How manufacturers are tackling Industry 4.0 with SASE

August 10, 2023 Stefan Nava 4 min

Digital transformation and market demands are driving the adoption of Industry 4.0 in manufacturing. These businesses need a way to power digital innovations that allow them to do their jobs effectively, from anywhere and any device.

The manufacturing industry is undergoing a significant transformation with the advent of Industry 4.0. According to McKinsey & Company, Industry 4.0 is the Fourth Industrial Revolution and “the next phase in the digitization of the manufacturing sector, driven by disruptive trends including the rise of data and connectivity, analytics, human-machine interaction, and improvements in robotics.”

Innovations like artificial intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT) and robotic process automation (RPA) are reshaping the supply chain, logistics and production lines of manufacturers, leading to the emergence of smart factories. Despite these advancements, the industry faces obstacles that could impede the full realization of Industry 4.0’s potential.

Challenges ahead

While opportunity is great with this next revolution, there are many challenges that manufacturers must face in this new era. These include:

  1. Cybersecurity threats: The manufacturing sector is particularly vulnerable to cyberattacks due to legacy security software that is ill-equipped to defend against modern threats. Outdated architectures hinder the application of timely software updates, making them susceptible to security breaches. Inadequate visibility and control over traffic flows also make things like swift threat response and remediation difficult to achieve.
  2. Flexibility, scalability and reliability: Manufacturers require adaptable and reliable architectures that can scale cost-effectively as the business grows. Traditional Multi-Protocol Label Switching (MPLS) falls short in supporting the manufacturing industry’s cloud evolution. Furthermore, if your business is looking to expand globally, be prepared for complexities and costs associated with deploying legacy connectivity solutions.
  3. Cloud performance: Older technology fails to provide direct connectivity to third-party Software as a Service (SaaS) applications, which are crucial for modern manufacturing operations. SaaS applications demand high-performance internet access, something that MPLS cannot deliver.
  4. Complex tool management: Managing multiple connections, telecom vendors and tools results in a cumbersome and error-prone process, especially when integrating technology from acquisitions.

Addressing these challenges with SASE

It might be hard to believe that one solution that can answer all of these challenges is real, but alas—it exists! The answer to these digital transformation challenges lies in adopting SASE (Secure Access Service Edge), a modern IT framework that combines networking and security technologies into a single, cloud-native service. SASE empowers manufacturers to address the aforementioned obstacles encountered during their digital transformation journey.

SASE offers an integrated software stack, enabling enhanced security, consistent policy enforcement and faster threat response times. Embracing this network security solution brings the following key benefits:

  1. A single, connected network architecture that facilitates reliable and consistent connections for authorized users, locations, clouds and applications. SASE improves the connectivity of manufacturing facilities and offices spread across different geographic locations. By utilizing SD-WAN capabilities, manufacturers optimize network traffic, reduce latency, and enhance communication between various production sites and headquarters.
  2. High network performance that allows IT teams to seamlessly scale, optimize and enhance the manufacturer’s network instantly, ensuring reliable and more predictable application performance.
  3. Optimized cloud architecture from improved SASE network traffic with WAN optimization and dynamic routing policies, resulting in low latency cloud access for all users. Furthermore, a majority of manufacturing companies are adopting cloud-based solutions to enhance their operations and collaboration. SASE facilitates secure access to cloud applications and services for both employees and partners, promoting a more agile and efficient working environment.
  4. Baked-in security by integrating all essential security capabilities, including Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA), firewall-as-a-service (FWaaS), cloud-access security broker (CASB), DLP, secure web gateway (SWG) and more. Manufacturing companies deal with sensitive intellectual property, designs and proprietary data. SASE’s integrated security services ensure that data transmission between different locations is encrypted and protected, reducing the risk of cyberattacks and unauthorized access.
  5. Consistent access for mobile users and suppliers. Manufacturers need to keep mobile users and capabilities at the top of their minds as they build out their business operations strategy. SASE ensures all authorized users receive consistent access, performance and security—regardless of their location.
  6. Seamless remote work and IoT integration. With SASE, manufacturing companies can better support remote work initiatives for employees and contractors. Additionally, as the industry moves towards more IoT integration, SASE’s ability to secure and optimize connections between devices and data centers becomes increasingly valuable.
  7. Deeper data insights and analytics. SASE can assist in securely transmitting data generated by IoT devices on the manufacturing floor. This data can then be analyzed to improve production processes, predict maintenance needs and optimize overall efficiency.

Prepared for anything with SASE

What is the most important result manufacturers should expect when they adopt SASE? That they can allocate their time and resources, previously spent managing complex, inefficient IT environments, to strategic business initiatives, such as global expansion and optimizing factory operations, without worrying about IT and security concerns. SASE empowers these organizations to focus on core competencies while being confident that their network and security needs are comprehensively covered. This confidence can be assured and fully managed when tapping into SASE under a managed services provider like Windstream Enterprise.

To learn more about SASE and its implementation in manufacturing, listen to this podcast episode: “How to implement SASE in manufacturing.”

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Key Takeaway
We’re in the middle of a significant transformation regarding the way we produce and consume, thanks to the digitization of manufacturing processes. SASE is a transformative network security framework designed to help manufacturers address Industry 4.0 head on.

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