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A(nalog) to D(igital), Part 2: From Concept to Creation – The Making of a Digital Factory

October 2019 Blog Post

In our last post, “From A(nalog) to D(igital) in 4 steps!” we discussed four common objectives of companies on their journey to digital transformation.

So, how does an organization get from concept to a full digital replica of their operation? What are the tangible steps to create a true digital factory that brings the ROI that companies desire in order to remain competitive – one that creates actionable insight, significantly reduces downtime, dramatically improves plant productivity and efficiency, and averts problems before they happen?

To create a true digital factory that reaps these benefits, a manufacturing enterprise needs to simply:

1 – Connect its machines, devices, and sensors 
2 – Collect and orchestrate all streaming data from these sensors in real time
3 – Bring that data to an edge location (an edge device or gateway) 
4 – Filter large volumes of data, apply some rules and selectively take action, if needed
5 – Create and monitor a digital twin that simulates the real factory environment

A Smart IoT Gateway

One of the key pieces in a digital factory is a Smart IoT Gateway that sits between devices, operators and the cloud. Its job is to securely collect, analyze and act on the raw data from its connected sensors and devices. An effective Smart IoT Gateway will provide the capability to readily connect all sort of machines (old and new, different brands and protocols via PLCs), collect the streaming data to be consumed and utilized, and act as a filtering mechanism, performing a quick diagnostic or predictive analysis.  It should be smart enough to apply rules, take required action if needed, and send the required data to the application in the cloud.

An Operational Digital Twin

A digital twin is another essential element. By creating a digital twin, a manufacturer can simulate the real factory environment so management can visualize and monitor everything holistically, plan the details, prevent problems, close the loop and optimize the system. The goal is to replicate every single process for a complete digital model of the factory.

With an Operational Digital Twin, an enterprise can recreate complex processes, visualize an entire factory’s operations, apply business rules, algorithms or analytics to support human decisions or automate decision making.  It also adapts to new ways of working, obtains real-time updates, applies MES and/or other solutions as needed, and delivers the toughest, most complex jobs effectively and efficiently. The Operational Digital Twin is key to gaining competitive advantage and generating better business results.

Operational Intelligence for Better Outcomes

With the right tools and resources in place, you can achieve a complete end-to-end solution for your manufacturing enterprise, with full capability to transform a factory floor into a true digital factory: connecting all its moving parts, gathering the data, analyzing it, gaining a holistic view of the factory through a digital twin, obtaining real-time business intelligence from across the operational footprint, and enabling better decisions and a more efficient enterprise.  The net effect? An on-demand digital version of your operation, providing your manufacturing enterprise with a holistic view of the floor operation, its efficiency and effectiveness, and capable of monitoring, diagnostics, reducing downtime and increasing profit margin.

What experiences or insights can you add? Where is your organization on the journey to creating a digital factory?

Decisyon Smart Gateway is a unique piece of edge software technology that goes far beyond the concept of a digital twin representation of assets. It provides an integrated view of production as a whole, allowing the creation of an Operational Digital Twin as close as possible to the production line, and ensuring bi-directional data integration using any protocol. 

Let one of our IIoT experts help you optimize your organization’s Digital Transformation