Today's manufacturing environments are packed with potential security threats. With the advancement of technology, comes the increased risk of vulnerability. While previous manufacturing generations dealt mainly with perimeter security, protecting the physical building to avoid damage to equipment or unauthorized access, today's manufacturing equipment involves human machine interfaces (HMI) and other technical elements that only further complicate security.

Dovetailing on this topic, Rockwell Automation recently released a white paper that discusses the holistic approaches to industrial security, highlighting how a complete security analysis must cover three core elements including:

  • Security assessment: Understand your risk areas and potential threats
  • Defense-in-Depth security: Deploy a multi-layered security approach that establishes multiple fronts of defense
  • Trusted vendors: Verify that your automation vendors follow core security principles when designing their products

Diving deeper into the first element, security assessment, can be a daunting task. What elements of my building should be considered? Did I forget a point of vulnerability? How can I possibly ensure ever element of my building is secure?

rf IDEAS' Interactive Manufacturing Facility is a great resource to kick-start the process. This model discusses many of the security elements you many not originally have considered. For example:

  • Forklift Access Control: Monitor usage and prevent unauthorized access with a reader installed on the forklift control panel.
  • Warehouse: Control gates opening/closing and robotic arms utilizing a PLC/PAC and employee badge waved at readers.
  • Tool Crib Dispensing: Authorize workers using an ID badge and readers to take only supplies for the assigned task.
  • Secured Production Line: Grant line access when employee waves badge at reader connected to the HMI.
  • Purchasing Department: Secure information with presence detection, which locks screen when workstation is vacated.


These are just a few of the security points the interactive manufacturing facility model covers. Today's manufacturing environment requires a keen eye on in-person and cybersecurity. However, by breaking the steps of security into manageable buckets, it becomes easy to identify points of vulnerability, ensuring that your company is protected at every access point.

To learn more about manufacturing authentication solutions, check out this video on improving industrial automation operations, or visit the rf IDEAS Knowledge Center