When developing complex digital strategies to achieve successful IoT initiatives and control system projects, the convergence of OT and IT processes is essential. However, without a platform that is easy to maintain, easy to use, and can eliminate downtime, this convergence can create unforeseen problems. To align OT and IT processes and reduce risks for more effective industrial computer projects, some factors should be considered.
1. Clear Objectives and Business Cases
When embarking on digitalization or IA strategy, setting clear objectives and business cases will help to ensure you’re getting the right amount of return for your efforts. Think about what it will mean to be successful – specifically in your organization.
2. IT/OT Collaboration
For a successful digitalization strategy, there is a need for OT and IT convergence in the shape of a Hybrid OT or Industrial IT role– a technologist with experience and knowledge in OT applications who also understands IT language and possesses an IT skillset.
3. Modern Computer Infrastructure
Before modernizing platforms, consider the following:
- Tolerance for downtime– In the case of unplanned downtime, how damaged will productivity be?
- The hardware/application protection needed – Would you be able to detect application failures in a timely manner?
- Data importance – What is the data being used for? Is it highly critical or needed for real-time analysis? What will data loss mean for your company?
- Seamless migration – How difficult will it be to transfer data to another system?
- Special skillsets required – Does extensive (and costly) training need to be factored in?
- Future-Ready Solutions – Will the system support new applications and IIoT? Does it have a 5-7+ year lifespan?
4. Applicability of Cloud and Edge Technologies
There are still operations where Raspberry Pi computers (small and low-cost) that help send data to the cloud. Although this works, security risks and elevated costs are unwanted factors. Edge-based tech is located closer to the plant floor and provides rapid feedback to make proper adjustments during projects. Edge computing offers pre-processing, allowing only necessary data to be transferred to the cloud, and keeps sensitive data close to the network.
5. Pilot Program to Full-Scale Implementation
Depending on the use case, pilot programs can have different levels of difficulty. Within each use case, to move forward with full-scale implementation, factors such as scalability, flexibility, control, and upfront investments and bandwidth costs should be considered.