With the pandemic restricting outsiders from entering facilities, bakeries are looking at secure ways to allow remote monitoring without compromising security. All too often, however, firewalls and IT security measures prevent outside access by vendors because bakeries are concerned about a virus infecting their networks.

“It’s a very real issue and often caused by an outside vendor working on a piece of equipment and that laptop they bring in launches a virus into the network, which has happened multiple times in bakeries,” said Dave Watson, baking and snack subject matter expert, The Austin Co., in a recent interview with Baking & Snack magazine.

Mr. Watson noted that many baking companies now create networks to separate administrative departments from plant operations.

“That’s because a lot of times they were getting viruses that started in the office environment and spread across the network and into the plant, creating a huge risk for data being stolen from the site,” Mr. Watson explained. “It’s getting better, but IT departments from the major bakeries have very strict rules on who they allow in and how they allow them into the plant’s network.”

Securely providing remote monitoring can reduce potential downtime or allow vendors to fine-tune efficiency on high-speed production lines.

“There are big energy companies offering ways to monitor energy usage in your plant and create algorithms to better manage your usage,” Mr. Watson said. “Several companies have developed ways to penetrate their firewalls in a safe way so that critical points can be remotely monitored and reports created to better manage the capabilities at the site.”