Optimising manufacturing operations with the right IT Solutions

Optimising Manufacturing operations with IT solutions


Optimising manufacturing operations isn’t always easy, but it can be achieved with the right IT Solutions.

Manufacturing businesses are typically the best at seeking out efficiency and productivity in their operations, particularly on the shop-floor.  However, many still do not apply the same LEAN principles to the rest of their operations, and that can mean the optimisation of processes is more challenging because of a lack of consistency throughout the business.

Systems and process analysis, and automation can be used throughout an organisation to drive down inefficiencies. IT is certainly an enabler of an efficient and well-performing optimisation.

As QuoStar’s Robert Rutherford was recently quoted in the Manufacturer: “Finance operations, for example, are often very bloated, but IT can facilitate outsourcing or offshoring, not only reducing costs but also allowing the process to become quickly automated to a good extent.”


What types of IT solutions and services can help with Optimising manufacturing operations?

Historically, manufacturers were always at the forefront of technology. This has in many ways meant that they experienced the falls and disappointments that come with testing cutting edge solutions. However, technology systems have also been driving results for manufacturers in some areas – such as IoT, cloud services and CRM.


Internet of Things (IoT)

The Internet of Things (IoT) has certainly given advantage to manufacturers both on the shop-floor and within their products on customer sites – by helping in support and maintenance, but also in querying big data for insights and value. It’s driving decisions around productivity, wastage and research & development to deliver wins across the board.

Cloud Services

Cloud services are also still extremely valuable to manufacturers. Although many still keep heavy processing in a private cloud, the public cloud (particularly AWS and Azure) allows operations and development to flex, trial and scale-up (and scale-out) without the traditional costs and complexities of big kit in the server room. The pandemic has heavily accelerated change. Customers have demanded faster innovation, more data and information, greater integration, and increased security.


CRM systems have moved on significantly and its greatly improving the service manufacturers are able to deliver to customers, whether it is on managing expectations, delivering value or collecting relevant information. They can also drive an increase in sales in terms of new business wins, cross-sales and real-engagement with marketing automation.

Big CRM projects were historically associated with large capex costs. However, now they virtually all come in a cloud-based delivery model on a price per user basis.


Digital Transformation Road Mapping & IT Consultancy

QuoStar specialise in IT solutions. We can help with Digital Transformation Road mapping, as well as offering IT Consultancy services. Don’t with QuoStar you also have access to a CIO Service too!


If you’d like help optimising your manufacturing operations, please get in touch with our team today.

Endpoint security in an agile world

WFH small for Endpoint security blog

Endpoint security has evolved significantly over the last 2 years.

The old signature-based antivirus and basic firewalls are simply not enough to protect businesses from an endpoint breach, be it a laptop, desktop or a mobile device. The threat landscape has increased massively through COVID, endpoints are outside of the protection of the corporate network en masse. How the endpoint is protected is going to vary by the workload and application sets used within an organisation.


Endpoint Security for SaaS platforms and legacy applications

There are two main camps. Those who are predominately web based, say using Office365 and a couple of line of business applications that run on a SaaS (Software as a Service) platform.  And those who run a mix of legacy applications, probably with Office 365 and perhaps Citrix or Windows remote desktop. There are of course those who use technologies, such as AVD (Azure Virtual Desktop) but for simplicity we’ll bundle them into the latter camp. In reality, the risks to both are similar and need to be assessed.


Layering is key 

The key to protecting all endpoints and ultimately all organisations is to have numerous layers of defence. You can’t simply rely on a single control – because if that fails, or has a security vulnerability, then it’s probably going to be breached. The cybercrime industry is simply enormous, global, relentless and moves at lightning speed.

The more controls and the more checks and balances you have, the more chance you have of another control picking up and stopping exploits. This isn’t about doubling up, it’s about using a number of controls that protect against primary risks but may have some overlap. It’s not just about technology, so organisations really need to work on their risk registers to understand how they are controlling against certain risks and where they are thin.


Information Security Management System

Ideally organisations should be looking at implementing some form of ISMS (Information Security Management System). Something such as ISO27001 or IASME to continually evaluate, test and improve their IT security.

It’s now critical to have a framework to manage endpoint security as things are moving so fast. A business can’t simply rely on IT support and security teams to be responsible for data security. It’s the boards responsibility to make the decisions on how they are going to protect against particular risks, divert budgets, etc. It’s not the IT team that regulatory bodies, such as the ICO, FCA or SRA will punish if there is a breach. Neither will clients or the media be fobbed off that it’s an IT issue, especially if there is no ISMS in place.


Simplify IT environments

As a general rule, all organisations need to be focused on simplifying their IT environments. Over the years there has been too much bloat, in terms of too many applications, servers and data. This bloat has led to complexities.

The more complex an IT environment the more difficult it is to secure. This has to be a primary focus in this new world, simplifying the environment. Needs dependant, generally you can simplify and ultimately secure the endpoint by not having any data or applications running on it, except the bare minimum. The larger the attack surface the bigger the danger of an exploit.

This isn’t always going to be possible of course, but where it is, technologies such as Azure Virtual Desktop, Remote Desktop Services and the like do have their place.


