The urgent need to modernise OT is clear, and plant operators should also consider the following factors when further investing in automation systems.
If industrial leaders hope to keep pace with the new requirements of business and achieve the goals of modernised OT, their systems need to:
- Be software-driven. Modernised OT systems are controlled by software that dictates how the hardware operates. This leads to simpler management and more efficient use of hardware resources.
- Provide efficient computing resources and virtualisation. Historically, each IA or other OT-related application has run on a separate server or even on a PC. With the adoption of virtualisation, one server can perform multiple functions by running multiple applications. This cuts both CapEx, since there are fewer servers to purchase, as well as OpEx.
- Ensure redundancy and uptime in a virtualised world. Virtualisation creates new critical points of failure. Managing server uptime is more important than ever, as a single server runs multiple or all OT functions. With all their eggs in one basket, plant operators absolutely cannot afford to have a server go down. That is why an automation system that provides redundancy is so critical.
- Provide a single view of operations. A modernised solution enables industrial companies to manage all OT operations across systems from a single point of control.
- Deliver resilience. Technology managing OT must be able to keep pace with the speed of change in modern industry, handle retooling for new products, enable lean manufacturing and deal with an increasing number of products and specifications.
- Be specifically built for the industrial sector. Solutions should be designed specifically for OT and an industrial environment, with all the requirements of that environment taken into account in solution design.
- Provide seamless integration. Servers and management systems should fit into a plant’s existing environment with no need for cumbersome custom integrations and no risk of data loss in the implementation process. Additionally, plant operators should not try to go it alone when modernising OT. They need the right partner to provide expertise and solutions in order to generate maximum RoA. That partner must offer and support the pillars of modernised OT and needs to be a specialist in the industrial sector with a long history and a proven track record.