As technology has advanced, it has forced convergence among organizational groups and created the natural friction that goes along with change. In an ARC Industry Forum panel, IT/OT/ET Convergence Closes Asset Lifecycle Management Loop, ARC’s Paula Hollywood let a presentation and panel session including Emerson’s Phil Niccolls. Here was the session description:
Driven by increased demand for tighter integration and more information, the convergence of information technology and operations technology (IT//OT) has become essential for manufacturers to remain competitive. The advent of the Industrial Internet of Things and use of newer technologies such as GPS, drones, and simulation will intensify the need for this convergence as well as a re-evaluation of it. Including engineering technology (ET) into the mix is required to manage and integrate process and information flows faster and more efficiently. It will also serve to eliminate information silos and close the asset lifecycle management loop. Learn how manufacturing innovators are successfully converging ET with IT and OT to improve operations and make ever more informed business decisions.
Paula opened up the session describing some the technologies causing this convergence:
Some of the struggles highlight by a pharmaceutical manufacturer was the upkeep and maintenance on automation systems and the challenge of keeping things secure and up to date in a validated environment. The lowest level of the ISA-95 architecture with the devices have not changed much. The lifecycle is measured in decades. PC-based control systems have a much shorter lifecycle on the order of 5 years. This area is somewhat chaotic to keep up with.
A team was developed to manage the automation lifecycle to address these challenges. It reviewed inventories, architectures, assessements and capital planning.
In the panel portion of the session, Phil noted that the increasing ability to add sensors with the advancements in wireless communications technologies has affected the automation architecture by allowing both more connections into the control systems and ones that are completely separate for use in energy efficiency improvements and reliability enhancements.
The panel agreed upon the large change going in the IT organization with the rapid adoption of cloud-based platforms throughout the organization. More and more, operations leaders meet with engineering and IT leaders to align on requirements and how it fits in with the overall business strategy.
Phil noted that it starts with the business value and getting the organizational alignment that is also aligns with the business strategy.