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Smart Manufacturing Through IT/OT Convergence

So what is Smart Manufacturing anyway? We adopt the definition from MESA International: “Smart manufacturing is the intelligent, real-time orchestration and synchronisation of business, physical and digital processes within factories and across the entire value chain. Resources and processes are automated, integrated, monitored and continuously evaluated based on all available information as close to real-time as possible.”

Smart Manufacturing Through IT/OT Convergence

The key concept is “intelligent, real-time orchestration,” “synchronisation of physical and digital processes,” and “across the entire value chain.”

The driving force of smart manufacturing is the need for improved productivity, quality, safety, customer responsiveness, and supplier relationships, thereby creating a robust ecosystem and overall improvement in a firm’s competitive advantage. One way of achieving these goals is through IT/OT convergence, thus providing a single pane of glass for all stakeholders in manufacturing companies.

Content Summary

What Is IT/OT Convergence? Everything Manufacturing Companies Need to Know
A Brief History of IT/OT Convergence
What’s the difference between IT and OT?
Benefits of IT/OT Convergence
Challenges of IT/OT Convergence
Other Considerations of IT/OT Convergence
IT/OT Convergence Best Practice
Conclusion

What Is IT/OT Convergence? Everything Manufacturing Companies Need to Know

If you’re running a modern manufacturing plant, you deal with IT/OT convergence. But what is IT/OT convergence? In short, it integrates Information Technology (IT) systems with Operational Technology (OT) systems.

IT systems are used for data-centric computing, while OT systems monitor events, processes and devices to adjust enterprise and industrial operations. IT/OT convergence aims to align these two worlds better to improve efficiency and decision-making. Let’s take a closer look at IT/OT convergence, including its history, benefits and challenges.

A Brief History of IT/OT Convergence

The roots of IT/OT convergence can trace back to the early 2000s, when industrial organisations first began connecting devices to enterprise networks to collect data and optimise production. However, it wasn’t until the 2010s that IT/OT convergence started to take off.

Partly thanks to the widespread adoption of Industry 4.0 technologies such as big data and analytics, the Internet of Things (IoT), cloud computing and artificial intelligence (AI). Industry 4.0 technologies are transforming traditional industrial operations by making them more connected, data-driven and automated. As a result, there is a greater need than ever before for industrial organisations to align and converge their IT and OT systems.

What’s the difference between IT and OT?

The difference between IT and OT can be found in how each is associated with a specific industry. The term “IT” refers to any use of computers, storage network devices or other physical equipment for electronic data processing; OT is a branch of engineering that deals with controlling and managing physical devices through industrial control systems such as sensors, actuators, programmable logic controllers (PLC), robots which include supervisory control system solutions such as SCADA software used by manufacturing companies, among others to operate their plants safely remotely via computerised machinery monitoring functions plus providing real-time information about asset performance, including sensor readings from various parts throughout an entire facility cycle, It had practised since industrial times for managing machines on an assembly line or surveying workpiece movement through hardware in manufacturing facilities.

To succeed with an IT/OT convergence project, you need a team capable of tackling diverse challenges. One way is by having your IoT sponsor on board, so they are aware and invested in all aspects from start to end. Game plan for success! It would help if you kept both OT & IT informed throughout any processes or designs related to their respective fields. It’s important not only when it comes down but if there will ever come a time when these technologies merge into one system (or become widely used). Training staff appropriately beforehand might help too.

Benefits of IT/OT Convergence

There is an increasing need for data-driven decision-making in industrial organisations. Direct control of operations and monitoring performance in real-time is essential to maintaining a competitive edge. IT/OT convergence helps meet this need by providing more complete and accurate data, which can be easily analysed from anywhere in the world. This makes workers more efficient and makes it easier for businesses to identify and address issues in real time. Ultimately, this leads to better decision-making and improved performance.

There are many benefits associated with IT/OT convergence. Perhaps the most important is that it helps industrial organisations better use the vast amounts of data generated by Industry 4.0 technologies to achieve the followings:

Improved regulatory compliance

Adding IT to OT enables better visibility, management and auditing. This can help organisations ensure they comply with applicable regulations.

More efficient asset management

All IT and OT systems are seen and managed through a standard methodology. This means that any issues with assets – IT or OT assets – can be identified and addressed quickly and efficiently.

