5 most critical to-dos for future-proofing your industrial operations

Schneider Electric
Wednesday, 01 September, 2021

Everyone needs to future-proof their industrial operations

This ensures they can adapt to disruptions and quickly integrate new technologies when the opportunity arises. But if you seek operational success for the future, then your first step should be building the right foundation in the present. Doing so requires increasing your operational agility, improving asset reliability, and finding ways to drive sustainable growth through efficiency gains.

All of which is easier said than done and even knowing where to begin can feel a little daunting.

Never fear. We’ve listed the five most critical ways to future-proof your industrial operations. Each “to-do” on this list will help you acquire the skills and capabilities you need to achieve and maintain operational excellence for years to come. Read on to learn how you can enable new ways of working and collaborating, make smarter decisions through analytics, and put the complete visibility of your operations and asset management at your fingertips for reduced complexity.

  1. Improve Asset Performance

Maximising uptime. Reducing costs. Delivering high-quality products. These are the necessary traits of a future-proof organisation — and they require optimised management of enterprise assets throughout their lifecycles.

To improve your asset performance, look to adopt an operations and asset management platform that can help you predict and improve asset reliability. One that gives you the asset performance insights needed to proactively respond to anomalies, versus reactively.

When it comes to improving asset performance — or, for that matter, achieving any of the other critical to-dos on this list — look for an operations and asset management platform with artificial intelligence (AI) and robust analytics capabilities. Otherwise, you will have a tool that forces you to react to issues only after they’ve happened, as opposed to a solution that gives you the ability to take proactive measures before problems ever occur.

For the record, many industrial companies try to maintain and utilise both an industrial operations platform and a separate asset management platform. But relying on multiple platforms only increases complexity and makes achieving the goal of future-proofing your industrial operations all the more difficult. Instead, we recommend a single platform for operations and asset management. By combining your operations and asset technologies together in a single solution, you can then simplify and streamline industrial and logistical complexities.

Specifically, look for a platform capable of predictive analytics, user-friendly data cleansing, model training, fault analysis and diagnostics, and prescriptive actions. These advanced analytics functionalities will go a long way towards helping you maximise the life of aging assets and reduce maintenance costs.

  1. Maximise operational performance

Operational performance is all about finding efficiencies. It only makes sense that your platform should deliver the capabilities to identify all opportunities where efficiencies can be gained.

To that end, you need to adopt a platform that simplifies Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) monitoring by allowing you to check KPIs in real-time. Your platform should also make it easy to identify bottlenecks and quality loss, so that you can minimise unplanned downtime and increase overall process performance.

These are all things that can be accomplished with an operations and asset management platform. And whatever platform you consider now or in the future, make sure it gives you greater insight into asset-level risk, maintenance costs and asset utilisation. It is only with these kinds of granular insights that you will you be able to maximise operational performance and set the stage for future-proofing your operations.

  1. Enable Digital Ways of Working

It’s a safe bet to say that your facilities are capturing more real-time information and storing more data from more sources than ever: HMIs, supervisory and control systems, Historians, MES, Edge devices, industrial internet of things, and others. And not only is this data being captured in different environments and stored in all kinds of formats, but the people who need access to that data are working literally everywhere — from home, the office, and on site.

You and your teams need to be able to trust that data — and also trust that it will be securely available anywhere and anytime. That everyone, regardless of where they are, can look at data in real-time to make better, faster decisions. For this to happen, look for a platform that easily unlocks siloed data and makes it universally accessible to people for advanced analytics and insights.

A platform best suited to do so is one that is cloud-based, meaning it can live above your other environments and consolidate critical data that it can then make readily available for real-time monitoring and analysis. This also fosters seamless collaboration across and between teams because the platform can then serve as a single source of truth. Collaborators will be on the same page regardless of where or how they are working, whether they are on site or remote — or using a desktop, tablet, or mobile device.

Once you and your teams have access to the same information and insights, you will have the ability to do things like identify anomalies in advance, quickly spot bottlenecks in production, detect quality loss, and minimise unplanned downtime.

  1. Address the labour shortage

Whenever a skilled worker leaves the organisation or retires, any valuable knowledge they have about the inner workings of your daily operations goes with them.

By 2024, a quarter of the U.S. workforce will be over the age of 55, with one-third of that group aged 65 or older. And, according to data from the European Labor Force Survey, workers aged 55+ currently make up for 16% of the total workforce in the European Union. In countries like Germany, Finland, and Sweden (among others) the number of mature workers is already close to one in five. That makes it imperative you find ways to attract, onboard, train and retain the next-generation workforce. Doing so ensures skilled positions are filled and that the knowledge gap between outgoing and incoming workers is closed, if not altogether eliminated.

We suggest looking for a platform with an extensive and detailed asset library. This kind of feature houses information that can solve for any knowledge gaps between workforces, providing validated remediation to the known causes behind failures. In turn, this will enable incoming workers to solve issues faster, minimise unplanned downtime and increase safety. It also simplifies onboarding and training through the efficient sharing of intimate knowledge regarding your specific equipment and operations.

Additionally, look for a platform that simplifies data access through natural language search functionality. This way, workers can easily search and find relevant information themselves without having to be an engineer.

  1. Keep up With Constantly Evolving Technology

Of course, a key characteristic of being a future-proof organisation is flexibility. Whenever new technology comes along — and it is always only a matter of time before it does — you have to be able to integrate that technology easily and quickly. And that means doing so without disrupting your operations, inflating costs in the process, or adding a greater burden to your IT department.

This is another benefit to investing in a cloud-based operations and asset management platform. With a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) subscription model, you remove the need for additional investment in hardware servers and software. Plus, you remove the burden of updating and maintaining your software systems.

With SaaS, you can scale your technology vertically and horizontally with ease. And that’s because the implementation of industrial sensors, mobile devices, and resource-intensive advanced analytics are no longer restricted to your on-premises or privately managed resources. A flexible subscription approach also means that the latest platform version will always be securely available in the cloud, with no requirement for you to manage updates, patches or hardware.

Final thoughts on future-proofing your industrial operations

If future-proofing your industrial operations is what you are after, then these are the five critical to-dos you should address. But if you have not already noticed, they all have something in common: improving asset performance, maximizing operational performance, enabling digital workforces, and addressing the labour shortage can all be achieved by adopting and implementing a cloud-based operations and asset management platform.

AVEVA Insight is a cloud-based operations and asset management platform that gives you complete visibility of your operations and asset performance. It is the fastest and simplest way to increase your operational agility and resilience while driving sustainable growth. It is the platform you need to truly future-proof your industrial operations.

Learn more about how AVEVA Insight unlocks critical data, increases collaboration, improves asset reliability, and drives operational performance.

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