Digital Data Is Key to ‘Smart’ Factories
BLOOMINGTON, IN—To be successful in today’s hyper-competitive global marketplace, manufacturers are constantly finding innovative ways to use technology to increase productivity. But, according to a recent Indiana University study, the creation of policies that govern “smart” manufacturing is just as vital to increased productivity as the creation of new technology.
“Smart Factories: Issues of Information Governance,” a new report from the Manufacturing Policy Initiative at IU’s Paul H. O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs, discusses smart manufacturing’s dependence on information governance—rules concerning the collection, flow and analysis of information, often in digital form.
“Information governance will shape the future of the digital economy,” says Keith Belton, director of the Manufacturing Policy Initiative. “Absent a government role, information governance may not include important public protections, like those for personal privacy, cybersecurity and intellectual property.
“[Our] report shows that collective action is needed to establish the rules for digital information, which represents the life blood for smart manufacturing,” claims Belton.
The initiative recently hosted a roundtable event in Washington asking executives from nearly 20 global manufacturers and policy experts in academia to weigh in on the subject. The roundtable revealed four key findings:
*Technology alone will not create smart factories. “The right information governance policies must also be in place to enable these technologies and reduce unnecessary barriers to market entry,” says Belton.
*Some collective action to establish information governance is being initiated by manufacturers themselves. “For example, the increasing availability of cybersecurity insurance is driving best practices and reducing vulnerabilities throughout supply chains,” notes Belton. “In other policy areas, like digital trade policy, only governmental action will provide the security that drives investment.”
*The United States lags behind nations like China and Germany when it comes to a coordinated approach to information governance.
*Policy makers must consider the distinction between information technology and operational technology, the complexity of 21st century global supply chains and the capabilities of smaller firms.