Reuters reported in April 2022 that the manufacturing industry has faced its slowest month in a year and a half. Amid the pandemic, many industries have had to deal with mass resignations and a labor shortage that has put many advancements back. To combat these challenges and move the industry to the modern digital transformation age we're in now, managers will need to implement new training methods to ensure workplace safety.
The pandemic accelerated the manufacturing industry to innovate and problem-solve around social distancing and distribution center shutdowns. The use of automation and robots took off and has created efficiencies and reduced some hazards in the workplace. However, there may be complications when those robotics are handling hazardous materials and conflict with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA) standard for the Control of Hazardous Energy lockout/tagout (LOTO).
The standard aims to protect workers from coming in contact with hazardous material through meticulous practices and procedures. While there are training programs installed to help employees prepare to handle such materials, accidents could happen that are out of their control when it comes to operating or managing the newest robotics technology.
Within these procedures, for example, employees are prohibited "against attempting to restart or reenergize machines or other equipment that are locked or tagged out."
Moving manufacturing over to automation and e-commerce opens up the industry to vulnerabilities they were otherwise immune to before with manual workloads. Cyberattacks and ransomware are now threats to organizations collecting data. Identity Theft Resource Center's (ITRC) 2022 report notes that manufacturing and utilities are part of the top three industries vulnerable to attacks. The reason for this is that the industry invested in technology but not the solutions that protected their investments.
The industrial industry is not alone in this vulnerability, though. Many businesses needed to migrate to a remote workspace without much warning between 2020 and 2021. That meant networks that were once protected by on-premise data center technology are now subject to household Wi-Fi and home computers. ITRC found that 92% of data breaches in the first three months of 2022 came from two types of cyberattacks: phishing and ransomware. Phishing is often a result of opening clickbait emails that have malware embedded in them whereas ransomware occurs when a hacker holds important information until a sum of money is paid.
Along with training on how to properly handle new robotics technology, hiring IT specialists who can monitor, update and prevent further attacks will help in protecting the company's and its customer's information.
Cyberattacks are not a matter of if but when. The best way to prepare for a breach is to practice and create protocols around incident response and where to back up information safely for disaster recovery.