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The Importance of Connectivity in a Global Manufacturing Footprint

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The Importance of Connectivity in a Global Manufacturing Footprint

While the Internet of Things (IoT) has taken our homes by storm with smart lightbulbs, HVAC systems, TVs, and beyond – the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and cyber-physical systems (CPS) are bringing a new wave of innovation to the manufacturing floor.

IIoT and CPSs provide your enterprise with the ability to network together multiple machines, sensors, instruments, and other devices across your global footprint and gain valuable insights to improve your manufacturing operations. CPS technologies are essentially an ecosystem of IIoT devices and can exchange data and control actions within the ecosystem.

While the IIoT and CSP evolution in modern manufacturing are exciting, it would not be possible, or safe for that matter, without a reliable, scalable, and secure network connectivity backbone. Here we will discuss the importance of connectivity to your global manufacturing footprint.

Connectivity: What’s the point?

Whether you work at an utterly tech-enabled manufacturing enterprise or one that solely relies on connectivity for communications, your connectivity is mission-critical in 2021. As the world economy progresses, more and more of your operations are moving online.

Your customers, employees, stakeholders, and managers require data integrity, security, transparency, and availability. Simple accounts payable or customer invoice processing can no longer be managed through a filing cabinet paper trail. Furthermore, preventative maintenance and other manual industrial processes can no longer afford to be handled in an offline and ad hoc manner. The best enterprises in 2021 will use IIoT and CPS to manage the shift from preventative maintenance to predictive maintenance schedules. This means that they will use AI and IoT to predict when conveyor belts will need replacement rather than guessing the wear over time.

Whether you are simply processing customer invoices or implementing exciting new manufacturing technology, your reliance on network connectivity keeps increasing every day with each megabyte of data your enterprise produces.

Choosing the Right Connectivity Solution

The right connectivity solution for a successful global manufacturing footprint will have two key attributes: capability and reliability. If your wide area network (WAN) and every local area network (LAN) has these attributes in place, you can be confident that your global manufacturing footprint is connected for success.


Your network needs to have the capability to meet the needs of your global manufacturing footprint. In networking terms, capability refers to bandwidth.

Bandwidth is the maximum amount of data that your connection can handle at any moment and is measured as megabits per second Mbps. If you’re running a global footprint with high data needs, yours is likely measured in Gbps – gigabytes per second.

Suppose you’re on a voice-over internet protocol (VOIP) phone call at your manufacturing plant and the quality of your call degrades when an engineer uploads a large 3D-CAD design to your servers. In that case, it’s likely that your network does not have adequate bandwidth to support your enterprise’s needs.

As you’d expect, the higher bandwidth your network has, the higher the cost likely is. It’s essential to make an educated estimate of your bandwidth requirements to ensure your business can function without overpaying for bandwidth you don’t need. Thankfully, there are online guides to help you do just that.


A reliable network offers adequate speeds, minimal packet loss and jitter, limited to no unexpected downtime, and maximum security.

Low latency and minimal packet loss/jitter are required to run a smooth global manufacturing operation, impacting everything from simple email communications to production schedules. Latency is the technical term for the speed or rate at data moves across your network. Packet loss and jitter, which refer to when data is lost or mixed up in transfer, also impact your network reliability.

Internet outages and network downtime are expensive in more ways than one. Suppose your facility has payables due or orders to be shipped but is unable to communicate with the required constituents. In that case, network downtime can be detrimental to your performance and your enterprises’ reputation. One way to avoid downtime is with an adequately redundant network backbone that ensures that if your internet connection drops out, every one of your locations and customers can still function and access your services. Failover is the method of switching between your primary and secondary connectivity systems.

Luckily, many providers offer service-level agreements (SLAs) to ensure a specific level of network reliability regarding latency, packet loss, jitter, and network uptime/failover processes. Be sure to read the fine print of your SLA before signing up for connectivity services.

However, given the prevalence of malware and network intrusions, most SLAs explicitly does not cover network security. It’s up to your IT team to ensure that your network is adequately protected from cyber threats using firewalls, encryption, and security protocol.

What’s Next

If reading this prompts you to question the capability and reliability of your enterprises’ connectivity, it might be time for you to reassess your network architecture and providers.

But as a global manufacturing enterprise, your time and resources should be focused on your core competencies, not your Internet connection. There are plenty of telecom agents, managed service providers, and IT consultancies who are eager to help out if your IT team is not fully equipped to find the best solution for your enterprise.


Ginger Woolridge is the Head of Growth at Lightyear, a web platform that helps businesses comparison shop for network services (dedicated internet access, WAN solutions, VoIP, managed services, etc.). Ginger is based in NYC.