I recently met with colleagues from other industries. During our discussion, we compared our data access. Those of us who work for companies with digital mindsets already have some digital access to field data, but most only receive basic information.
Even though we have different situations, we have similar points regarding enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems and SAP Asset Intelligence Networks (AINs). They all use these systems to open requests for things like maintenance and calibration. But none of them had their field sensors integrated with their systems for transparent data exchange.
Today we’ll discuss Master Data Integration (MDI) for OT (operational technology) clouds, where we store our field data, and IT clouds, where we collect our asset data from machinery, equipment, sensors and such. We’ll learn how data exchange can enrich your ecosystem, helping you make better decisions anywhere in the plant.
Ready? Let’s dive into the technical stuff.
The convergence of OT and IT
OT supports plant operation and equipment management. IT secures the integrity and availability of information systems. Digitalization means that OT and IT need to exchange data to improve problem identification and increase plant efficiency.
A short time ago, OT had no digital communication and sometimes had field networks with entirely different requirements than what you had for IT. Today, OT has components such as field sensors, actuators, and monitors working with Ethernet-based protocols like HART/IP and wireless.
We also have a lot more standardization in control facilities and the field to integrate and exchange data between OT and IT. But new discussions have come up, such as how to collect the data from OT and send it to the cloud securely without creating interference in the field.
NAMUR Open Architecture
OT runs critical operations that can affect production and create dangerous accidents. To reduce data exposure, NAMUR Open Architecture (NOA) helps to migrate data from the OT level to the control system in only one direction, using a data diode.
The data diode allows direct communication from smart field sensors to the cloud without effecting process operation. All the data in the OT cloud combined with the IT data can help you make better decisions faster in different situations.
What kind of information can OT and IT clouds exchange?
Let’s have an example. Say you’re a field engineer. During maintenance planning, you receive orders, but you have to execute them manually, because most of your field devices don’t have data available on the same system.
If you have info in the system, someone else uploaded it manually, which means it may be updated every week or so and may have errors. These gaps in information limit you, making it difficult to find the right documentation and history of your devices.
Basically, you can integrate an OT cloud, such as Netilion, into a SAP AIN with Master Data Integration, a project-based service to automatically exchange relevant data on installed bases and documentation between clouds.
Now you can have all your device information, documentation, certificates, and reports to make good decisions quickly. All those hours wasted in searching, downloading, organizing and uploading information can become a thing of the past.
When you open a new maintenance request in the system using the data from the OT cloud, such as Netilion, you can see the equipment's criticality, check its history, and access all its previous certifications.
How to integrate an OT cloud into an IT cloud
Integrating two essential cloud services isn’t plug-and-play yet, but it still follows a straightforward concept. Usually, it’s a project-based subscription to connect both clouds.
But before you integrate, you need to collect and understand all the data. Companies such as Endress+Hauser offer a specialized service for an Installed Base Audit (IBA). This service can get you started on integrating your clouds.
During the audit, experts will analyze the master database, then integrate the data with the OT cloud. They’ll also handle the API and integration between OT and IT.
At the end of the audit, you’ll have access to all your information. You’ll also get automatic updates to minimize time wasted and reduce uninformed and misinformed decisions.
Project-based services like as Master Data Integration from Endress+Hauser are a simple step into the digital world, providing you with updated, accurate information to make your decisions easier and faster than ever.
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Stay safe and have a good one!