Technological disruption continues to make a massive impact, forcing virtually all types of businesses across industries and segments to adapt. With the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and Industry 4.0 continually creating a drastic change in today’s plants and factories, perhaps the most significant change is the combining of information technology (IT) and operational technology (OT) in the smart factory.
In a traditional manufacturing environment, when a machine breaks down on the plant floor, the whole assembly line has to idle.
In a smart factory, however, the integration of IT with OT would mean that sensors are embedded within the machines—providing alerts and warnings to allow factory employees to proactively schedule maintenance and prevent a total shutdown of the assembly line. Typically, a sensor would monitor the temperature of a machine, and when the temperature escalates beyond the normal levels, a warning will trigger.
In examples such as this, integrating operational technologies like meters and sensors with IT systems—therefore introducing a factory-wide IT network into the machine-driven manufacturing environment—can deliver many key benefits for manufacturers, including:
Improved performance and productivity
Through the integration of IT and OT, and the resulting common platform where both informational and operational data can work alongside each other, companies are able to create key performance indicators (KPIs) that enable deeper insight into objectives. Examining both IT and OT data side by side allows companies to pursue common goals, achieve visibility across the entire company, promote a streamlined approach to standardizing processes, and develop consistent, cohesive business strategies across different geographical locations.
With greater automation and effective governance across IT and OT domains, the speed of project completion and implementation also increases. Integrated scheduling and planning also leads to overall productivity improvements; predictive monitoring from real-time data analysis allows factory employees to stay on top of potential machinery and equipment issues before they become a full-fledged problem that could be detrimental to the assembly line and business itself.
A more effective workforce
Implementing automation into OT allows factory employees to reallocate their tasks and refocus on mission-critical responsibilities, since machines will now be able to complete actions that once required human oversight, freeing up valuable time. Also, creating one structured and coordinated IT/OT approach throughout the entire organization leads to increased efficiency in completing projects. Likewise, the real-time data insights provided by IT/OT convergence grants factory employees and executives the opportunity for enhanced visibility into information that allows better, more strategic decision making and room for innovation.
Increased cost savings
Cost reduction is a primary focus for both IT and OT departments individually, so the convergence of the two can deliver great overall savings. While IT often focuses on predicting profitability and also demonstrating it, OT often focuses on lowering production costs. Therefore, merging IT and OT often positively affects the company’s bottom line. Shared, standardized platforms through combining IT and OT also delivers a lower total cost of ownership for technology. Additionally, Gartner states this convergence can reduce costs for future integration projects, external and internal support, software licensing, and more.
Higher customer satisfaction
Predictive monitoring, real-time data analysis, and proactive maintenance on the factory floor mean reduced downtime and less unexpected disruptions. In all, this leads to shortened project timelines and much quicker product-to-market, contributing to elevated customer satisfaction and potentially an increase in overall product demand.
An IT/OT convergence can produce many rewards for your business, but it can also be a challenge to complete. For help with creating your factory of the future, contact Dynamic Computer Corporation. Our smart factory solutions are designed to streamline processes, enhance productivity, and optimize overall operations. Call 866-399-1084 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.