The creation of more data and the use of Industry 4.0 technologies are providing huge opportunities for manufacturers to improve productivity and profitability.
However, according to a report by law firm Irwin Mitchell, many in the manufacturing sector are risking huge fines and disruption because they are unaware of their full legal implications; the company has published its new Go Fourth report to raise understanding about Industry 4.0 technologies and help companies understand the legal issues involved.
The report highlights the different ways Industry 4.0 technologies are being used and says that a wide variety of machines and condition sensors are increasingly being connected and sharing their data with enterprise systems.
That said, the report calls on companies to understand how collecting and having access to more data can increase the risk of breaking the law; it also covers areas such as employment law, personal data protection (including GDPR), cyber security and intellectual property.
Dorrien Peters, a partner at Irwin Mitchell (and head of its national manufacturing group), said: “According to US tech company DOMO, over 2.5 quintillion bytes of data are created every single day.
Machines in factories are increasingly being connected to — and share their data with — an enterprise system or systems, and software is being developed to interpret and use this data.
"As a result, companies in the sector have never had so much accurate information about their operations as they do today.
“However with volume comes risk. There are greater opportunities — for example — for cyber criminals to compromise data and plant malicious code.
“The risk of valuable data leaking or being lost is also rising in proportion to the volume.
"Personal data about employees held by companies is both an asset and a potential liability.
“The aim of this report is to highlight the opportunities and debunk the myths about the shift to Industry 4.0 by clarifying what it means from the level of data use and data exposure.”
Another of the areas that the report looks at is the increasing use of technology to monitor staff and measure productivity.
It warns that if this is done without their knowledge and is used to give the employer an advantage, it is a breach of GDPR.
The report warns that employers can face huge fines and must be rigorous in their transparency to avoid this. The report also looks at the legal considerations for a manufacturer in terms of data sharing in supply chains.
To download the report, go to the following link (www.irwinmitchell.turtl.co/story/going-fourth-data-industry-40-and-the-future-of-manufacturing