This interview was originally published on Smart Industry.
IT/OT convergence is a hot topic, but questions persist about pairing the physical and digital worlds within smart factories to make them truly flexible, self-optimizing, and able to learn from conditions in real time to autonomously run entire production processes.
A true smart factory is a more holistic endeavor, moving beyond the shop floor toward influencing the enterprise and broader ecosystem. The smart factory is integral to the broader digital supply network and IT/OT convergence is a major factor that enables them.
In an upcoming webinar, GE Digital’s Ganesh Hegde, along with Dave Martin from GE Current and industry experts from Advantage Industrial Automation and Smart Industry, will explore how hybrid manufacturing execution systems (MES), in partnership with technologies like the edge and cloud, are enabling true, seamless IT/OT convergence in manufacturing operations.
In the meantime, Smart Industry sat down with Ganesh to get his perspective on IT/OT convergence, integration of the supply chain, and the collaborative ownership of data. See excerpts from the conversation below.
Smart Industry: Why is there still confusion about IT/OT convergence in the manufacturing space?
Ganesh: Traditionally, these are two different islands managed by two different organizations—even the KPIs are or were different. The new business models like digital manufacturing, customer-centric manufacturing, and others are driving the need for combining these two different islands.
Smart Industry: Can you provide examples of how hybrid MES are enabling true convergence?
Ganesh: One prime example are the overall manufacturing network dashboards at the enterprise level that are leveraged for plant-to-plant comparison to improve overall manufacturing efficiency and product quality. This is inclusive of optimal product/profit analysis to find out which product to run in which plant—which line and when for maximum profit. To analyze this, you need operational (manufacturing and asset) data integrated with finance and other data. Predix Manufacturing Data Cloud (Predix MDC) from GE Digital enables this by bringing the manufacturing data to the enterprise level, just like other business data (ERP, etc.).
Smart Industry: What is one new technology in this space that excites you?
Ganesh: The hybrid cloud model/technology, which enables our customers to run production execution at the edge with most of the heavy lifting (data storage and analysis) done on the cloud. This not only reduces the infrastructure footprint at the edge (plant), but also enhances system performance with minimum maintenance.
Smart Industry: Can you provide a quick explanation of vertical/horizontal integration of the manufacturing supply chain?
Ganesh: We are adopting Industry 4.0 principles, which call for integration of factory equipment and production operation (vertical integration) into the overall horizontal value chain. Horizontal integration is the integration of horizontal value-chain elements starting from the raw-material supplier/product developer, demand-planning components, supply-network-planning components, manufacturing elements, logistics/warehousing, and the end customers. This is accomplished with next-generation technologies like cloud, big data, mobility, etc. GE Digital’s hybrid cloud MES (inclusive of GE Digital’s Plant Applications and Predix MDC) enables this vertical integration of all plants into the overall value chain using these technologies.
Smart Industry: Let's talk low-hanging fruit. What is one simple way to facilitate IT/OT convergence?
Ganesh: New business models are enabling manufacturers to deliver the right product at the right place at the right time. High quality and maximum profit require a new, collaborative ownership of data and systems. We start with KPIs to drive these new business models, identify the collaborative ownership between IT and OT areas, and then look at systems and data-architectural needs (like Predix MES and Predix MDC) to support this new business process.
To uncover insights on how architectures are bridging the IT/OT divide, register for our webcast on Tuesday June 25th to learn more.