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The road towards IT/OT convergence

By November 10, 2023November 21st, 2023No Comments

The biggest challenge in transforming a widget factory into a pioneer in smart manufacturing may not be installing an industrial IoT or modernizing production methods. Spreadsheets are a possibility.

The foundation for achieving smart manufacturing and infrastructure is the integration of IT and OT. Smart manufacturing and infrastructure is fundamentally about data. However, the biggest difficulties businesses might encounter aren’t technical.

Interoperability of data?

According to the research manager of IDC Manufacturing Insights, who conducts global surveys on IT/OT convergence, companies frequently list security and compatibility as their top concerns. However, the most serious problem could be endless, sometimes outdated spreadsheets.

When those systems were first bought, configured, set up, and so forth in an OT environment, there was no data governance and few standards. The same was true of the controls, SCADA systems, various historian systems, and other types of data stores. Even the people who set up and configured those systems had no understanding of or outlook on how this data would be used in the future.

For instance, three engineers in the same department may each use a completely unique method of data logging. IT teams that manage big data traditionally may find this frustrating because they understandably hope that it is at least presented in a comprehensible manner.

When an engineer understands data that has historically been configured essentially in Morse code and that they have traditionally exported into an Excel spreadsheet and run their own process to compile, organize, and decipher.

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While some businesses are using machine learning to extract and organize OT data, the work is still largely done manually. By redesigning how they interact with data and the dashboard, businesses can avoid some headaches, for instance by ensuring that those three engineers begin recording data in a consistent manner.

The data pipeline cannot simply be turned on by flipping a switch.

Enterprises should approach IT/OT transformation with a realistic—and progressive mindset

Agile enables active collaboration between the digital and business teams to pressure-test and validate which functions are truly necessary and which can be easily integrated. It does not imply that the full solution will be released more quickly (in fact, it may do the opposite).

Organizations should be aware that they can’t just move on to analytics; first, they must consider how to deal with a backlog of unorganized records.

The real work begins with the backlog of unorganized records, this should allow a bit of reality to set in and help determine the best practice for IT/OT integration.

Good luck and if you need any assistance reach out to info@pctronics.us and we will make sure to assist!