Today, companies need every competitive advantage they can find. This is especially the case in manufacturing, where moving parts must come together to match supply with demand.
One way manufacturers can position themselves for competitiveness and success is through a managed service provider (MSP) for information technology (IT) systems. Manufacturers must remain focused on their core competencies if they want to make it in a crowded marketplace — and MSPs can help them do precisely that.
Manufacturers partnered with a MSP can generally expect higher productivity, greater efficiency, and more predictable expenses, thanks to their renewed focus on their business niche rather than IT projects.
This business model presents lots of advantages for the manufacturing industry. Some advantages include:
1. Reduced And More Predictable Costs
The costs to build and maintain business applications and IT infrastructure vary depending on the company and the vertical, but they can be substantial. For smaller companies and startups, technology always has been an especially prohibitive barrier to entry.
However, it’s possible to trace a great deal of this cost back to the labor, training, and downtime required to adopt new technologies or expand infrastructure without outside help.
On the other hand, managed service providers already know the product, how to install it and how to maintain it well after launch day. For lots of providers, this helps whittle the cost of IT projects and business functions down to the essentials: technology and talent.
2. Access To The Latest Technology
MSPs not only help lower costs, but they also introduce an element of future-proofing into the client organization, as much as anything can be “future-proof” these days.
When manufacturers use their in-house talent and resources for IT projects, they might get feature updates and support for several versions of that hardware. And their staff can probably keep pace with the changes well enough for a while.
But eventually, the technology will evolve, and the company will need to change with it. Things essentially start from square one as the manufacturer updates their hardware and software to remain competitive.
MSPs can ease the transition between technology leaps and help manufacturers maintain access to the latest features when they become available. Instead of making a new set of IT investments every few years, and watching their software become less useful and relevant, manufacturers maintain their contract to receive updates and new features more regularly.
3. Robust Cybersecurity And Risk Management
Most businesses rely on digital platforms to one extent or another. These present a lot of opportunities, but they also create vulnerabilities.
Cloud computing services, communication technologies, smart factories, and IIoT devices and many other innovations expose manufacturers to data loss and potential IP theft if they fail to implement and maintain them. Manufacturers today store some extremely high-value data, making them one of the most frequently targeted industries among cybercriminals.
For managed service providers, dealing with technology’s vulnerabilities comes with the territory. It’s not an afterthought — it’s central to their mission and purpose if they take themselves seriously.
4. Higher Productivity And Lower Downtime
Nobody needs reminding that downtime can cause substantial problems in manufacturing. In glass manufacturing, downtime might cost $15,000 per hour. On an oil rig, the cost of going dark for one hour could be around half a million dollars. Copper mining? Up to $1.5 million per day in the worst cases.
Attentive, 24/7 support is another feature of most managed service providers. Manufacturing technology today poses a bit of a “harder they fall” proposition. Smart manufacturing technologies and IT and IIoT systems provide significant value, but as they grow more complex and add more value to the enterprise, the cost of losing productive time rises.
Manufacturers with MSPs maintain higher productivity because they have a knowledge resource on hand that can save them countless hours of fruitless troubleshooting. Most MSPs provide some sort of uptime guarantee in their service-level agreement, which is something you can’t get from a system built and maintained by in-house personnel.
5. Compliance With Emerging Regulations And Quality Standards
Every technologically advanced industry and company finds itself held to higher regulatory standards every year. Manufacturing is no different.
It will only become more vital as digital manufacturing evolves, as manufacturers do more business directly with the public instead of with middlemen and as the industry achieves mass customization capabilities. Medical device manufacturers, food and beverage companies and aerospace and automotive companies are just a few of the verticals held to stringent quality and cybersecurity standards.
MSPs can introduce automation into compliance, thanks to new ways to measure and maintain product quality, capture and audit enterprise data and store and transmit customer data securely.
How MSPs Position Themselves As Value-Adding Partners
Handing over business functions to an MSP involves trading a la carte IT expenses for a more convenient monthly or yearly “subscription” model.
New and established manufacturing companies alike have a lot to gain from the MSP business model. For seasoned manufacturers, one of the benefits involves reconciling legacy equipment with newer, more advanced additions to the factory floor — a common pain point today for manufacturers.
For newer manufacturers, the appeal lies in substantially streamlining the work and lowering the costs associated with getting a technologically advanced factory or distribution center off the ground. And it frees up capital from what would have been a full IT department that they can spend elsewhere, like on hiring talent associated with the company’s niche rather than with supporting functions.
Another key benefit of the MSP business model involves avoiding problems rather than reacting to them after the fact. From the client’s perspective, this acts as a sort of insurance policy.
IT has become the backbone of modern business, whether it includes enterprise resource planning, cloud storage and computing, network architecture, communication platforms, Big Data analytics, the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) or something else.
Contact us today at email@example.com to learn how we can help your business.