I contend that digital transformation can be the catalyst to align these essential elements – culture and technology – as a foundational enabler for value creation, empowering both sets of stakeholders, OT and IT, to collaborate and solve the “here and now” problems that arise in the plants, as well as the long term strategic initiatives so essential to achieving the anticipated productivity gains.
The first objective on this journey is to remove the complexity and domain expertise required to access plant floor devices and systems.
Getting at a sensor, a variable frequency drive, a PLC, a historian, etc., should be no more difficult than connecting to a printer. This would greatly enhance the velocity of plant floor data throughout the enterprise, making it available for anyone to generate new insights and create value and dramatically reduce the time and skill set required to be effective solving big manufacturing problems.
This is truly about enabling all OT and IT practitioners to access all the plant floor devices and systems they need and use the tools they’re already comfortable with (Cortana Analytics, Power BI, Azure Machine Learning, etc.) to interact with the data and create the outcomes they’re seeking.
Rockwell Automation takes a highly innovative approach in this area. We’ve built a device analytics appliance designed to auto-discover plant floor devices on your automation network (sensors, controllers, drives, overloads, etc.), reach into an extensive library of device objects (digital twin) and create a rich data model for those devices consisting of:
- The knowledge of all the data available to be collected from each device
- The ability to immediately begin to collect/store the most useful data from each device
- Key events and notification for imminent or actual failure automatically configured for each device
- Pre-built dashboards with relevant KPIs and summarized data from each device, in intuitive and easy-to-act-on visualizations
- All relevant manuals and documentation
- A "BOT" based on Microsoft Cortana, enabling users to interact with plant floor devices and systems using "natural language"
The exciting result is that we’ve been able to encapsulate and digitize the key attributes of these devices – and expose all relevant content for that device via a well-documented data model.
What this means is that a whole new set of stakeholders can get access to the data from these devices using standard, well-understood technologies. This is a big step on the journey to digital transformation!