Data Management Questions all Manufacturers Should ask Themselves

Consider these 12 questions to better understand your data management strengths and weaknesses.

Automation Data Management Questions for ManufacturersToday’s manufacturing companies are operating with a constant pressure to grow revenue, reduce costs, mitigate risk, increase flexibility, and reduce downtime. While there are a variety of areas to focus on that can drive results, data management is a great place for most manufacturers to start.

Traditionally, manufacturers have used manual data management methods, relying heavily on manual backups, naming conventions, and documentation. Unfortunately, many manufacturers don’t fully understand the risk they are taking by using these outdated data management methods until a disastrous incident like a cyber attack, natural disaster, human error, or equipment failure causes significant downtime. Is your production plant one of them?

In this article, we’ll present 12 questions that all manufacturers should ask themselves about their automation data management practices before it’s too late. For many manufacturers, a version control and automatic backup software like versiondog can help strengthen their answers, so we’ll also explain how it can help for anyone interested in using this exercise to better their data management practices.

12 Data Management Questions all Manufacturers Should ask Themselves

1. Can you quickly locate program data for any device in your facility?

How easy is it for you and your team to find the data you need? versiondog centrally stores project data with a complete version history so that you can quickly and confidently find what you need when you need it most.

2. Is your team storing program data where they are supposed to?

If you are relying on manual data storage, you are taking an unnecessary risk. Even the most diligent employees can forget to save a file properly in stressful situations. versiondog takes the guesswork out of data storage with centralized data management and complete version control all in one place.

3. How often are your automated devices backed up?

Manual backups are prone to human error. A device can easily be overlooked or forgotten. If shifts have been busy or stressful, manual backup routines might be postponed more often than you’d like. Are you absolutely sure that devices are being backed up as regularly as they should be? versiondog automatically backs up a wide variety of device and data types so that these data management questions are a thing of the past.

4. How long does it take you or your team to backup your automated devices?

Even if you’re confident in how regularly your team performs backups, is the manual backup process taking up valuable time? Even for an experienced team, manual backups can be time-consuming and tedious. versiondog saves time and effort with automatic backups, so that your team can focus on more skilled work.

5. Can you see who made a change to any device running in your facility?

Change management is an important but often overlooked tool in automation data management. With versiondog, you can automatically track who changed what, when, where, and why for a complete version history of any device in your plant. Administrators can also manage user access – by individual, group, plant area, device type, and individual device – to improve data security by ensuring that only the users that need access have it.

6. Can you quickly identify what changes were made between one version and another?

Manual versioning sacrifices valuable time and effort to a data management task that versiondog can do much faster. If you are still manually versioning your projects, you’re heavily relying on your team’s commitment to document their work thoroughly. versiondog documents changes for you and allows you to compare versions graphically. Cumbersome spreadsheets are a thing of the past.

7. How often do you know about changes that were made on a different shift?

Miscommunication and a lack of visibility can slowly deteriorate productivity in any plant. Are changes being communicated properly? Do the right people have visibility into the right things? versiondog improves visibility and change management between shifts, departments, and even between internal and external programmers by tracking a complete version history for any device in your plant.

8. If a hacker were to maliciously change the source code on a PLC, how long would it take for you to notice?

With more connectivity than ever, manufacturers need to consider cyber attacks as a real and present threat. PLCs, for example, are considered an easy and effective target for hackers because a small code change can cause large-scale disruption. Are you rolling the dice, hoping you’d catch a malicious change in real time? versiondog monitors both authorized and unauthorized changes by comparing the version running on a device with the latest version stored on the server. If versiondog detects a difference, it notifies the appropriate users who can take action to identify if the difference was caused by a malicious cyber attack or not.

9. On average, how long does it take for you and your team to restore production after equipment failure, human error, natural disaster, or cyber attack?

Of course, one of the highest priorities for manufacturers is maximizing production uptime. How quickly can you and your team restore production in the case of unplanned downtime? How long does it take to find the data you need? Can you test and troubleshoot the data quickly to see if it is outdated? What if you need to rewrite device data completely in the event of data loss? versiondog helps you avoid these time-consuming and stressful scenarios with centralized data management and automatic backups.

10. How much does one hour of downtime cost your company?

Do you know the true cost of downtime in your production plant? For the average manufacturer, downtime can cost roughly $260,000 per hour. versiondog reduces the duration of downtime by ensuring that you can quickly locate a recent, error-free version to restore.

11. How confident are you that everyone on your team is properly documenting changes?

Change is an inevitable reality of the production process whether it be to optimize output, improve processes, or fix a quality issue. These changes often need to be made urgently, opening the door for proper documentation to be pushed to the wayside. versiondog automatically documents who changed what, when, where, and why so that your change documentation is always complete and consistent.

12. Could you easily prepare for an audit?

Audit trails and change logs are the foundation of many audit processes in manufacturing. Even so, many manufacturers rely on time-consuming methods to prepare audit trails, document changes to their production processes, and compare project versions. With versiondog, you can generate comprehensive audit trails at the click of a button.

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