Running industrial plants in a post-COVID world

Digital transformation -

By Nexus Integra  /

7 May, 2020

In a scenario where most people are working from home, the remote access and management of devices and systems is crucial. But beware of the security risks.

2020 will be remembered as the year where a microscopic organism known as COVID-19 put the whole world against the wall. An extremely contagious virus is forcing governments across the globe to take exceptional measures such as closing shops and other businesses, or forbidding their own citizens to move freely outside.

Most people in the countries where these measures are being applied are aware of the importance of them staying home as a means to avoid the huge escalation of cases and the collapse of the Health System. Hashtags such as #FlattenTheCurve or #StayAtHome, are reminders on Twitter of our role as citizens to stop the spread of the virus.

The economical consequences of this crisis is difficult to foresee, but it seems there is a consensus that this will hugely impact the commercial activity worldwide. Most companies in the (so far) affected areas are closing their offices and sending their workers home. This is challenging companies’ ability to keep business as usual when all their workforce is working from home.

As a consequence, there is a ‘boom’ in the use of remote tools to communicate and collaborate among colleagues and companies, such as Zoom, Teams, Slack…, specially in the services sectors. In fact the increase is so big that some of these tools are struggling to offer their usual service. But, what happens with the industrial companies? How are they facing this crisis? Are they being able to keep their normal activities? Are they, at least, being able to monitor and control part of their activity remotely?

Remote is becoming the new normal

In a situation such as the one we are currently facing with the risk of a virus spreading and collapsing our healthcare systems, companies should be able to send their workers home. However, the lack of tools in the industrial sector so that workers can remotely access, monitor, and maintain their assets and infrastructure is preventing many companies from proceeding in that sense.

Of course companies producing physical products (cars, hardware pieces, appliances…) will suffer a bigger impact as there is part of the job that needs manual intervention that can’t be done remotely. But even in those companies there are many tasks and activities that actually should not require physical access to the factory. Why not reduce the human presence as much as possible so that the really necessary people in those factories can effectively do their job in a safer environment? When digitizing processes and equipment by using industrial IoT solutions, companies  monitor and operate their plants and factories not only remotely but also much more efficiently.

However, a situation where most people are working from home and where offices and factories are accessible via the Internet us the perfect setup for a cybercriminal. The main risks of the remote work is the exposure companies have to cyberattacks. What’s more, in a scenario where that situation is global, citizens are much more dependent on the basic services supply, and cybercriminals know that. An attack on power plants on a situation like the current one is simply fatal.

This is why security must be seriously taken into account. In addition to all sorts of traditional security measures, the exposure of data, devices and systems to the Internet must be carefully done, especially in the industrial sector. You are as secure as your weakest link in the chain, and that link is typically what is closest to the physical world: the devices. Companies digitizing processes and data must use secure solutions to protect themselves and their employees.

Nexus Integra + Barbara, the Secure Industrial IoT combo

It’s in situations like the one we’re currently living where solutions such as what the combination of Nexus Integra + Barbara makes more sense.

Together, Nexus Integra and Barbara offers a unique platform that boosts the efficiency and organization of industrial businesses, with intuitive and simple operation. Barbara securely connects company’s industrial equipment, protecting the data and the devices from cybersecurity threats and Nexus Integra offers an integrated operational platform to manage production processes, adding all the data generated by the company,from those industrial devices to any database.

Are you looking to benefit from all the Industrial IoT applications? Get in touch with us and we will explain how we can help you.

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Article written by Juan Pérez-Bedmar, Sales and Marketing Director at Barbara IoT.

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