Also known as IT/OT convergence, IT/OT integration can be something of a buzzword, providing a veneer of technological gleam to otherwise straightforward manufacturing improvement projects.
But, when implemented properly, IT/OT convergence is transformative, joining two traditionally separate practices to create true operational efficiencies and cost savings.
Identified in the mid-2000s by Gartner Inc., IT/OT integration melds the software, monitoring abilities and communication capabilities of information technology with the equipment and manufacturing demands of operational technology.
Because information technology and operational technology historically have been developed, maintained and utilized by two nearly opposite branches of a company, IT/OT integration requires top-to-bottom buy-in, consistent communication and clearly defined requirements, goals and benefits to succeed.
When well planned and implemented, IT/OT convergence offers a wide range of benefits, including improvements in:
- Performance and production
- Cross-organization decision making
- Alignment of operational areas with overall business goals
- Environmental and regulatory reporting and compliance
Cost reductions are another benefit of IT/OT integration, thanks to efficiency gains and optimization in:
- Operational processes
- Asset maintenance
- Workforce management
Because integration projects can require sweeping changes, many organizations will identify an initial operation that would benefit the most from IT/OT convergence and begin there will full implementation.
Examples of effective, operation-specific IT/OT integration include:
- Machine Visions Solution for Surface and Web Inspections
- Continuous Casting Process Control and Instrumentation
- Slag Pot Management Productivity Optimization
Because of the technical, operational and organizational challenges inherent in IT/OT integration, companies often call upon a specialist firm, like AS&E, to develop and implement their projects.