Have you ever wondered how you could impact the bottomline with end-to-end visibility of assets, operations and financials, in real time? Take the instance of a refinery maintenance engineer wanting to predict when critical equipment components are likely to fail. This on time prediction can help the plant to transition away from traditional inefficient scheduled maintenance practices, enabling the maintenance team to focus only on the equipment that truly requires attention. Early predictive warnings help the plant manage risk, optimize parts inventory and eliminate unnecessary work. This is only accomplished by leveraging enterprise transactional data (work order history, past failures, inventory and parts availability) and operational data (process conditions, plant schedules, vibrations, pressures, temperatures) simultaneously.
Understanding IT/OT convergence
IT / OT Convergence is a driving industry trend that bridges IT and OT data and platforms in near real-time so that information can be harnessed as a virtual single system, enabling visibility and business process reinvention across the entire enterprise.
We are in a new world now. Over the past three decades the volumes of data flow between the OT and IT worlds have increased dramatically. And, technologies that include in-memory databases, advanced integration methods, sensing techniques (Internet of Things (IoT)), machine learning and improved analytics are enabling this change. This compels companies to leverage these technologies as they face ever-increasing competitive and marketplace pressures.
Is IT and OT convergence the key to navigating the new world?
The problem is, for production-intensive industries such as oil and gas, mining and power generation, there has always been separation between Operational Technology (OT) systems and traditional IT Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems (including Enterprise Asset Management (EAM)). The reasons? It is required for operational integrity and security. Furthermore, differences in underlying system architectures or organizational support makes it impractical to deliver the combined functionality with a single system. Therefore, there will be a ‘virtual convergence’ for these businesses – IT and OT must continue to operate on separate physical platforms.
Most companies have invested in an Enterprise Data Platform (EDP) for finance, accounting, supply and human resource functions. Many have also adopted a standard suite of Enterprise Asset Management (EAM) solutions. The key stepping stone to achieving IT / OT Convergence is the implementation of an enterprise-wide Operational Data Platform (ODP) for real-time production, equipment condition and other operating parameters as well.