IT/OT Convergence- Know its benefits and challenges in Manufacturing

The Industrial Internet of Things (IIOT) is transforming the manufacturing processes by bringing Information Technology (IT) and Operational Technology (OT) on the same page. The industries want to leverage the best capabilities of advanced technology. Though both IT and OT existed in separate spheres, having their own networks, objectives, and requirements, their integration is taking the productivity of the manufacturing industries to the next level. 

There is a question often asked, Why does IT/OT Convergence matter? It is because success in today’s industrial companies is possible through collaboration. IIOT is changing the way manufacturers work where complex machines are integrated with network sensors and handled with the help of advanced analytics software. It has erased the line between the two. 

Need for IT/OT Convergence in manufacturing companies

Companies in the manufacturing sector can unlock the desirable benefits from process automation and business intelligence to a simplified system that guarantees regulatory compliance. Many people misunderstand the integration between IT and OT and how it works. It is not about transforming the heavy machinery or plant engineers into data scientists. Instead, it is about formulating a strategy that bridges the gap and allows companies to enhance operational performance with KPIs and a unique set of objectives. In 2021, companies have kept the convergence of IT and OT under the priority list. 

Top Benefits of IT/OT Convergence in the manufacturing sector 

The convergence between IT and OT enables the companies to have more direct control and complete monitoring. They can conduct data analysis from complex systems from anywhere in the world. Imagine the flexibility and advancement in the processes! The professionals working in the manufacturing industry will get the benefit as they can perform the jobs efficiently. The stakeholders can access real-time insights with the converged data and make better decisions for the company. Many niches in the manufacturing sector are already embracing this convergence. 

Here are some of the benefits that it gives to manufacturing companies will get: 

  1. Simplified Process Control 

Maintaining productivity according to the best standards is of utmost importance to the companies in the manufacturing sector. The convergence is substituting bulky manufacturing execution systems (MES software) and other relevant applications. 

The advanced mechanisms can ensure inventory tracking, production maintenance, and quality control in companies. Even if the departments are running as separate entities, they can maintain uniformity in the processes. 

  1. Real-Time Visibility 

When companies are able to gather the bulk of data from the connected systems, it will automatically increase the real-time visibility in the processes. Industrial Internet of Things (IIOT) technologies increases connectivity, helping smart manufacturing systems generate a ton of data. With the integration between IT and OT, data sharing across the organization becomes possible. The industry professionals can analyze the machine-generated data and make the decision accordingly. 

Earlier, data collection demanded time and effort as managing various machines, sensors, databases, and gateways was a manual job. It required gathering vital information from separate sources and bringing them under a single unit for further study. 

  1. Eliminates Unplanned Downtime 

The manufacturing companies can easily overcome the issue of unplanned downtime, which includes equipment failures and unnecessary losses due to mismanagement of maintenance procedures. With digitization, the factories can ensure the maintenance process and draw insights. When IT and OT teams work collectively on monitoring machine performance, the management can detect the early signs of trouble in the equipment to take necessary action. The companies can reduce costs by improving productivity and eliminating unnecessary scheduled maintenance.

  1. Streamline the processes 

Integration of vital processes is not just a choice but a real need. One of the top benefits of the convergence of IT and OT is it brings the systems together. The professionals can easily streamline the processes to make the operations smooth and free from setbacks. Not only this, it will be far easier for IT analytics to apply to OT systems. 

For instance, IT can track every step of the manufacturing process. It will ultimately allow the industry professionals to find the bottlenecks in the production processes. 

Challenges present in IT/OT Convergence 

To welcome the digital transformation, companies need to reform all the areas. The case of OT’s modernization through IT integration is not unique. The convergence between the two is possible only when IT and OT devices establish two-way communication. There are some common incompatibilities that exist between the two environments. 

  1. Scalability   

It’s normal for edge devices to generate vast amounts of data. Without proper planning, these devices may collect data that can be overwhelming for the IT infrastructure. The professionals will be flooded with data, more than they can handle. So, scalability often becomes a barrier in the convergence of IT and OT. 

  1. Security 

One of the biggest challenges of convergence is maintaining security. Old OT systems cannot make standardized communication or enable remote accessibility as earlier they were not engineered for these purposes. If these devices come into the network of IT resources, they may be used as a platform for attacking them. Fortunately, OT devices produce packets with specific structures. Companies can use smart filtering to detect and eliminate the packets showing attack signs. 

Let IT/OT Convergence work for you! 

Most companies have a convergence of IT and OT in place. What matters is the establishment of a meaningful level of convergence that can dramatically improve operational efficiency and reliability. Although it can be challenging to make it happen, considering the range of benefits such as streamlined processes, interoperability, and collaborative decision-making, it will be worth all the effort. 

Zenatix is one of the leading IoT companies in India that will help you develop and deploy the right strategy around your target objectives in the convergence of IT and OT. Let us know what problems you’d like to address with its applications. It will help us assess your existing systems, define your requirements, and apply the correct solution. Contact us today to know more information about our IoT solutions. 

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