Blog Post: BDR, Backup and Disaster Recovery, Manufacturing

BDR For Manufacturers

August 23, 2017

There’s no questions that data protection and recovery is critical for every industry, but some industries have specific dynamics that require them to follow some additional best practices. One of those industries: manufacturing. When disaster shuts down a plant, production comes to a halt – costing the organization revenue in a way that can’t always be made up later. Employees are paid for standing around, orders don’t hit delivery dates, customers become frustrated and the brand looks unreliable.

Anyone who’s visited a factory floor knows that leaders need to keep their equipment and processes going no matter what. Yet maintaining productivity is more complex than ever for today’s manufacturers, who often use sophisticated software in tandem with their machines. Whether an equipment failure, staff injury or security incident, some kind of downtime will happen to almost every manufacturer – making a reliable BDR solution a must.

Here are a few ways that can prepare your manufacturing IT team for a fast recovery when the unexpected happens.

Make sure the leadership understands the value of BDR. When the C suite is focused on hitting production numbers, they may not think server backups sound all that valuable. More likely they’re concerned with keeping operations profitable in terms of time, staff and output. To sell them on the need for better BDR, you’ll need to connect uptime to revenue.

Calculate your downtime costs. A halt to production can be expensive. To anticipate problems, identify the failure points that would stop production in the event of downtime. Which of your plants experience the most downtime? What have been the costs of past outages? Understanding how past downtime has delayed orders and deliveries can help you identify the top risks and the measures needed for swift recovery.

Map out the factory or plant ecosystem. A typical manufacturing environment today tends to be an interconnected web of equipment and software. Complicating that further, it’s likely some of your infrastructure will be local and some supported by remote corporate IT systems. Take a look at your critical data, software, and programs, as well as local infrastructure like switches, routers and servers. Figure out how they all work together, and what kind of failure could set off a chain reaction that leads to a plant or organizational shutdown.

Define and train leaders and team members responsible for recovery. Once you know how various equipment components and software systems interact on a local and enterprise level, you’ll need to identify who’s responsible for getting IT systems and equipment back online. If plant managers rarely interact with IT managers, you’ll want to make sure they understand the priorities and processes at both levels in the event of a disaster. This should include a way of communicating between offices and factory floors even when the Internet is down or email or mobile devices are impacted.

Include accidents in your disaster recovery plan. While employees can get hurt on the job in any type of company, it may be more likely around certain types of equipment. Make sure your disaster recovery plan includes the right medical response when a worker becomes injured on the line. Think also about how an accident or injury could take a piece of equipment offline, and how you might compensate for it being out of service.

Plan for a contingency location. Other organizations may send their staff home to work remotely if systems go down or a site becomes unusable. But if your entire manufacturing facility becomes inoperable, that won’t be an option. If possible, plan for an alternate location or way you can resume production.

Protect critical paper files now. If your organization is one of those manufacturers with old filing cabinets of important documents, make a plan for preserving that data now in case of fire or flood. Digitize those paper files and store them offsite.

Embrace the cloud. If your manufacturing IT team is still relying on a tape drive system, your future recovery is already sabotaged. As we already noted, time is money on the floor - and tape won’t offer a fast or guaranteed recovery. Transition to a BDR system that keeps your data safe in the cloud and lets you recover in just minutes with only a click. You could end up saving the day when disaster hits - and saving a fortune by averting lost production revenue.

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