components that had long been outsourced. These activities are ongoing for everyone balancing new supplier relationship management trends.

 

As situations continue to evolve, folks immersed in the supply chain community continue to try and understand just what can be learned from this strange turn of events. One point of interest has to do with the actual dynamics of demand. Strangely enough, it was not the downturn in supply that created the many supply chain challenges, but rather, it was the spiking nature of demand. Product and service demand did not decrease uniformly. Rather, it scraped bottom in certain product categories, markets and verticals, and sky-rocketed in specific niches.

As a supply chain manager, predicting such strange peaks and valleys would be a fool’s errand. Rather, the successes in Epicor SRM that I’ve encountered have had more to do with the ability to rapidly react to challenges than to anticipate them. This ability to react is normally due to a few key capabilities:

  • The ability to develop a broad supplier base. This means locating multiple potential sources of supply, in the event that one source of supply goes dark.
  • The ability to leverage alternate parts and methods to manufacture high-demand finished goods, in the event that primary components become unavailable.
  • A highly capable supplier relationship management toolset that can closely monitor and maintain incoming supply, as to ensure that incoming supply will meet the company’s needs and provide maximum reaction time, in the event that supply will not make it in on time.

SourceDay can assist in this final capability, which is the ability to organize supply in order to ensure that Epicor customers can support the shifting and shifty demand patterns of their own customer base.

Has 2020 changed your supplier relationship management strategy?

See how companies like yours respond to supply chain disruptions.

Watch a webinar to understand 2020 industry trends:

Covid-19’s Impact on Your Supply Chain 

Presented by our partner SourceDay

On September 17th, 2020

Covid-19’s Impact on Your Supply Chain

Epicor ERP Multi-Level Pegging & Supply Chain Management

Epicor ERP Multi-Level Pegging & Supply Chain Management

Blessings and Curses of Supply Chain Inventory

 

Inventory. That word can hold a lot of different meanings for manufacturing companies. Production Personnel see it as the ingredients for making their products. Supply Chain Professionals base much of their career on it. Accountants see it a major corporate cost. Executives see it as both an expense and potential sales.

 

All of these views are correct and each hold merit. Without inventory, parts can’t be built. Without parts to sell, companies can’t grow. As Inventory can represent a significant expense, managing these costs efficiently can increase the bottom line and offer significant competitive advantages.

 

The key to an optimized inventory is only buying what you need, when you need it. While simple in concept, the execution can be very, very difficult. For those manufacturing companies that manufacture products with a deep Bill of Material, managing the what and when of raw materials can become a monumental undertaking.

 

It is that very example that Epicor can provide a powerful tool with their Multi-Level Pegging Process. Going beyond just looking at the material demands of the top-level assembly, the multi-level pegging process will calculate the material needs of all of the indented bill-of-materials on a job. Have a part that takes a manufactured sub-assembly, and that sub-assembly takes another sub-assembly to make it? The Multi-level pegging process will capture all of those materials demands. And Epicor displays all the pertinent information regarding those materials on their built-in Multi-level Pegging Dashboard.

 

Strategic information such as the quantities needed, and material status is provided in an easy-to-read format. Additional details such as is the material currently available, is it on order, or has it been generated are also displayed.

For those companies wishing to optimize their inventory, having the materials at the right quantities at the right time, the Epicor Multi-Level Pegging process provides a powerful tool for manufacturing and material professionals to achieve that lofty goal.

 

This functionality is only part of what the Multi-Level Pegging process can do for your company.

 

Do you have questions about Multi-Level Pegging and Supply Chain Management? Let us know, Contact Us Today.

Epicor ERP is a complex software and at the heart of the application is Part Setup.

Is your Epicor ERP designed with Part Setup Methods and Manufacturing Best Practices in mind?

Find out by downloading the Parts Setup Best Practices PDF today.

Cloud Computing Is Key To Recession Proofing Your Business

Cloud Computing Is Key To Recession Proofing Your Business

Recession-Proof Investments: Cloud Computing and the Refrigerator of the Future

We’ve long been told that necessity is the mother of invention, but when necessity is out of a sense of privation, reactions vary. Born and raised into the world of residential and commercial construction, I’ve felt the motion sickness that results from the ups and downs of the building cycle well into my earliest memories. And I‘ve been in business long enough to have stomached enough down-cycles to observe how different companies react to these changing economic climates.

 

As the current bull market gets slowly walked to the slaughterhouse, managers at all levels begin to wonder what it will mean for their own place within America’s larger business landscape. There is always the search for the investments that could be considered “recession-proof”—investments that will yield value during the current crisis, but would also serve as a foundation for future success. Simple cost-cutting is rarely such an investment—it yields short-term savings, but often at the expense of long-term objectives: I’ve never seen a hiker make it to the top of a peak faster by trimming down the soles of his boots.

 

That is, the most reactionary of companies looks to simple knee-jerk reactions to trim costs in order to get in line with shrinking revenues: eliminating optional programs or reducing essential services to their bare minimum. More innovative companies utilize this newfound necessity as a means of transforming their current state by getting ahead of the competition.

