Take a look…
Smart Industry: Who is more dangerous...engineers with keyboards or programmers with screwdrivers.
Dennis: These days I would vote for engineers. The issue is around what we can do vs. what we should do. This metaphysical issue arises in manufacturing when a person goes for the fast, easier solution without thinking through all of the nasty ramifications of what that action can bring. Cybersecurity is the easy area to start with—this is where huge problems can come in by doing things the easy way. Data architecture—defining the data models and schemas of how the data should be represented and stored—is an area that takes a lot of upfront planning, which is often ignored. This can lead to massive rework or failed opportunities.
Smart Industry: What's the most important thing to consider when trying to foster IT/OT convergence?
Dennis: Defining the goal of the solution is paramount. Are we simply trying to control a machine or is it part of a larger process? Understanding OT requirements is key. Focus on what IT can bring to the table, such as cybersecurity knowledge, and how to leverage data outside of the direct-floor system. One of the issues that always comes up is the age of the operating equipment…we have to account for solutions that must work on machines as old as the engineers themselves.
Smart Industry: How does interpersonal collaboration fit into this process?
Dennis: We can’t approach this from a “Thou Shalt” perspective; OT groups don’t usually have to cooperate with IT. Focus on bringing value and the process will work much better.
Smart Industry: How is the cloud enabling greater collaboration among disparate stakeholders?
Dennis: The ability to provision systems quickly is critical to manufacturing. That has always been the Achilles heel for IT—ask for something and wait months. With the cloud, technology can often be provisioned immediately. At Inteva, we’re trying to take full advantage of this. We try to get up to speed on the newer technologies before they are asked for—if we see value and probable application.