The term “digitalization” (or the phrase “digital transformation”) has different meaning as applied to different industries. For production facilities, even before the onset of the “digitalization” revolution, the automation segment drove the adoption of advanced technologies. Today, the automation segment naturally finds itself at the center of the whole discussion.

The last decade has seen several industries make significant progress in utilizing digital technologies to grow more efficient and cost-effective. Depending on the industry, however-and to a certain extent, the personnel and the entities involved in project development-digitalization is looked at in far different ways.

Of course, the methods and technologies employed for implementing digitalization will significantly depend on an organization’s end goal. For an engineering professional or a program manager who is setting out digitalization strategies for a new project, it can be challenging to define focus areas from the wide spectrum of topics covered by digitalization. The key is to understand where the organization currently stands in terms of three core areas of digitalization, and then define where the organization wants to be in the near future.

Core Areas

Systems and Processes

From these definitions, one can see the vast potential for digitalization in these areas. Every organization has their own systems and processes that help it run efficiently. Digitalizing these systems and processes offer immense opportunities for automating tasks while ensuring compliance. Digitalizing operational requirements also creates opportunities for collection, storage, and instant transfer of data over networks to support archiving data and analyzing it for continuous improvement.

Production Automation and Communications

The disciplines’ influence is demonstrated by the fact that a majority of production facility projects have digitalization strategies built around them, irrespective of the industry or the organizational culture. For an enhanced digitalization project, the automation segment helps extend the way process data is measured, controlled, recorded, and analyzed. The data collection and computing capabilities of sensor technologies, controller hardware, safe and enhanced data communication methods, and the efficient storage and computation of data help build advanced monitoring and control algorithms suited to each particular industry.

Data Analytics

All branches of data analytics-descriptive, predictive, and prescriptive technologies-are used in developing models and solutions that suit the industry and the unique aspirations of the organization. Artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies help further the utilization of data and deployment of solutions throughout the organization.

Challenges

Conclusion

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About the Author

Originally published at https://blog.isa.org.

The International Society of Automation (isa.org) is a non-profit professional association founded in 1945 to create a better world through automation.