There is significant value to be gained on the journey to digital transformation and substantial productivity gains to be realized, but only by taking a hard look at both the cultural and the technological constraints that inhibit most manufacturing organizations from achieving great, sustainable outcomes on this journey.
Two decades after automation networks on the plant floor became ubiquitous, it’s still generally true that information accessibility between plant floor devices — and the people and systems that can create new value from them — proves to be a significant challenge.
It’s clear that we need a fresh paradigm to enable the real-time flow of information throughout the manufacturing enterprise to truly capitalize on technology innovations such as predictive analytics, machine learning and digital transformation.
Let’s take a hard look at the underlying root causes for this phenomenon.
- OT (manufacturing operations leaders) are motivated and incentivized differently than their associates in IT, often causing diametrically opposed actions/initiatives in operations
- OT is characterized by a “here and now” mentality – keeping production going at all costs with little room to think about the future/sustainability of their actions/systems (i.e. solve this problem right now, but spend as little as possible and with little thought to standards, system sustainability, security impact, etc.)
- OT tends to make software technology selections based on the minimal investment required to solve the problem at hand – often a custom solution (shadow IT), which is likely non-compliant with IT standards and outside the purview of IT
- IT (information technology executives) live in an environment where adherence to standards, process rigor and systems sustainability is paramount –perceived by OT as taking too long to serve the needs of the plant/operations
- IT is motivated to reduce the number of systems, vendors and “shadow-IT” in operations, which puts them at odds with their associates in the plants
- IT is skeptical of, wary of and often unwelcome in plant operations. OT doesn’t trust IT to be able to help in a cost effective and timely fashion