In the second smart manufacturing podcast episode of season two, I speak with Rahul Garg, VP of the Industrial Machinery Mid-Market Program at Siemen Digital Industries Software, about the blurring lines of IT and OT technologies that are driving smart manufacturing.
Rahul discusses how manufacturers are overcoming challenges in the industry, including supply chain and labor shortages. The convergence of IT and OT enables the creation of a digital twin to address these issues, which includes using the Siemens Industrial Edge initiative.
Manufacturing operational efficiency
The convergence of information technology and operational technology is joining the boundaries for the machine manufacturing industry. The challenges of the industrial manufacturing industry include global competition, low-cost providers, and customization. In addition, and more specifically, other issues include the supply chain and the labor shortage, which significantly impact the industry.
Improving operational efficiencies is critical to address these issues and find alternative suppliers and decipher how to get products and manufacturing set up correctly with operators that are up to speed efficiently. So, all these attributes drive proficiency with operations propelling maximum factory utilization and operational data. Consequently, data is essential to drive higher throughput and operating efficiencies. In addition, factories commonly have a mix of older and newer equipment – newer smart machines that share data with a network and older machines that are data islands. Therefore, a network of sensors provides all that data and brings it together cohesively.
IT and OT – how they work
Information technology and operational technology are converging. Let’s examine these two more closely. Operation technology is the capability that runs the factory – the operation’s software, physical equipment and the controls or technology driving the machines and PLCs – it moves the factory. This software instructs the machine on what to do and ensures the hardware’s proficiencies. Information technology is the organization’s computer technology to store, retrieve, process, analyze, and act on the electronic information inside the operations. Information technology allows management to make decisions while operation technology drives actions in the factory. Therefore, IT and OT interactively collaborate to achieve greater operational efficiencies. Traditionally, there is a boundary between IT management in server rooms and office buildings and OT management on the factory floor; however, they’re now blurring. As a result, the information is flowing more seamlessly – which is essential.
In the factory environment, operational technology capabilities monitor the factory floor operations. Currently, capabilities like edge sensors stream data with an entire range of measurements, providing a good sense of how the equipment is performing. This information is captured on the factory floor during operations and fed into IP systems. These IP systems are structured to digitally optimize business decisions, looking at data from the edge sensors on smart machines. They create a better view of equipment operations to make real-time decisions. And these decisions assist in optimizing and maximizing throughput completed in the factories. It also provides knowledge into where a particular part of a machine is failing, running out of stock, or having issues that may impede the factory operations. So, real-time knowledge allows for better decision-making on rescheduling the shop floor, bringing in new support capabilities, or service technicians before the equipment fails. It creates an environment to maximize and utilize factory operations effectively.
Convergence and the digital twin
Furthermore, this data provides for a better digital twin. The digital twin, a virtual digital replica of physical objects, machines, manufacturing systems, or the entire shop floor, provides a replica of each machine while the factory is running. The IT and OT convergence offers real-time data and real-time information into this digital factory. Consequently, that operational data ensures higher fidelity of the virtual digital twin which means higher visibility of the real-world operations. Therefore, it is possible to see how the digital twin performs while the real twin is doing its work.
The IT and OT convergence and the digital twin, specifically, provide access to actionable data. This data empowers better decisions in an integrated manner to collaborate the planning, the scheduling, and any additional research about equipment performance. Additionally, it provides extreme flexibility and visibility into operations, driving the ability to proactively respond quickly to customer requirements and understand and respond to customers’ needs. The result improves efficiency to ensure zero downtime, zero waste, and zero operational issues – the triple zero. In return, it maximizes throughputs, lowering the cost to compete globally, improving overall sustainability, and minimizing resource usage, electricity, and water waste.
Siemens Industrial Edge
Furthermore, the Siemens Industrial Edge initiative is an essential ingredient in convergence, containing three basic elements:
- Edge sensors are available to a broad group of users.
- Open ecosystems allow integration, networking with manufacturers, and information from other manufacturing environments.
- Security and policy management via edge systems, open ecosystem support, and policy support.
Learn more in the audio podcast.
Xcelerator, the comprehensive and integrated portfolio of software and services from Siemens Digital Industries Software, helps companies of all sizes create and leverage a comprehensive digital twin that provides organizations with new insights, opportunities and levels of automation to drive innovation.
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