Business transformation is closely connected to the digital transformation happening all around us, changing both B2B and B2C relationships and related expectations in user experience and services. However, Manufacturing Operations Transformation – digital transformation for the MES space – often stops at the gates of the plant.
There’s no denying that digitisation represents a huge opportunity for manufacturers. However, while some manufacturers are increasing plant efficiency and production by harnessing the power of connectivity and IoT, others are struggling to keep pace with change.
Why the disparity?
Digitisation, despite representing a sizeable opportunity, also presents collaborative challenges and, in some manufacturing businesses, the gulf between IT and OT has never been wider.
For decades, IT professionals have focused on business systems and applications, while operational technology (OT) teams have managed the SCADA control and plant floor automation. The two have rarely interacted and yet the digitisation of manufacturing is demanding IT/OT collaboration. The IT world has changed swiftly and so too have the skillsets of IT professionals, whilst in the OT world tech implementations have longer lifecycles and sometimes neither team have the right skillset to handle this level of convergence.
Manufacturers just don’t have the employees with the skills in security, cloud and data analytics technologies. Meanwhile, the real experts in industrial automation are all retiring and not being replaced by new talent. The skills gap will continue to widen as more and more devices get connected to the network, so whilst convergence is hard, it’s the only way to future proof your business.
The digitisation of operational processes using a Business Process Management System (BPMS) can be used to capture best practices as electronic workflows, ensuring that knowledge stays in your business, regardless of personnel changes. The technology provides the agility and governance needed to support both people and processes but also extends that agility and flexibility to automation systems. With the Business Process Management System capturing and digitising the business logic, process and workflows it allows for the evolution of work practices and delivers standardisation and consistency across multiple plants, processes and people.