Bridging the IT/OT chasm: Making the move to digital manufacturing | HCL Blogs

Bridging the IT/OT chasm: making the move to digital manufacturing with HCL's Plant WorkBlaze

Bridging the IT/OT chasm: making the move to digital manufacturing with HCL's Plant WorkBlaze
November 09, 2020

Introduction

The conversation around IT and OT convergence in manufacturing is over a decade old by now. As the manufacturing industry absorbs the blows of disruptions in supply, demand, business infrastructures, and people management, the value of a single digital system is becoming increasingly clear. The argument for achieving a convergent technology to orchestrate the business operations of manufacturing enterprises is becoming a self-reflexive one. Take today's legacy-heavy manufacturing enterprises global, and the problems only seem to multiply.

The benefits of IT/OT convergence/single digital system go beyond cost, optimization, and management. Thriving in today's economies and ecosystem calls for a value-focused approach that can bring long-term resilience and agility, and make profitability a direct function of demand. It is no longer viable to deal with distributed resources, disparate information and control systems, process redundancy, duplication, and inefficiency. Naturally, the objectives of a seamless IT and OT convergence is no longer limited to removing these issues. HCL's Plant WorkBlaze redefines the enterprise's manufacturing recipe with a framework that builds convergence inside out.

Digital manufacturing for today's digital economy: key benefits

IT/OT convergence holds profound value, and the pandemic has only heightened the necessity of convergent technology in manufacturing. Here are some of the key business benefits that stand out:

  • Profitability: Synchronizing IT and OT systems brings unmatched efficiency to the manufacturing processes through continuous optimization, thereby increasing productivity. At the same time, standardized operating procedures enable cost reduction.
  • Governance and security: IT/OT convergence unifies the governance model that streamlines the implementation of future strategic and product-related initiatives. Moreover, the entire IT/OT ecosystem can be encapsulated by a military-grade security management framework.
  • Business development: Over 69% of manufacturing companies fail to attract the desired talent to their workplaces today. Digital manufacturing improves the working conditions of current and potential talent pool, thereby enhancing business branding. Employee experience is becoming increasingly critical to attracting better talent. IT/OT convergence enables a multi-fold improvement to stakeholder experience in the value chain.
  • Visibility: End-to-end resource, people, and process visibility brings greater certainty and precision to forecast and performance metrics, while facilitating automated manufacturing, AI-driven process control and optimization. E2E visibility brings transparency to business operations.

In today's manufacturing equations, such features are becoming critical to ensuring not just continuity, but also profitability. In fact, a number of manufacturers are adjusting their revenue targets to the downside. A single digital system is the answer to the inescapable loop formed by a heavy legacy footprint and highly competitive markets.

HCL's Plant WorkBlaze - pushing seamless convergence to the next level

While the benefits of IT/OT convergence can hardly be overstated, shouldering this transformation with in-house teams is no longer feasible for most. Approaching the convergence problem with a holistic framework is critical for getting the right outcomes. Digital manufacturing is slowly becoming the industry standard, and regulatory bodies across the globe are also affirming this shift - by moving toward a real-time compliance capabilities model from the older audit-based models.

In this highly intricate interplay, HCL identifies people, processes, and technologies as the three pillars of a successful convergence initiative.

Plant WorkBlaze is an intelligent framework complemented by HCL's additional support systems and capabilities. It enables a strategic merging of the IT and OT ecosystems within a secure, scalable, and efficient end-to-end architecture. HCL's Plant WorkBlaze packs some of the most critical features that not only enable a convergence of the IT and OT ecosystems but also account for the post-convergence digital system realities that unsuccessful transformations have failed to account for. Realities such as redundant support teams, off-the-grid service, maintenance procedures, and siloed control mechanisms.

Here are some of the key features of Plant WorkBlaze, that make the business benefits we talked about earlier, a reality in today's digitally interconnected global mesh:

  • Plant WorkBlaze provides a unified management platform for enterprise, plant IT equipment and applications across the organization.
  • Digital dashboards with single-pane, multi-site management enable a hawk's eye view of plant IT and OT ecosystem, with details such as ongoing issues, resolution timelines, and root-causes, helping to pre-empt maintenance activities and consequently reducing downtimes.
  • A persona-led approach not only streamlines the workspace of the end-user but also elevates the employee experience in the value chain, while enabling administrators to enforce water-tight data and control security measures.
  • Persona linked digital dashboard views ensure that different teams (like Engineering, R&D, Operations) in an organization get segregated and relevant data to make strategic and functional decisions.
  • Cross product integration and multi-protocol support ensure that the same pane of glass remains the control center of your enterprise, thereby making zero-compromise on productivity.
  • Real-time analytics, fault detections, and industrial connectivity not only enhances the quality of strategic decisions but also paves the way for data-driven strategic decisions.

Beyond these capabilities, Plant WorkBlaze deploys an Integrated Digital Convergence Center that seamlessly merges technical functions like field support, service support, 3rd party support, spares, and system management with management functions like production, planning, forecasting, and MIS capabilities within a single digital environment. End-to-end incident management, ticket aging reports, and problem management through alert analysis help businesses shoulder mission-critical functions without redundancy, while providing a great end-user experience.

Conclusion

Today, the number of variables in strategizing business operations is climbing. Injecting certainty into the system calls for a shift toward interconnectedness, real-time data, and reducing the human-touch from the most critical processes. The conversation around IT/OT convergence is, therefore, turning into a more nuanced one that talks about the critical functions of today's digital manufacturing architectures. HCL's Plant WorkBlaze places manufacturing enterprises on the bleeding-edge of technology helping them dynamically scale up and down, achieve completely agile, demand-driven manufacturing, real-time control of their enterprise infrastructure and improving the quality of strategic decisions. Companies must no longer wait for the problem to disappear – adjusting stakeholder expectations in accordance with the economic environment has never been the approach of industry leaders. Take charge, and bring centralized management and control to your manufacturing enterprise with HCL's Plant WorkBlaze. Get in touch with us today, or request a demo.

Take charge, and bring centralized management and control to your manufacturing enterprise with HCL's Plant WorkBlaze.

References:

  1. https://blogs.gartner.com/kristian-steenstrup/2011/03/16/the-strategy-value-and-risk-of-itot-convergence/
  2. https://trends.google.com/trends/explore?date=all&geo=US&q=IT%20OT%20convergence
  3. https://ics.sans.org/media/IT-OT-Convergence-NexDefense-Whitepaper.pdf
  4. https://www.mckinsey.com/~/media/mckinsey/business%20functions/operations/our%20insights/how%20digital%20manufacturing%20can%20escape%20pilot%20purgatory/digital-manufacturing-escaping-pilot-purgatory.pdf
  5. https://info.microsoft.com/rs/157-GQE-382/images/EN-US-CNTNT-Report-2019-Manufacturing-Trends.pdf
  6. https://www.gartner.com/smarterwithgartner/when-it-and-operational-technology-converge/