The last few years have been transformative for industries as they have witnessed several new technologies at a dizzying pace. While several big and small players have been quick to embrace them, there are innovations that keep surfacing from time to time. The New Year has a lot in store as well, with several new technologies all set to take over the plant floor at incredible ways. These promise to bring in exciting new capabilities to enable industrial organizations in meeting their operational challenges and enhancing their efficiencies as well. 2019 will mark the beginning a new era of digital transformation for industries, with the convergence between Information Technology (IT) and Operational Technology (OT) becoming a norm. Let us highlight the major tech trends that will impact the industrial landscape in the year ahead.
Digital Twinning: More assets will have digital twins
Digital twins refer to the virtual models that replicate the physical assets of an organization. They contain an archive of asset information, such as its drawings, engineering analysis, bills of material, manufacturing data, and historical operational information. Industrial manufacturing will be increasingly embracing this technology to collect asset intelligence, enhance product visibility, facilitate collaboration, and benchmark the asset performance.
Specifically, digital twins can assist industrial organizations in the following ways:
- Leverage asset knowledge to minimize operational complexity and maximize its performance
- Get a holistic perspective of the asset to manage its risk and safety more effectively
- Collect real-time data related to the asset for accelerating and improving operational decision-making
- Facilitate asset monitoring, failure diagnostics, and predictive analytics for minimizing downtime
Technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), Big Data and Analytics, and rules-based logic are the lifeline of digital twinning. Even though this might spell considerable tech investment for enterprises, they will be eager to opt for digital twinning of their major assets.
Augmented Reality: Industries will leverage AR for knowledge transfer
Intra-organizational knowledge transfer is one of the biggest challenges in industrial enterprises with complex processes and operations. The challenge will be considerably addressed by deploying AR-based applications that are capable of serving interactive experiences which overlay digital information over the real scenarios.
Here are the ways in which AR can improve knowledge transfer within industries:
- Provides clear and detailed workflows and procedures for faster throughput from the learners
- Incorporates automated inspection within the application for better learning and quality control on implementation
- Reduces rework as the learners will be able to share their video feed directly with a mentor
- As the AR devices are “intelligent”, they display only the data required for the operation at hand
Knowledge sharing via AR is accomplished with the help of video-see-through technology as used in mobile/tablet apps and wearable apps that run on smart wearables.
Virtual Reality: Use of VR for training and simulation will be a norm
Besides knowledge sharing with the new resources is important for any industrial organization, so is training of the new as well as existing workforce. In 2019, the trend of using VR for training and simulation will surge ahead as more and more players will be keen to train their workforce via closer-to-life, simulative training sessions.
Some exclusive benefits of leveraging VR for training include:
- Provides a highly realistic, virtual environment with real-time, contextualized data overlaid
- Facilitates extensive familiarity with the equipment as well as operational, maintenance, and risk-handling procedures
- Enables the creation of near-limitless training scenarios without disrupting the regular operations
- Offers a repeatable, low-stress learning environment to the learners so that they can master their skills eventually
Training and simulation based on VR technology is backed by sensor-powered devices such as eye- and head-tracking wearables. These are run with VR-based applications that make the devices capable of synchronizing the virtual display with the wearer’s motion.
Edge-to-Cloud: The combination of cloud and edge will win the industrial game
As the boundaries between IT and OT are gradually merging, manufacturers need to embrace the application-to-application approach while deploying their computing resources. Utilizing a combination of cloud and edge solutions becomes the key to distribution of computing resources more successfully and broadly for industrial organizations.
Here are some reasons that the edge-to-cloud combination scores as a winner:
- Provides the appropriate personnel with actionable information for taking real-time business decisions
- Delivers industrial-grade availability of crucial data and information over the cloud
- Enables a reliable identification of process-related and operational inefficiencies
- Assists the business in pinpointing the potential production, safety-related, or environmental issues
The adoption of edge and cloud approach simultaneously entails the deployment of edge devices with edge servers, embedded analytics, machine learning, artificial intelligence, and cloud infrastructure. Since there are multiple technologies involved, this will be a complex process for business enterprises.
Cyber Security: IT/OT cyber security will converge to address the security concerns
With the number of cyber threats growing massively, security becomes a major concerns for enterprises. In 2019, businesses will focus on converging their IT and OT cybersecurity efforts to address the security gaps and challenges that seem to have increased with the growing number of cyber attacks and data loss incidents in the previous year.
Moving on to a converged IT/OT cyber security model will bring the following benefits for the organizations:
- Ensures a greater consistency in the security levels across the entire organization
- Allows the closure of gaps in the existing programs and helps defend against new challenges as well
- Brings extensive boost in productivity as the threat of security will be resolved for the business
- Reduces the chances of security incidents, both physical and virtual, within the organization
IT and OT are two different world and securing them as a cohesive unit can be a challenge. While IT security is about securing business data and information, OT security is about securing assets and infrastructure. So enterprises would need to find a digital transformation partner that can deliver complete cyber security solutions to handle both aspects.
Considering these new tech trends, 2019 appears to be a big year for the industrial players. From knowledge sharing to industrial training, data exchange, asset monitoring, and cyber security, every aspect of industrial processes is poised for transformation. In such a scenario, digital transformation becomes a necessity for industries. The best approach would be to embrace it sooner rather than later so that you can keep pace with these trends.
OrangeMantra is a leading technology specialist that can help you embark on a digital transformation journey. Connect with us and we will help you gear up your business for the change in 2019.