Data security concerns could delay Industry 4.0 roll-out

According to industrial supplier, ERIKS UK, data security concerns have the potential to delay the roll-out of Industry 4.0 initiatives and prevent UK industry from accessing OEM and indirect supply chain remote monitoring capabilities.

The concerns have been raised in the wake of continued cyber-attacks and data security breaches, including high-profile breaches for the National Health Service, Facebook and Vodafone.

The manufacturing industry has also been targeted and remains vulnerable. Steve Askins, UK engineering director at ERIKS UK said: “According to IBM’s Cyber Security Intelligence Index, the manufacturing industry is now one of the most frequently hacked sectors and my concern is that data security fears will lead manufacturers to put up barriers which will impact the roll-out of Industry 4.0.”

ERIKS’ research suggests UK industry is already very reluctant to share data. A poll of 250 production and maintenance managers across the UK, identified that 79% of respondents would offer only limited or no disclosure of information with their OEM equipment partner.

Askins added that he knew of one major automotive manufacturer in the automotive sector that refuses to network its site due to concerns over data security and the potential to be hacked.

“My concern is if the pendulum swings too far towards protection and the benefits of greater data sharing are not realised,” says Askins. “There needs to be a balance between protection and data sharing which simultaneously protects industry without putting barriers in the way of delivering greater productivity and improved maintenance practices – to name just two immediate benefits.”

Specifically, he said, there is a concern that the remote monitoring capabilities of OEMs and independent third-party suppliers will not be fully utilised even when the expertise does not exist in-house.

Askins said: “It is the job of manufacturers and the indirect supply chain therefore to not only promote the benefits of greater data sharing, but also to listen to the concerns and fears of our customers, particularly in relation to cyber security and the sharing of information, specifically production data.

“We then need to develop appropriate solutions which could include everything from firewalls to private cloud environments, FOG computing and beyond. We must not allow the current negative environment surrounding the use of data to impact the real benefits that can be accrued from the use of increased data collection and analytics in industry.”