Software solutions and services will continue to become increasingly significant in 2019 as digitalization makes further inroads into the engineering sector, while opening the door for new innovations and business practices. So says the Software and Digitalization Association of the VDMA, Germany’s leading mechanical and plant engineering industry advocacy, in the 20th anniversary edition of its annual industry directory, Added Value by Software.
Digitalization touches nearly all aspects of the industrial economy and has created an entirely new vocabulary in the process – terms like smart factories, neural networks, augmented reality, pull-oriented supply chains, machine learning, platform economy and the like have become commonplace. At the core of the digitalization movement and Industrie 4.0 is the availability of massive amounts of relevant information in real time that enable highly flexible, customer-specific manufacturing processes with high resource efficiency and short lead times.
In production facilities, for example, digitalization means that companies interconnect their machines, logistics systems and products. In doing so, they can reduce costs, become more competitive and shorten their lead times. Data collected by a myriad of sensors throughout the production process enable companies to identify and prevent disruptions in production at a very early point while providing valuable information for process optimization. Data analytics is an invaluable source for insights into important questions such as what condition are the machines in, when would be the best time for maintenance, which workflows need further improvement? Digitalization and the data handling that goes with it, however, also places high demands on security technology and leads to far-reaching changes in the company and its processes.
VDMA points out that companies must not lose sight of data security. That everything is interconnected is both a benefit and a threat. The more devices and plants are connected, the more important the topic of security becomes. Vulnerabilities can be readily exploited and hackers may gain access to important production data or upload malware, thus causing production downtimes and machine failure.
To make use of the benefits for production, security aspects must be considered with the planning and operation of production facilities. Especially relevant is the security of data in a company and in the way they handle it.
In the context of Industrie 4.0, IT security is essential for the safe operation of cross-company production processes. It must be possible to design an automated data exchange of inter-connected production systems in a secure, reliable and sustainable manner. Controlling the identification of process actors and protecting the know-how of products, machines and plants is crucial. The earlier that companies integrate knowledge about potential threats, necessary measures and useful sources of information into the product life cycle, the more reproducible and reliable the implementation measures will be. To reap the full advantages of Industrie 4.0, organizations will need to make substantial investment into IT security to protect the excessive amounts of data and IP that will be stored in the cloud and block potential nefarious infiltrators. Following security-by-design principles for systems and processes will be critical as well to ensure that industry can operate safely and reliably.
VDMA offers a wealth of resources and documentation to advise industry on ways to address the emerging challenges brought on by Industrie 4.0 and a digitalized society. The Added Value by Software Directory provides an overview of the various solutions by members of the VDMA Software and Digitalization Association along with company profiles. Other relevant studies and papers are available that address Product Piracy, Product and Know-how Protection, and Industrie 4.0 in Practice. All can be downloaded here.
Global Marketing Director
Daniela is a marketing veteran who has dedicated more than twenty-five years of her career to the service of world-leading IT security vendors. Throughout her journey in this field, she has covered executive positions in international sales, product marketing, and product management and acquired comprehensive knowledge of both digital rights management solutions and authentication technologies. Working from the German headquarters of Wibu-Systems, she is currently leading both corporate and channel marketing activities, innovating penetration strategies, and infusing her multinational team with a holistic mindset.