Why an IIoT Strategy Matters to Manufacturing

Why an IIoT Strategy Matters to Manufacturing

Andreas Rosengren

Andreas Rosengren,

Most modern LEAN-oriented manufacturing companies are trained to constantly ask why. This approach derives from the fundamentals of root cause analysis in everyday problem solving. In order to succeed with IIoT (Industrial Internet of Things), you need an equally questioning and introspective approach to your own actions, together with a vison, goal and strategy. Here, manufacturing expert Anders Rosengren lists a few issues to consider during your IIoT journey.

In most industrial digitalization programs, we explore opportunities provided by new digital technologies in smaller proof of concept initiatives and how they may be applied in traditional settings – but we often fail to explain why in a convincing manner. On the industrial side, many of us are engineers and as such we often fall in love with details and technological solutions, which might be an advantage at times. 

In a disruptive setting however, this has a propensity to bar the higher, more holistic view of things and hence make people forget the bigger purpose. Developing a clear IIoT vision together with goals and strategy, is a crucial exercise that is often forgotten or taken too lightly. The result is exploding portfolios of initiatives with very poor mutual alignment and goals.

Landscape definition issues
How can we both give a fulfilling answer to “why” and at the same time secure a common vision? One issue is about the definition of the IT and OT (control systems) landscape. It is defined by the technology stack from ISA95 with four distinct layers:

1.    Control systems (PLC, DCS, CNC, etc.)
2.    Integration and visualization layer (SCADA, Historian, etc.)
3.    MES/MOM (IT support systems for production)
4.    ERP/PLM

This definition has served us well over the years, since there are very different prerequisites and technologies at the different layers and a layered approach is a good way of handling interfacing issues. 

Today, this definition doesn’t fully fit with the current situation any longer. With the developments in control systems as well as the introduction of Industry 4.0, the definition is becoming more of an obstacle. What to do then? We need to find a new framework that will help us talk about IIoT. 

Parallel efforts needed
Another issue to consider is that the industrial digitalization setting also brings aspects to standardization and strategy that is normally of less concern. On the shopfloor, most digitalization projects reside just in the intersection of IT and OT (automation and control systems), which means we have to regard the industrial standards and practices in this area. 

Many also experience difficulties when choosing between either the technical or the business IIoT path; both might seem equally rational on their own. I believe there need to be parallel efforts. The most important insight to gain is the fact that technology is not the weak point; there is really a smorgasbord of various technologies to use. 

Cognizant framework OnePlant
To battle these issues and to meet the specific needs of digital transformation in manufacturing, Cognizant has developed a framework and a methodology: OnePlant. Here, Cognizant’s human centric approach, our long history in traditional shopfloor IT, and our pioneering in IIoT melt together to guide the customer throughout the IIoT journey. The OnePlant framework enables manufacturers to achieve unified operations by aligning and integrating operational technologies on the factory floor with IT systems, supporting business processes and organizational models.

Are your manufacturing organization ready for the forth industrial revolution? Are you comfortable that your chosen approach is sustainable in a world of constantly changing technologies? If not, don’t hesitate to reach out by contacting me directly: Andreas.Rosengren@cognizant.com