 

At the consumer level, the most well-known example of this phenomenon was the advent of the refrigerator. It was the Great Depression, of all things, that led to the broad use of the refrigerator by America’s large middle class. While it was, at the time, a significant capital expenditure for any given household, the refrigerator allowed families to save time and money: the ability to extend the life of the day’s victuals allows families to reduce waste, and thus cut costs, while also allowing them to expend the physical labor that would have been spent on the next meal on other activities. This rendered the old-fashioned ice box obsolete. In this way, times of downturn often have a way of surfacing new innovations—products that outpace their competitors suddenly emerge because the competitive landscape has reduced the viability of their less-innovative competitors.

 

Similarly, as America hit rock bottom in the late 2000s and early 2010s, cloud computing grew rapidly at the same time, as companies looked for ways to reduce cost and risk, while scaling up for the future. In this way, cloud computing may very well serve to become the coming recession’s refrigerator—the tool that will allow individuals and companies to strategically equip themselves not only for the hard times ahead, but also for the good times thereafter.

 

For Epicor customers, cloud computing surfaces as an opportunity to avoid the costs of replacing outdated hardware. Also, by moving installations into hosted environments, customers are able to eliminate the cooling costs required to keep their stacks on ice. Estes Group’s Epicor Cloud Managed Hosting offering (ECHO) is ready-by-design to protect and carry your company through the down-cycles and get you back into the saddle and riding the next bull market to better times. Looking to recession-proof your business? Please reach out to our team, and we’ll help you innovate a cloud computing strategy that will keep you ahead of the storm.

 

Are you looking for cloud computing options, or have questions on how we can help make your systems more flexible? Contact Us today or let us know below.

Is your Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) System Dying on the Vine?

Is your Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) System Dying on the Vine?

 

Hi, I’m Brad Feakes with the Estes Group. Now, with summer a distant memory and autumn full upon us, the winter still ahead, it’s a fitting time if you’re the leader of a manufacturing company to ask yourself whether your legacy ERP system is dying on the vine.

 

Doesn’t it seem like yesterday when your company first turned on its new ERP system and went live? Everything was blooming with possibilities, and your company was in its earlier season with its ERP system.

 

And then the years slipped away, and now your organization finds itself struggling with its legacy system’s withering limitations. And these limitations become an inhibitor to future growth. The truth is, winter is coming for manufacturing companies living on legacy ERP systems.

 

But you don’t have to hang your head over it, the ERP market is blossoming with different options, such as Epicor’s Version 10, with it’s Microsoft centered stack, and rest service compatibility, it offers the perfect platform for scalable growth.

 

As you assess your organization and its IT infrastructure, you need to ask yourself the question, have you harvested all the benefits of your legacy ERP system? Are you tired of endless patches? Are you frustrated with the narrow field of vision that your current system affords you? Is your legacy ERP system a husk of its former self? And are you ready to put it to pasture? Are you ready to leave your legacy ERP system behind.

 

I’m Brad Feakes with the Estes Group, and I’d love to talk to you, see if could help put some spring back in your business systems.

 

Have a question for Brad or another one of our experts? Let us know.

Can I Run Quickbooks and Compete in Smart Manufacturing?

Can I Run Quickbooks and Compete in Smart Manufacturing?

You’ve heard the term Smart Manufacturing or Industry 4.0; but what does that really mean for your manufacturing company? Can a company be “Smart” and use basic software like Quickbooks or do you need to have a real Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system?  The short answer is: yes, your company needs an ERP system to truly adopt Smart manufacturing and be ahead (or even keep pace) with the competition.

For those still wondering what Smart manufacturing or Industry 4.0 are, don’t worry, the terms are newer and only recently been used in a fairly regular manner. Smart Manufacturing is, simply put, the melding of operations technology (OT) and information technology (IT). Industry 4.0 and Smart Manufacturing are really the newest phase or a new Industrial Revolution if you will hitting manufacturing on a worldwide scale.

In order to remain competitive, manufacturers must invest in inter-connectivity, automation, machine learning, and real-time data analytics.

Holding together various systems needed to properly track and analyze the smart manufacturing data captured, is a strong ERP system, which can marry the shop-floor data with cost breakdowns, operational information, job details, and customer information, etc. I find it interesting how many manufacturers still run homegrown systems or rely on access database, excel, etc to track production, which is clunky, prone to data corruption, and does not collect all relevant data to provide a company with true business analytics.

One of our clients used a homegrown system before deploying Epicor ERP a few years ago. They noticed immediate improvements in inventory control, accurate cost measurements for their products, and better shop floor scheduling. Now, image if the same company deployed machine learning and automation married with real-time data analytic software? The potential to outpace the competition is dramatically increased.

So to get back to the second question, no, Quickbooks or other smaller software systems will not support manufacturers focused on growth since they lack the basic shop floor data collection and analytics needed to streamline your business. Manufacturers that wish to remain competitive, and have an optimized business require an ERP system.

 

Is your company looking to move away from small accounting systems and move to a manufacturing ERP system? Or do you have an ERP system and need to work on optimizing it? We would love to talk with you about how we can work together to make your business run better.