Disaster Recovery Planning for Your Manufacturing Business

 In Disaster Recovery, Manufacturing

Manufacturing companies rely on their information technology (IT) infrastructure to perform multiple critical roles. The automated systems that are widely used in manufacturing are monitored and managed by computerized systems and processes. These infrastructure components are arguably the most important elements of a manufacturing company’s computing environment.

A company’s IT department needs to maintain the availability of these systems in addition to supporting typical business activities like accounting and customer relationships. This can complicate disaster recovery (DR) planning and testing for businesses in the manufacturing industry. In many cases, DR planning is vital both for the impacted company and society at large.

Why Disaster Recovery Planning is Essential for Manufacturing Companies

The failure to recover systems after an unexpected outage can cripple a business. Outages affecting the manufacturing sector can have repercussions that are felt throughout society. Recent bottlenecks in the global supply chain highlight the importance of the manufacturing industry to the world of global commerce.

Manufacturing companies need to have a disaster recovery plan in place for multiple reasons.

Cybercrime

Cybercrime is on the rise across all businesses. Manufacturing companies have become enticing targets for cybercriminals and ransomware gangs. An attack on manufacturers can have devastating effects on commerce and public safety. Organized and state-sponsored actors are taking aim at manufacturers and attempting to disrupt the global supply chain.

Ransomware gangs often select their targets based on the likelihood that the ransom demands will be met. Companies in the manufacturing sector may have compelling reasons to quickly settle with cyber criminals. Depending on the product they manufacture, the effects of extended outages can be felt by large segments of the population. Consider the devastating impact of a successful ransomware attack on a company that manufactures essential medications or vaccines. Without a reliable DR plan, companies would have to pay the criminals to regain the use of their systems.

Natural disasters

Natural disasters such as hurricanes, earthquakes, and floods can take out a manufacturer’s IT environment and cause an extended outage. The effects of climate change seem to be exacerbating these risks, making it imperative that manufacturers have a DR plan in place and it is ready to go if needed.

Civil unrest

The effects of civil unrest or armed conflict can disrupt a manufacturer’s IT environment and require them to execute their DR plan. Attacks on the power grid may not directly target a manufacturer but still cause a disruption that leads to a disaster declaration.

A good DR plan should be able to deal with any type of unexpected outage or loss of service. Despite a company’s best efforts at implementing effective cybersecurity measures, there is always a risk of a successful cyber attack. Manufacturers need to have a viable and well-tested DR plan ready to go in the event of a true disaster.

Factors to Consider in Manufacturing Disaster Recovery Planning

Several factors demand additional focus when developing a disaster recovery plan for a manufacturing company. Depending on the item or items being manufactured,  companies may have more pressure to quickly recover than other types of businesses.

Prioritizing systems to be recovered

A manufacturing company needs to quickly recover its capacity to manufacture and deliver its products. This fact greatly influences the construction of a DR plan and the order in which systems need to be restored. The focus needs to be on recovering the systems that control automated assembly lines and production facilities.

Incorrectly prioritizing systems can result in an unnecessarily extended outage. The efficient use of technical resources is essential during disaster recovery. Time spent identifying the correct order in which to recover systems will be repaid with a smoother recovery.

Recovery Time Objective (RTO)

The recovery time objective is the amount of time within which a company expects to recover a system or infrastructure component. When defining an RTO, several factors need to be taken into account. These include where the recovery will take place, the availability of backup media, who will be involved in the recovery, and if the personnel are required to be onsite or can perform their duties remotely.

Cloud-based disaster recovery can result in substantially shorter RTOs than traditional DR tactics. Companies can recover IT systems to alternate geographies if necessary and do not have to wait for backup media to be returned from offsite storage before beginning the recovery. These benefits have led to public cloud vendors developing disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS) offerings for their customers.

Recovery Point Objective (RPO)

The recovery point objective is the time interval that can be tolerated during an outage while addressing a company’s business continuity plan. The RPO is influenced by the frequency with which the backups necessary for recovery are taken. If a company can withstand losing a day’s worth of data, then a daily backup policy is sufficient to address the RPO.

Critical systems used in manufacturing may need to be recovered using a shorter RPO. Issues related to RPO need to be identified during DR planning and addressed by multiple parts of the IT environment. Reducing an RPO may require the modification of backup procedures to provide more recent data for recovery.

RTO and RPO are closely associated when developing a DR plan. Businesses may strive to recover mission-critical systems with an RTO of 24 hours and an RPO of 12 hours. In this case, systems would be back up in a day and the company might lose up to 12 hours of data.

Engaging an Experienced Partner for Disaster Recovery Planning

Prescient Solutions has extensive experience providing IT services for companies in the manufacturing sector. This includes assisting in the planning and managing of disaster recovery processes to get a manufacturer up and running as quickly as possible. They can help an organization implement data protection and security measures that reduce the chance of a business-impacting disaster.

Prescient offers a range of services from consulting to complete IT outsourcing that addresses the unique needs of manufacturers. They understand the additional concerns of manufacturers and work with your company to maximize the value of your IT environment and ensure its recovery in the event of a disaster.

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