As the manufacturing industry adopts more and more digital technology, it’s becoming crucial for warehouses to build disaster recovery plans.
Disaster recovery plans are a set of protocols in the event of an IT emergency. This could include anything from a major data breach to weather-related incidents causing internet outages.
In today’s digitized world, prolonged online downtime can be a manufacturing company’s nightmare, especially as manufacturing has become the most targeted industry for cyber-attacks. And recent studies show that unplanned downtime costs manufacturers as much as $50 billion a year.
To avoid these devastating effects, it’s important as a business owner that you prioritize disaster recovery. In this blog post, we’ll walk through the necessary steps to create a foolproof plan for disaster recovery, so you’re prepared for the unthinkable.
Prioritize Your Business Processes
Not every business process in your company carries equal weight, so they should not be treated as such. In preparing your recovery plans, prioritization should be the first step you take to determine the best course of action.
To help categorize your business processes by importance, follow these steps:
Interview Key Teams
Don’t make assumptions. Prioritizing your warehouse processes should involve a coordinated approach among team leaders. With them, you can thoroughly assess each operational function and any interdependencies it may have with other procedures.
Consider Alternative Applications
After reviewing your essential facility functions, ask yourself: If these functions were disrupted, what would take its place? For example, are there manual ways to replace certain operations to avoid additional downtime, or would you have to wait until your connection was restored?
Estimate Downtime Tolerance
When an operational or digital disruption occurs, zero downtime is ideal. Unfortunately, we know that’s not realistic. Between weather-related outages and an increase in cyber-attacks, manufacturing leaders are increasingly less concerned with avoiding downtime and more about reducing it.
Here’s where you can define the downtime tolerance for each operation. This is the maximum amount of downtime your company can afford for a given function before it begins to impact your business severely.
Keep in mind that downtime tolerance assumptions in the manufacturing industry are just that – assumptions. And they often tend to be inaccurate. Applications that seem less important at first glance may be crucial to your warehouse’s productivity and success. Assumptions like this make pre-assessed downtime tolerance impossible to meet.
To avoid unnecessary surprises, discuss downtime tolerance needs during your interview phase to help evaluate accurate projections.
Here’s a calculator to help identify your warehouse’s downtime tolerance stats
Define Priority Levels with Tiers
Through these first steps, you can identify which processes would be the most devastating to lose in the event of a disaster. From there, you can group them into priority tier levels.
For example, a Tier 1 warehouse operation would be something that needs immediate attention and can only afford little downtime. A Tier 3 operation, on the other hand, may be able to function during a disaster or not have a severe impact if halted temporarily.
Consider the Solutions and Costs
Unplanned downtime or exceeding your downtime tolerance can have a devastating effect on your bottom line, so it’s essential to include an estimated revenue loss in your disaster recovery plan.
However, downtime costs are more than just lost revenue. For example, suppose a disaster requires turning to manual processes. In that case, your productivity could quickly slow down, your employees could tire more easily and delays in product manufacturing or shipping would be inevitable.
To understand all cost risks at stake, as yourself:
- How will you recover work that is done manually?
- What is the cost if a manual process fails to work?
- What is your method to account for all the transactions, recording and reporting happening during the downtime?
Evaluating the real cost of downtime may be the most challenging element of a DR plan because these costs are unique to your specific business. Whatever solution you choose, make sure it’s driven by your business requirements to best set your organization up with a successful DR plan.
Test, Test, Test
Your disaster recovery plan defines the importance of each warehouse application, your acceptable downtime tolerance, and a breakdown of estimated costs and solutions for each operation.
Once you’ve compiled all the information, you must test your plan through the following steps:
- Test Tier 1 replacement processes specifically. (Testing all applications is not realistic, and these are the most important to assess.)
- Hold drills for your employees to practice disaster recovery protocols.
- Check-in with team leaders to ensure your plan fits their functions’ needs.
- Document the results of your testing plan and optimize as needed.
These tests should serve as a baseline for improvement to ensure your disaster recovery plan is as sound as possible.
Support Your DR Plan with Industrial Manipulators
Nobody wants to think about how a digital disaster would affect their warehouse. But if it does, how quickly team members can react and recover defines which manufacturers do or do not survive.
To support your disaster recovery plan, you should add material handling tools to your technology mix. Why? Industrial manipulators don’t rely on online connections and are a reliable tool whether or not you’re experiencing a digital breakdown.
While other warehouse functions may need to be replaced with manual work, industrial manipulators can be counted on to continue to streamline product transport, storage and lifting. Even if other functions come to a halt, industrial manipulators won’t add to your downtime and will help get your productivity back on track.
At Dalmec, our team is devoted to helping you find the material handling technology that best fits your facility, so you’ll be prepared with tools unique to your processes in a time of disaster. Contact our team today to get started.