Big Data is a much bandied term, without a clear understanding
Published on : Tuesday 07-12-2021
PV Sivaram, Evangelist for Digital Transformation and Industrial Automation.
Is the process industry slower in adopting digital transformation compared to discrete manufacturing?
Digital transformation is a fairly well understood term these days. It has taken root in many industries. However, different functions in an organisation have been moving on at different speeds. Similarly, the speed of adoption is observed to be strongly dependant on the size of the organisation.
Particularly when we want to talk about process industry, the variation across segments is very large. Traditionally, process industries do have many factors in their favour. The degree of instrumentation in a process plant is high. This comes from a reason that these plants have always needed automatic controls, even before the advent of electronics. Where there is instrumentation, there is data. Data is the primary requirement for digitalisation.
Looking at it in another manner, automation is the front and centre core component of Industrial Revolution 3.0. This is firmly in place in most process plants. Thus, the prerequisites of digital transformation are very much present.
The desired outcome of digitalisation – to achieve higher efficiency in manufacturing by tight process control, reduction of wastage, improvement in OEE – these are already well entrenched, and therefore not a novelty for a process industry. Digitalisation can best help them in getting more customer centricity. The approach here is quite common to all industries, and therefore there is not such a big contrast between continuous process industry and discrete manufacturing.
With Big Data and analytics in the IIoT era, is the traditional Data Historian becoming history? Is this a smooth transition?
Big Data is a much bandied term, without a clear understanding. Big data is not just a lot of data. It is more about how this data is stored, how it is retrieved, and for what purpose it is used. Data Historian serves a specific purpose in traditional control of process plants. Big Data is not aimed at such purpose. Therefore, the management of process plants might wish to use the Historian and the Big Data engines for their purposes. Historical data such as trend values could also be stored on the Cloud if it makes economic sense, and a use-case can be made out for the same.
For achieving operational excellence, one good method is to run simulation studies of the process. In the context of process plants, this simulation is part of a design validation process. In a plant of serious size, such studies are mandatory even in the planning and design phase.
How effective is a digital twin in process automation vis-à-vis discrete manufacturing? Is the process industry making use of digital twin technology?
Digital twin is more misused term than Big Data. Depending on the context it can mean a simple model consisting of transfer functions and chemical or biological equations. It could extend to a good and close approximation to the functionality, with assumptions about materials and process parameters. It could give possibility to run different what-if scenarios. Surely for products which are still in experimental design phase, etc., digital twin in one of the above forms could be useful.
PV Sivaram, Evangelist for Digital Transformation and Industrial Automation, is mentor and member of steering committee at C4i4. He retired as the Non-Executive Chairman of B&R Industrial Automation and earlier the Managing Director. He is a past President of the Automation Industries Association (AIA). After his graduation in Electronics Engineering from IIT-Madras in 1976, Sivaram began his career at BARC. He shifted to Siemens Ltd and has considerable experience in Distributed Systems, SCADA, DCS, and microcontroller applications.
Sivaram believes strongly that digitalisation and adoption of the technology and practices of Industry4.0 is essential for MSME of India. He works to bring these concepts clearer to the people for whom it is important. He believes SAMARTH UDYOG is nearer to the needs of India, and we must strike our own path to Digital Transformation. Foremost task ahead is to prepare people for living in a digital world. He is convinced that the new technologies need to be explored and driven into shop floor applications by young people. We need a set of people to work as Digital Champions in every organisation.