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The power of four: Digitization, automation, sustainability and data

Feb. 9, 2021
Be bold, reflect and evolve.

By Craig Hayman, AVEVA CEO 

Technology has become deeply embedded in almost every facet of modern-day life and plays an intrinsic role for many businesses across the globe. Digital transformation is enabling organizations, particularly in the industrial sector, to enhance their capabilities and increase their returns across their assets and operations. The use of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) through real-time analytics has had a profound impact, by improving response times to potential issues and minimizing possible damage to the environment, which has resulted in the avoidance of costly unscheduled shutdowns, while improving profits.

All of which points to four major trends emerging in 2021.

Digital capabilities strengthen resiliency

Across industries, business leaders are turning to technologies such as AI and 3D-modeling to understand their production processes and plans. To adjust to an environment where the supply of raw materials is volatile and demand for end products is focussed on the essentials, businesses must understand their production facilities better than ever before.

The current crisis is also accelerating the use of cloud and data in increasingly sophisticated ways to provide visibility and certainty into operations. There has also been a fundamental shift in mindset: customers now understand where they need to get to and how quickly they need to get there. In an age where time is progressively of the essence, an increased focus on digital transformation and data-driven insights will be a game changer.  

Automation will pick up pace 

According to Gartner, “By the end of 2024, 75% of enterprises will shift from piloting to operationalizing AI, driving a 5x increase in streaming data and analytics infrastructures.” Boosting augmented data-management systems with AI will help to optimize and improve operations. We will also see AI applications increasingly being supported by devices and sensors connected through the IIoT. Furthering this automation, AI uses the historical IoT data to analyze trends, which can help in streamlining and improving the supply chain process through cutting-edge solutions such as AI-driven operations scheduling.  

Sustainability will be embedded within businesses 

Sustainability is a journey begun by measuring where organizations are. Digitization is the natural first step for a fact-based approach; this data allows complex businesses to develop a meaningful strategy and execute it on the ground. Industry 4.0 will help to bring information together to build a digital twin that allows organizations to optimize sustainable processes. Industrial development is crucial for economic growth, eradicating poverty and employment creation. However, increasing resource-use efficiency and enhancing technological innovation offers real opportunities to reduce costs, increase competitiveness and employment. The industrial sector, although late to the digital-transformation process, has a unique opportunity to lead the way in making a significant impact to the planet. 

A good example here is Henkel, a manufacturer that produces brands like washing liquid Persil. To support their customers and align with their sustainability commitments, Henkel built an AVEVA digital backbone that connects their global operations in the cloud; that’s 3,500 sensors in each site providing 1.5 billion data points to meet fluctuating demand while reducing energy usage. To date, they have reduced their environmental footprint by one third by using less energy, less water and producing less waste. 

Data repositories will acquire memory

Data acts as a source of truth that helps teams focus on the critical factors that determine business resilience. Businesses are acutely aware that they must become more resilient by using technology. Companies are using IIoT to their advantage to securely connect while collecting data from diverse remote assets, channelling information to advanced operational applications, and closing the loop by feeding key business applications. This helps to enable optimization, asset management, enhanced analytics, and modeling/simulation—and this ultimately means improvements in business efficiency across the entire operations. 

Be bold, reflect and evolve

With the right technology, businesses can be incredibly agile to manage costs, boost efficiency and avoid costly mistakes. The combination of digitization, automation and data-driven insights, with a focus on sustainable business, can be a key differentiator and a propelling force to help ensure businesses meet their goals of today and tomorrow.