Quality machine shops balance security concerns with day-to-day needs

While all shops want to be able to provide secure, reliable custom machining services, there are some who might go to extremes and harm the efficiency of their operations as a result.

A recent post on Practical Machinist discussed how paranoia over security for machining equipment can actually end up making things more inconvenient for manufacturers. Apparently, some machines, like the Mori Seiki NV5000 A/40, actually shutdown if they are moved around after being installed.

While this is supposedly intended to prevent illegal use, this feature suggests possible roadblocks for owners who can't make adjustments to their factory layouts.

However, it's clear that security measures are important. Writer Cory Doctorow makes a valid point about the need to keep CNC machines in proper working order. 

"Malware like Stuxnet attacked embedded systems on computerized machines, causing them to malfunction in subtle ways," he recently wrote. "A subtly weakened or defective part from a big mill like the NV5000 might find its way into a vehicle or a high-speed machine, with disastrous consequences."

Stolen intellectual property is also an issue. The National Association of Manufacturers collaborated with Harvard to study the subject and found that losses caused by stolen manufacturing software drained more than $240 billion in revenue and 42,000 jobs from the U.S. manufacturing sector from 2002 to 2012. Not only that, reversing the trend could mean an increase in jobs over time.

Given these risks, it is clear why machine shops need to strike a balance between ensuring security and facilitating daily operations. Failing to provide adequate security could leave a CNC mill unable to meet its customers' needs.