Largest US-based lumber mill cautions moving to Win11

Manufacturing makes the world go ’round and in modern facilities running computer-based machinery, IT makes manufacturing possible. So, it’s understandable why most manufacturing companies won’t be among the first round of Windows 11 adopters.

While some industries with tech-savvy end users running the newest apps on the latest hardware may choose, and even expect, to migrate to Windows 11 right away, Woodgrain Millwork, the largest US-based lumber mill, must take special precautions, assess the risks, and thoroughly plan the project out with careful consideration. Expensive, specialized machinery like log turners and debarkers are run by uniquely configured computers often running older OS versions and bespoke third-party software. Upgrading the device to Windows 11 without thorough compatibility testing could halt productivity and cost thousands, or hundred of thousands, of dollars in down time. 

IT Support and Services Manager for Woodgrain Millworks, Jay Thomas, joined our live tech discussion, Windows 11: How to Assess Risk and Readiness, to share his insight on when his team plans to migrate to Windows 11 and the top considerations for manufacturing IT when they’re ready to begin planning for it.

Similar to fifty-seven percent of organizations we asked, Woodgrain Millworks won’t migrate to Windows 11 for at least the next 12 months. Only five percent of organizations have started their Windows 11 migration, none of which are from the manufacturing industry.

Jay explains the importance of testing new versions of Windows in manufacturing IT and why thoroughness is invaluable:

“When Windows 11 was announced in October, my team was actually still on the tail end of upgrading our workstations to Windows 10. To this day, we still have several installations of Windows 7 out there and primarily on what we call our PLC (Programmable Logic Controller) machines.

Most of these computers can’t be touched because they are connected to a piece of equipment or a saw that make our wood products. Upgrading them can literally shut the entire process down. We will get around to upgrading those workstations, but because of this purpose and the connection to the piece of equipment, we must be cautious. Our approach must be very thorough.”

To hear Jay’s full story including:

  • his IT journey from biotech in Silicon Valley to millwork/manufacturing in rural Idaho
  • a mission to modernize tech at Woodgrain Millworks
  • why they chose to walk away from Microsoft SCCM

Check out the full 40-minute tech discussion and Q&A, including Jay’s story at 19:55:

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