Operations and engineering: meet IT that works like you do
Many pure-play technologists are surprised to discover the depth and age of digitization in industrial operations. The reliability and longevity of much OT can’t be argued with, with many machine and system lifespans already considerably lengthened by a flourishing after-sales technology market.
But IT specialists do come to the table with innovations that can change the OT landscape too: a case in point is interoperability between specialist IT “point” products. Thanks to the evolution of APIs, digital systems now exchange data with fewer barriers between different protocols and schema. Integrations between software installations thousands of miles apart can take place smoothly over TCP/IP.
An IT graduate will wax lyrical about the benefits of integrated systems that communicate with one another both inside an organization and with its external partners, like logistics or supply chain companies. In these sectors, having access to up-to-the-minute loading bay metrics shared with carriers makes practical sense.
It stands to reason that integrating technology platforms so they can respond to one another at machine speeds is a good objective, especially when the integration is between all OT elements in production settings and IT in the organization and that of its partners, too.
In the hands of specialist technology companies with a significant history in industry, the latest IT capabilities can be put to use in surprising — and very positive — ways. The long experience of such specialists in engineering, mining, manufacturing and so on is vitally important. Without it, pure play technology companies may offer impressive solutions to companies in those industries, but they have little practical experience in day-to-day operations. To use an analogy: it may look good in the showroom, but it’ll fall to bits on the road.
At Tech Wire Asia, we’re looking at several technology vendors with practical knowledge of industry, who also have proven track records of their technology solutions being applied to good effect in real-world settings. This article focuses on Aveva, a company that combines various specialisms of proven and practical use in several verticals. It was acquired by Schneider Electric a few years back but remains independent and continues to bring its own advanced knowledge into this area.
Aveva can bring about positive change right across the enterprise because it combines deep knowledge of many industries (F&B, consumer goods, utilities and heavy industry, among others) with advanced technological capabilities using the very latest in battle-hardened methods. We’ll be covering some of those possibilities in a further article, but several quick wins might appeal to readers thinking about the possibilities of advanced MES:
– Emplacing service-oriented architectures to predict machinery failures better and proactively plan downtimes, so there’s as little impact as possible to production.
– Linking and automating systems via OPC-UA bridges that previously would not play nice together reduces the need for manual interventions by personnel who would be better put to use elsewhere in the facility.
– Combining internal systems in the back office (TCP/IP) with those in production (token ring, legacy serial, hardwired RTUs etc.) to get information in real-time everywhere it could be useful inside the business, across multiple sites.
– Appropriately curated data bridged from internal OT systems to external partners in ingestible formats (open APIs or web frameworks).
The Aveva website contains multiple accounts of how even small changes to processes in many of the OT and IT systems have yielded significant results for its clients. In every case, it’s technology of whatever provenance that was the catalyst. It takes a partnership between Aveva, a company with deep industry know-how and provable experience in IT/OT, and its client to make the change happen.
To learn more about how technologies’ practical application is changing many industries, check back here to read more in our next article showcasing Aveva’s work. Or, if you’d like to know more about starting your own journey to refresh (or even revolutionize) your operations, get in touch with a specialist who speaks your language at Aveva.