Source: Shutterstock

Journey into Industry 4.0, with Rockwell Automation

For skilled personnel with long experience in industry, it’s sometimes difficult to see how digital transformation processes can be applied.

One area of technology little-known except in IT circles is known as virtualization. Outside the confines of the data center, the concept seems esoteric, to say the least; especially in manual and process-driven industries such as manufacturing, utilities, and marine or life science.

But virtualization in distinct forms can easily be applied to industry, in ways that create new Connected Enterprises.

Digital twin

Alongside suppliers with significant industry and technical experience like Rockwell Automation, a new generation of manufacturers, utilities, and others, are exploring fresh ways to diagnose and solve problems, and much more, by digital modelling – or digital twinning.

Digital twins, (which would be termed in IT circles as “virtualized instances”) are representations of real-life systems created in software. Machines, controllers, processes, workflow, and every other aspect of a system can become represented digitally, without any interruption to live activities.

Once “running,” digital twins allow organizations to explore methods that diagnose and solve machine & process problems, and experiment with systems to determine the most cost-effective line start-ups. What-if modelling, and risk assessments, trials to test safety features, and automatic adherence to governance, are just some of the areas in which the use of digital twins can help, too.

Once the digital twin has planned out the most efficient, safe, and productive way forward, industrial internet of things devices (IIoT) can feed data streams into the model from these embedded smart devices and controls. Data flows provide continuous insights to improve workflows and increase profitability. The twin’s model can be tweaked, and the discrepancies between twin and “real life” give amazing insight for business & process owners.

Source: Rockwell Automation

Digital thread

Similar to a digital twin, a digital thread creates a virtual representation of how data travels within an enterprise.

The digital thread allows oversight improvements right across the supply chain, including delivery of work instructions to operators, quality control sampling, and the automated triggering of component and materials from vendors, suppliers, and partners.

Additionally, regulatory compliance can be maintained, with the digital thread creating documents and triggered events according to governance and/or detailed customer specifications.

The Connected Enterprise

The combination of digital twins and digital threads creates what is known by Rockwell Automation (and the industry at large) as “The Connected Enterprise.” Drawing together IIoT, virtualization, mobility, and data streams which feed big data “lakes,” The Connected Enterprise means that any organization in any industry can become a significant player in Industry 4.0

Having undergone its own connected enterprise journey, Rockwell Automation understands the challenges of setting off down this path and offers a five-stage process for its customers who are minded to undertake their own journeys.

  • Assessment: plan and create a blueprint for a digitized operation.
  • Secure and upgrade: install or refresh IT/OT networks and controls, connecting them to modern IT infrastructure.
  • Manage data capital: define and organize data so it provides meaningful information for better decision making in real-time.
  • Analytics: the transformation of data into business intelligence — a.k.a. BI – driving operational benefits for the enterprise. BI helps lower costs, increase productivity and improve customer satisfaction.
  • Optimize and collaborate: use digital modelling and real-world data to create predictive models, allowing faster response to external events and changes in market conditions.

By pulling together the twin threads of the operations and enterprise information groups into a common cause, leading companies, in partnership with Rockwell Automation, are on the way to digital transformation, creating new Connected Enterprises.

Become globally competitive; become part of Industry 4.0. Take the first step with Rockwell Automation by getting in touch with a representative today.