Five characteristics manufacturers should look for in a factory network

While the key to a successful digitalisation project is data, the key to meaningful, accurate data is the factory network. And businesses need to plan carefully to ensure theirs can deliver on their needs.

IoT - IIoT - Digitalisation - Digital Transformation - Gears mechanism, digital transformation, data integration and digital technology concept – image courtesy of Depositphotos.
Without data – extracted from multiple sources and delivered to the right application, at the right time – little optimisation can happen – – image courtesy of Depositphotos.

By bringing together the machines, processes, people and data on your plant floor through a secure Ethernet network, the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) makes it possible to design, develop, and fabricate products faster, safer, and with less waste.

Without data – extracted from multiple sources and delivered to the right application, at the right time – little optimisation can happen. And there is a multitude of meaningful data held in factory equipment.

Manufacturing businesses need reliable, scalable, secure factory networks so they can focus on their most important task: making whatever they make more efficiently, at higher quality levels, and at lower costs.

At the heart of this truth is the factory network. So, while the key to a successful digitalisation project is data, the key to meaningful, accurate data is the network. And manufacturers need to plan carefully to ensure their network can deliver on their needs.

Five key network characteristics

There are five characteristics manufacturers should look for in a factory network before selecting a vendor.

In no particular order, they are:

Interoperability – this ability allows for the ‘flattening’ of the industrial network to improve data sharing, and usually includes Ethernet as a standard.

Automation – for ‘plug and play’ network deployment to streamline processes and drive productivity.

Simplicity – the network infrastructure should be simple, as should the management.

Security – your network should be secure and provide visibility into and control of your data to reduce risk, protect intellectual property, and ensure production integrity.

Intelligence – you need a network that makes it possible to analyse data, and take action quickly, even at the network edge.

Manufacturers need solutions with these features to help aggregate, visualise, and analyse data from connected machines and equipment, and to assure the reliable, rapid, and secure delivery of data. Anything less will leave them wanting, and with subpar results.


This is an extract from a longer article – The key to any successful industrial digitalisation project – which explains these five characteristics in more detail, along with a real-world case study of a British manufacturer who recently modernised its network and is now expanding globally.