Executive Summary: When you think of unified communications (UC), you rarely think of manufacturing. But there are plenty of ways UC and a hybrid work model can benefit the manufacturing industry and usher in an era of greater innovation.

The shift to remote work was especially abrupt for manufacturing businesses. Now that the dust has settled, many manufacturers are starting to reap the benefits of a hybrid work model.

A key component of hybrid work is a unified communications (UC) implementation that connects at-home, in-office or field workers, no matter their location. A crucial, but often, overlooked, component of UC is an automated provisioning solution.

In this article, we cover why automated provisioning is key to solving critical challenges with hybrid work in manufacturing.

The Situation – Hybrid Work Holds Many Benefits for Manufacturers

Unified communications can align management, corporate staff, engineers and shop floor workers with a seamless collaboration platform, paving the way for rapid innovation leading to less costly production and greater uptime.

Here are some key benefits and use cases for UC in manufacturing:

  • Remote tech workers and engineers can help address common issues remotely by walking a line worker through the repair, speeding up repair times
  • Remote product engineers can accelerate the time for new product introduction and work with floor employees to implement new processes
  • Talent acquisition and training through remote on-boarding processes can help new and seasonal employees get up to speed quickly without slowing down the production floor

With these benefits in mind, it’s easy to see why a growing number of manufacturers are redesigning their work models to support hybrid work. But not without several challenges.

The Challenges – Maintaining Security and Uptime While Connecting Disparate Systems

It’s relatively easy to set up UC for hybrid work for an office. It’s much more difficult to build an effective UC solution for a manufacturing company.

Every manufacturing business is unique. Every manufacturer has their own technology stack, important legacy systems and a combination of on-prem and cloud applications. Ensuring seamless and secure data transfer through these systems is a big undertaking.

Once you do set up an ideal UC platform that is interoperable with these systems, you need to provision users on that solution securely and without making errors that could lead to service disruptions or downtime.

Adding to that challenge is the fact that manufacturers are facing record turnover with plenty of experienced employees retiring and others seeking work elsewhere. IT teams are burdened with a backlog of time-consuming, manual moves, adds, changes and deletes (MACDs) tasks to take care of, leaving them little time to focus on strategic work.

Solution – Automated Provisioning for Manufacturing

Automated UC provisioning solutions (like Akkadian Provisioning Manager) make the job of provisioning UC users easier and less time-consuming for IT staff by reducing it to mere seconds.

Automated provisioning solutions allow your team to work from a single pane of glass outside of your UC apps and make relevant MACD changes without fear of disrupting or even bringing down the entire system. This is essential for manufacturing businesses where uptime and production are essential and a lack of collaboration can mean delays in needed repairs.

Our solution even has a role-based access feature that let you securely offload your simple, manual provisioning tasks to a HelpDesk or allow end users to make their own changes with a self-service portal – yielding important time and cost savings that don’t sacrifice security.

Other helpful features for manufacturing IT teams include:

  • Full-cycle, zero-touch automation via integrations with Active Directory and ServiceNow
  • API Triggers to extend provisioning actions outside of supported UC platforms (Cisco Collaboration, Webex and Microsoft Teams) to other important third-party applications and even legacy systems
  • Real-time directory number management
  • Bulk provisioning allowing quicker provisioning of seasonal employees
  • Remote phone control enables altering lines on Cisco phones without the UC engineer ever leaving their desk
  • High availability for automated roll-over to maximize uptime and ensure workers have access to the collaboration systems they need to keep production lines moving
  • Multi-cluster support across all your CUCM clusters allowing seamless communication between manufacturing sites, remote engineers, and corporate offices
  • Detailed reporting using SQL database queries to generate reports from CUCM

Expected Outcomes

It takes only hours to go from implementing an automated provisioning solution like Akkadian Provisioning Manager to achieving zero-touch, full-cycle provisioning across your manufacturing business’s UC environment.

Manufacturers using an automated provisioning solution will generate time and cost savings that lead to better collaboration across manufacturing sites and offices. This allows them to take full advantage of the benefits of a hybrid UC environment.

With automated provisioning, new users will have quicker access to the applications they need to get started right away. Remote engineers will be able to work securely, helping to keep critical machinery online.

IT teams will be happier, too, working on more impactful initiatives, rather than repetitive, manual tasks. Automated provisioning allows them to do less tedious provisioning work and securely offload provisioning tasks to a HelpDesk or other operations team.

Conclusion – Automated UC Provisioning is Essential for Manufacturers

Automated UC provisioning can help your manufacturing business save time and avoid the headache of constantly manually provisioning workers on the right applications across all your clusters. This will give your IT team the bandwidth to be available for support on other business-critical systems and focus on improving your technology offerings.

Looking for an automated provisioning solution to securely provision workers in your manufacturing business? Get in touch with Akkadian Labs for a free demo.