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True digital transformation means not only collecting relevant data from intelligent assets – it also includes converting that data into information that empowers people at all levels of the organisation to work smarter and more productively. By Javier Garcia Lopez, Business Development Manager for South East Asia, Rockwell Automation.

The challenge of too much information: Too many opportunities for process automation have been missed because data management is difficult and creating analytics can be even more challenging. What’s turned into useful information that employees can act on, is a fraction of the data generated by the enterprise. The age of digital is in full swing, but many companies need a better way to integrate the devices, applications and systems in their industrial enterprise and reap the full benefits of the data they produce.

True digital transformation means not only collecting relevant data from intelligent assets – it also includes converting that data into information that empowers people at all levels of the organisation to work smarter and more productively. Companies are beginning to realise now that even if they diligently store every bit of unstructured data with the hope of finding patterns and business value, they will need to spend significant resources to clean up and organise that data later – an unsustainable process for many.

Harnessing The Power Of Information

The most impactful way for companies to automate their data management process is by implementing an integrated information solution in the form of a scalable analytics approach. This can help prevent data overload by solving problems that exist at different levels of their enterprise. A scalable analytics platform offers a cost-effective and practical way to distribute intelligence across all levels of the organisation that employees can immediately act on – on the edge, on-premises or in the cloud.

Simultaneously, it extends beyond the edge to encompass engines and tools that automatically and efficiently arrange data from multiple sources. This allows users to see commonalities and gain operational and business insights faster.

Often, companies think their hardware is programmed to work only on select networks that fit together with their brand of equipment. This notion makes it difficult for companies who have already invested in hardware for their plant to keep up with IIoT developments without having to make substantial additional hardware investments and can be a real barrier for many enterprises to adopt new technology.

However, brand agnosticism is one of the strengths of integrated software solutions, and enterprises can easily implement them across all their automated devices regardless of origin. By implementing a scalable analytics platform that acts as an overlay on top of their existing production process and harvests the data along each step, companies can transform their physical operations with digital technology and experience increased productivity, heightened plant efficiency, reduced operation risk and better system interoperability.

Functional benefits of scalable analytics platforms are numerous, but one of the key advantages is the ability to build a complete site overview showing the status of assets across the entire production process. A plant manager can then review a single line at a facility to better understand how the process has been running, and add insights to the overview, such as process alerts or the status of a current item being produced.

The advantages of connecting an enterprise’s IIoT applications go beyond providing complex analytics and valuable insights on a single screen. Predictive analytics generated by the united wealth of information picked up by devices across the entire industrial process helps to solve issues before they arise. Visibility into company operations is therefore enhanced with insights that improve how individual users understand and respond to opportunities in real time and empowers them to achieve smarter decision-making.

Letting Data Grow Your Business

As connectivity and computing power continues to spread throughout the industrial enterprises, availability of data has revolutionised how companies solve issues and adapt to changes. Analytics platforms should be able to grow with the businesses they support. After all, enterprises must constantly change in response to their markets, so the digital transformation journey towards process automation is an ongoing one that regularly brings modern technologies into operations.

To make decisions where and when they matter most, companies need to set up the processes enabling them to fully manage their information stream. Business performance data can be a key competitive asset or a wasted resource, and a scalable analytics approach will make all the difference.

Scalable analytics platforms can grow with both the hardware and software ecosystem of an enterprise, and capabilities such as greater flexibility, simple searchability and scalability – work towards the same goal: to make sure the company can unlock the relevant data to solve business challenges as they arise.

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