Increased Efficiency

One of the most significant benefits of IT/OT convergence is increased efficiency. By integrating your IT and OT systems, you can eliminate silos and duplicative workflows., which allows your employees to spend less time on administrative tasks and more on productive work. In addition, IT/OT convergence can help you optimise your production line by providing real-time visibility into asset performance.

Better Data Quality

Integrating your IT and OT systems allows you to collect data from all parts of your operation using a single platform. It lets you get a complete picture of your processes and make informed decisions based on accurate data. Additionally, converging your IT and OT systems can reduce the risk of human error in data entry and collection.

Reduced Downtime

Downtime is expensive for any business but can be exceptionally costly for manufacturing companies. When production lines are down, businesses lose money from lost productivity and delays in shipping products to customers. Fortunately, IT/OT convergence can help companies to reduce downtime by providing real-time visibility into asset performance. It allows businesses to identify problems before they cause production stoppages. Additionally, by collecting data from all parts of the operation on a single platform, companies can more quickly diagnose issues and get production lines up and running as soon as possible.

Improved safety

finally, IT/OT convergence can also improve safety in manufacturing operations. By providing real-time visibility into asset performance, businesses can identify hazards before they result in accidents or injuries. Additionally, integrating safety data with other data types can help companies to identify trends that could lead to accidents or injuries. By addressing these trends early on, businesses can prevent accidents before they happen.

Challenges of IT/OT Convergence

While there are many potential benefits associated with IT/OT convergence, manufacturers must overcome several challenges for it to succeed. These include a lack of standardisation, cultural differences between IT and OT teams, security concerns and general resistance to change within organisations.

Fortunately, there are ways to overcome these challenges. By working together, implementing Industry 4.0 standards and investing in training and education, industrial organisations can successfully navigate IT/OT convergence challenges.

Other Considerations of IT/OT Convergence

Process

The IT and OT teams have different roles and priorities, leading to security oversights and vulnerabilities. IT/OT convergence requires communication and collaboration between the two groups and adjusting business policies and workflows. IT/OT convergence also requires a change in corporate culture to support IT/OT convergence. Businesses need to establish the communication and collaboration necessary to approach IT/OT convergence and adjust the business policies and workflows that establish required security configurations and guidelines. IT/OT convergence is essential for businesses to stay ahead of the curve in the industrial revolution. Cybersecurity is a major concern for businesses today, and IT/OT convergence is one way to address these concerns. IT/OT convergence will help companies protect their data and infrastructure from cyber-attacks.

Training

IT/OT convergence is a hot topic in the manufacturing world as organisations increasingly strive to take advantage of the benefits of Industry 4.0. However, this shift also brings several challenges, including training workers in IT and OT disciplines. These two areas were mainly siloed in the past, but now they need to work together to achieve optimal results. This can be a difficult transition for many workers, and organisations must offer training and support to help them through the process. By providing standardised training courses, organisations can help to ensure that their workers are better equipped to handle the challenges of IT/OT convergence.

System Integration

As the world becomes increasingly connected, there is a growing need for technologies that can seamlessly integrate with existing systems. The industrial revolution brought about a new era of technological innovation and new challenges. One of the biggest challenges facing businesses today is cybersecurity. As more and more devices are connected to the Internet, the risk of cyberattacks increases exponentially.

IT/OT Convergence Best Practice

One of the most important things for organisations is communicating their goals for convergence. IT and OT groups must have a shared understanding of the objectives to work together effectively. Additionally, it’s important to show the overlap between IT and OT systems, particularly concerning cybersecurity. By considering these factors, organisations can increase their chances of success with IT/OT convergence.

IT and OT teams can collaborate by sharing responsibility for tasks, providing training to each other, and using the right tools. By working together, IT and OT teams can overcome the challenges posed by IT/OT convergence and create a more secure and efficient system.

IT/OT convergence can help to mitigate risk by providing a unified platform that is easier to secure.

Conclusion

As Industry 4.0 technologies transform traditional industrial operations, the advantages of IT/OT convergence are numerous and varied. From improving operational efficiency to saving money, increasing safety and security, improving efficiency and productivity, reducing downtime and costs and enhancing decision-making capabilities. Businesses gain a lot from implementing this technology correctly. The need for IT/OT convergence is more significant than ever.

While several challenges must be overcome to succeed, Industrial organisations can successfully navigate IT/OT convergence challenges by working together and investing in training and education.

Despite the challenges, IT/OT convergence is essential for organisations as they look to modernise in the age of the Fourth Industrial Revolution and provide a single pane of glass for all stakeholders in manufacturing companies.

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