The importance of digital transformation support

Many manufacturing facilities are taking on digital transformation initiatives, and long-term maintenance and support needs to be prioritized.

By Brian Fenn May 20, 2023
Image courtesy: Brett Sayles

Digital transformation insights

  • Digital transformation initiatives are on the rise in many manufacturing and industrial facilities, but long-term support and maintenance is a key part of the plan.
  • Digital transformation requires engineers to have skills that are more commonly found in information technology (IT) experts, which will continue to be required for people in the operations technology (OT) world.

Digital transformation initiatives are on the rise in many manufacturing and industrial facilities. Often with so much focus on the design and implementation, one success aspect frequently overlooked or forgotten is the long-term support and maintenance. Oftentimes support falls to the individuals or group that traditionally maintain controls assets, whether that’s engineering, maintenance, or a team with a similar background. While these systems have roots in the layer of controls, the support team require an understanding of the new systems and technologies. The underlying skills required to care for these digital data solutions are vastly different.

Understanding where the data is coming from and how to retrieve it are some of the overlapping abilities required. However, digital transformation starts to bring in additional technical requirements such as database connectivity, security and querying, networking, extract, transform and load (ETL) and reporting along with other, different visualization tools. These additional skills are more akin to IT experts and software developers than controls engineers or maintenance technicians. They also are vital in diagnosing and resolving many of the issues that arise.

In addition to technology considerations, there are also different best practices and approaches that need to be considered. Data governance is a very important topic and while it may get created with the initial foray into digital transformation, that governance needs to be understood and evolve as new data and systems are added in. Additionally, storage, retention, security, and accessibility need to be managed and maintained which is outside of the normal boundaries of a controls system.

It’s important to consider long-term support and maintenance before you get too far into the digital transformation journey. If you don’t have the staff internally, know that you are not alone. Many other manufacturers and industrial facilities struggle with supporting these kinds of systems and turn to experts to help with that support. Since these systems are digitally based, they allow for remote troubleshooting and resolution which makes finding the right support partner a little easier.

Avanceon is a CFE Media and Technology content partner.

Original content can be found at Avanceon.

Author Bio: Brian Fenn is vice president of operations, Avanceon