Digital trends in Manufacturing

We’ve been looking into the latest industrial technology trends that we’re seeing across manufacturing and how we can leverage these to help our customers on their digitalisation journey.

Within the digital space we’ve been focusing across the areas of the Digital Twin, Platforms, Edge to Cloud solutions and the reimagined user interface (UI/UX) for OT environments and how they improve effectiveness and efficiency.

Here’s what we’re seeing:

 

Digital Twin and the Digital Asset

The Digital Twin is a big trend right now and has been for some time. However, to have a complete or ultimate Twin, you need end to end Design, Simulation, Engineering, Operation, Maintenance etc. linked together. This can be a barrier to adoption. However, Gartner predicts that by 2021, half of large industrial companies will use digital twins, resulting in a 10% improvement in effectiveness for those organisations.

We have worked through the benefits within our market, our customer base, to realise the Digital Asset message in the Operational to Maintenance space, i.e. not Design and Simulation. This can be referred to as the Digital Asset or Living Twin.

The Digital Asset or Living Twin, represents the real-time attributes, collects the history of and provides the basis for predicting the future operation of the asset. It is fundamental to the operational element of the digital twin.

Find out more about digitally modelling your operational assets with Wonderware System Platform 2017 and the benefits to be gained by doing so.

 

Platform

Being able to connect different machines, devices, people and systems together can drive huge business benefits. Having a Platform that allows for the convergence of different data sources into one single version of the truth, whilst giving you real context about what’s happening, is key.

It’s no longer about the product, or the individual HMI or SCADA, it’s about the Platform and combinations of all these different systems into one.

A big thing here is the ability to start small and rapidly scale when required, not having to do a big bang approach. Allowing you to prove the investment, get buy in, then progress.

 

The reimagined user interface (UI)

For several years we have spoken about the need for change within HMI design and cultures of adoption for User Interfaces (UI). Users should have an intuitive experience with the system so that minimal training is required when introducing the new technology.

However, there are still many customers replacing their HMI and SCADA with “like for like”. This doesn’t really transform a business or gain real efficiency.

We’ve been heavily focused on, and are introducing, context driven user interfaces, with applications that plug and play and can pass context between themselves so that the User Experience (UX) becomes immersive, modern and efficient.

This allows for faster reaction times, more insights, reduced time to click between different systems and less training requirements. But also, from an engineering point of view, it’s leveraging the Asset modelling in the background, and the UI will attempt to build itself. The new UI clients we have help unify the UX across OT systems, providing a single UI that hides the different complicated systems from the operator.

This makes the operations more efficient and context driven, but also makes the life of the operator better!

 

Edge to Cloud

Operational Technology focused cloud solutions, having the ability to control, visualise and analysis at the Edge right through to Cloud is beneficial in this changing landscape and a clear trend to keep abreast of.

It’s not always possible to implement local PLCs and HMI/SCADA in remote locations. So, the ability to use Edge type devices and software to enable data collection and analytics, before pushing the data securely to the cloud, will be crucial in the future.

There are various benefits to cloud technology, which you can find out more about hereWhat we are trying to achieve is a greater cloud to edge experience. We want to provide not just cloud environments, but SaaS based solutions, reducing the requirement for custom scripting, so it’s more about configuring. Providing maximum impact and value without having to customise the entire stack.