Endpoint Security of BYOD (Bring Your Own Device)

More and more organisations are again talking about BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) coming out of the pandemic. In certain instances/circumstances BYOD can be extremely beneficial for a business if, for example, it’s giving access to a web based portal to a 3rd party contractor, obviously with some security measures, such as multi-factor authentication. However, as a general business practice, for all staff, BYOD not a good idea because in the main it’s difficult for an IT team to really lock down someone’s own device properly.

There are various container type solutions that isolate data and applications from the underlying operating system that can be used, but depending on what information that employee is dealing with you might want greater control and monitoring of the device. You can’t really do that on an employee’s personal device without impinging on their privacy.


Can CYOD help solve Endpoint Security issues?

One good solution can be a CYOD (Choose your own Device) initiative as a sensible middle-ground. That way people get the tech they prefer but the business can overlay whatever security solutions they like. In particular SIEM solutions and intelligent advanced endpoint security protections solutions are more and more critical.


What risks does an endpoint face?

The bulk of the risks that face the endpoint come over the network, as a direct attack against an interface, listening and man-in-the-middle attacks or delivered through an application, such as a web browser or email client. Once the endpoint is breached any follow-on breach to the main corporate network is going to also come from this device.

This is why it’s essential to get some control of the connections to and from the endpoint with technologies, such as SASE, CASB and VPNs. It should be noted that generally traditional VPNs are cumbersome and still problematic, and not ideal in a hybrid world.


Next Steps

If you’d like a free initial review of your security controls – without any obligation please fill in your details here and one of our team will get back to you.





Wessex Cancer Trust flying high after QuoStar-sponsored fundraiser

QuoStar-sponsored Fundraiser for Wessex Cancer Trust


Wessex Cancer Trust thrilled after this year’s QuoStar-sponsored fundraiser hits great heights.

Wessex Cancer Trust’s annual fundraising Bournemouth Air Show hospitality event, sponsored by local IT consultancy QuoStar, raised £12,000 this year to support local people living with cancer.

An annual QuoStar-sponsored fundraiser event

After taking a break in 2020 due to Covid-19, this year’s event took place on Friday 3rd September 2021 at Key West Restaurant on Bournemouth Pier during the Bournemouth Air Festival. The event, sponsored QuoStar for the 7th year running, has raised close to £40,000 in total over the years.

An enjoyable day out for a good cause

Attendees were welcomed with a Pimm’s on the prom, followed by a three-course lunch and some fundraising fun and games. The 180 guests also enjoyed spectacular VIP views of the Air Festival flight displays throughout the day – including the spectacular Red Arrows.

Graham Barton Homes Under the Hammer

The fundraising festivities began with a guest appearance from none other than Homes under the Hammer auctioneer Graham Barton, who auctioned off some of the generous donations from local businesses – including a trip for 2 to the Chewton Glen Hotel and Spa, and tickets for the Goodwood Revival Festival.

Other fun activities included a game of heads or tails. QuoStar guest James was the winner, taking home 3 bottles of wine. There was a wheelbarrow of wine raffle too – with the winner kindly donating the prize back to the Wessex Cancer Trust to use in future fundraising endeavours.


James Stelfox Speech at QuoStar -sponsored fundraiser

James Stelfox, Managing Director at QuoStar, comments:

“We’ve proudly partnered with Wessex Cancer Trust for the past seven years on this QuoStar-sponsored fundraiser event. They are an obvious choice for us. It’s important to QuoStar to support a local charity that makes a big impact in the area. Wessex Cancer Trust does so much great work in the local community. They provide invaluable support not only to those affected by cancer, but to their loved ones as well. They do such a fantastic job putting these events on too!

It’s so nice to have this event back again after last year’s break. This event provides a brilliant opportunity for businesses to come together and network. All while raising awareness of, and money for, an incredibly worthwhile cause.”


Sarah King Wessex Cancer Trust

Sarah King, Wessex Cancer Trust’s Corporate & Community Fundraiser said:

“It was wonderful to be able to put on this event once again after a difficult 18 months for so many. Guests were able to meet other businesses in person once more to network whilst watching the amazing air displays in glorious sunshine.”

The importance of Wessex Cancer Trust’s work has been brought into even sharper focus this month. Girls Aloud band member Sarah Harding sadly lost her battle with breast cancer at the beginning of September – only a few weeks before the start of Breast Cancer Awareness month. Sarah Harding’s story only highlights how important it is to book a check-up if you have any cause for concern.

Where does the money raised at the QuoStar-sponsored fundraiser event go?

All the money raised for Wessex Cancer Trust at the QuoStar-sponsored fundraising event will be used to provide practical and emotional support to those living with cancer in Dorset Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, as well as helping their families.

Next years event

The charity’s 2022 Air Show hospitality day takes place on Friday 2nd September and a table of ten costs £1,000. If you are interested in purchasing a table or supporting the charity in any other way – via donations or fundraisers – please contact [email protected] for more information.

Air Festival Fundraiser table

If you’d like to find out more about the IT Support, Consultancy and Security that QuoStar provides click here.