TECHNOLOGY

Embracing resilience in the world of industrial automation

Manufacturing has taken a huge hit this year, some plants have had to shift production.

In Summary

• The current wave of industrial transformation is about connecting and enhancing existing systems to achieve a business benefit. 

• For many factories and plants, there’s an over-reliance on traditional ways of working, of documenting operational procedures on paper.

Image: FILE

Over the past year, many columns and inches have been given over to the importance of digital in sectors such as retail and the service industry. But I want us to take a step back and look at what is a fundamental part of the global, regional, and national economy.

Manufacturing has taken a huge hit this year. Some plants have had to shift production, to help in producing medical supplies. Others have had to close down parts of their operations due to safety precautions. And then there has been the impact on supply chains.

Manufacturing matters to us all. Every society needs a stable, regular supply of goods. Therefore, manufacturing needs to be more resilient. For many factories and plants, there’s an over-reliance on traditional ways of working, of documenting operational procedures on paper. And when a crisis strikes, these operations cannot adapt.

Speaking to our customers across the region, it’s clear how much they’ve benefited from digitisng their manufacturing facilities. By embracing digital as a way of working, manufacturers have looked to improve their efficiency, make their operations faster and more sustainable. What they’ve appreciated the most this year is how much more resilient their operations have become.

Manufacturers across the globe are digitising their operations to improve plant design, engineering, operations, and maintenance. These companies are investing in digitization to achieve one common goal: increased productivity. Digital transformation brings sweeping benefits to manufacturing. But seeing that transformation through from start to finish can be tricky.

Leading industrial organisations to pursue digital transformation for five primary reasons:

  1. Correction of operational inefficiencies
  2. Creation of competitive advantage
  3. Elimination of inefficient processes
  4. Establishment of a stable IT/OT architecture base.
  5. Creation of new customer value and new business models.

The current wave of industrial transformation is about connecting and enhancing existing systems to achieve a business benefit. For this reason, connectivity platforms such as EcoStruxureTM provide an open framework for enabling new ways to solve business-driven challenges across industries.

Converging the IT and OT space needs domain expertise to drive it – someone who understands the process in the plant. People who know the industry and the customers’ processes as well as the technology. As well as providing digital solutions, Schneider Electric provides expertise on both the automation and software sides. For example, our Industrial Process Automation teams work with customers from the basics of measurement and instrumentation, delivering process instruments such as pressure, temperature, level, flow transmitters and valves; to PLC-based Control Systems to optimisation and analytics.

The next practice is the end-to-end integration of industrial and engineering software, to help bring the digital plant to life. The digital thread, which connects the digital twin with real time data produces a holistic and up-to-date view of an asset which may as well be the complete plant across its lifecycle.

Such integration helps connect people, assets, and operations to boost productivity and profitability. And using technology that is built for the future, this model ensures manufacturers get the most out of their industrial operation over its lifetime.

The current wave of industrial transformation is about connecting and enhancing existing systems to achieve a business benefit. For this reason, connectivity platforms such as EcoStruxure provide an open framework for enabling new ways to solve business-driven challenges across industries.

The question is, are you ready to accelerate the pace of your industrial transformation?

 

Josiah Habwe is the Director Process Automation, Schneider Electric East Africa.