A System Integrator’s View of Digital Transformation

April 3, 2023

As the leader of Avanceon’s Digital Transformation (DX) practice, I have a long history of solving problems within the OT (operations technology) and IT layers of automation. This experience has provided significant perspective and a forward-looking view of where the future of industry’s digital transformation is heading.

Observing the changes technology has brought—and continues to bring to our lives—it’s clear that humans will continue to harness efficient energy, create smart cities, manage health risks, and make transportation more efficient and provide easier access to it. Through the digital transformation, we are changing the way we all interact with technology and are heading toward a new world.  

Similarly, the industrial world is moving through a digital transformation. No longer can one simply focus on putting a product out the door. We now have the technology to predict and prevent problems, improve the overall system approach, strategize how to manage production costs and lessen waste. Ultimately, the digital transformation is about knowing rather than guessing.  

One of my biggest concerns about the digital transformation is that it’s often underutilized or incomplete. Most companies focus on upgrading and, once the project or program is complete, promptly forget about the human element of adoption. Frequently, this critical part is overlooked or not fully leveraged, allowing the new system to become forgotten. As a result, the true value of a new upgrade is lost.

That’s why it’s imperative to educate and properly support the people in the organization after the transformation to ensure the facility truly understands what the new process entails and the possibilities it exposes.  

In addition to the factors noted above, the phrase “digital transformation” can mean different things to different people. For example, it can be a small process change on the plant floor or something as large as a full-scale multi-manufacturing facility upgrade. Regardless, the actual transformation is approached with similar tenants and milestones. The missed step in many programs involves tying the project, regardless of its size, to the overall transformation plan.  

For these reasons, it is best practice to work with an experienced DX implementation partner at the planning and requirement phase of a project. If engaged early in the process, the partner can provide insight, coaching, direction and risk management techniques to ensure you can realize your full DX potential.

Throughout the process, the partner coaches and educates the customer about their newly installed technology platforms, shows them how it operates and ensures they fully understand and adopt its capabilities.  

Regardless of the phase of your DX journey, you should fully commit to the effort because the potential for operational improvement it offers is limitless. Many manufacturers are adopting digital operations for the competitive advantage it adds to their business. As daunting as it may seem, it’s important to realize that those steps don’t have to be difficult. Working with an experienced partner is a great way to get the ball rolling and ease the process of your digital transformation.

Bruce Slusser is operations manager at Avanceon, a certified member of the Control System Integrators Association (CSIA). For more information about Avanceon, visit its profile on the CSIA Industrial Automation Exchange

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