Research Shows Disconnect Between IT And OT

July 27, 2020
New survey reveals that IT/OT collaboration is a priority for manufacturers.

Global software developer Eschbach announces new research findings for process industry manufacturers that reportedly show IT and OT collaboration using a plant process management (PPM) offering has become an investment priority. The survey, sponsored by Eschbach, was conducted by 451 Research, part of S&P Global Market Intelligence.

“In the drive toward the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) over the past few years, the greatest focus has been on instrumenting machinery,” says Andreas Eschbach, CEO of Eschbach.  “Due to IIoT ignoring human factors, now comes a realization that collaboration between humans and machines must become a priority, particularly in shift management. Industrial enterprises need to equip the people tasked with using and managing machinery in the overall process so that they optimize plant operations and ensure worker safety.”

Worker safety and process optimization are cited as key issues with 86% of respondents relaying that one or more safety incidents are caused by a communications breakdown. In addition, more than half of the respondents reportedly say that process optimization using shift data makes a big difference. Almost 60% of industry decision makers prefer centralized software-as-a-service (SaaS) model with varying degrees of customization. PPM is seen as an important data source for artificial intelligence (AI), according to 56% of survey respondents, who also indicated they are using or planning to use PPM data as an input to AI, according to Eschbach. 

“Our survey found clear disconnects between IT and OT, with nearly half of OT respondents indicating that they rarely work together with their IT counterparts. Meanwhile, less than 20% of IT leaders believe they cooperate closely with OT,” says Ian Hughes, senior analyst for the Internet of Things practice at 451 Research. “These groups have different perspectives on the core challenge in shift management. IT views the inability to consume or share captured data as the main issue, while OT cites the inability to reconcile shift data with machine logs.”

The survey reveals that with shift handovers communication is critical as to what data (if any) is captured to aid in the handover as well as how it is distributed to operational stakeholders.  Shift handovers have become particularly vital due to social distancing as well as COVID-19, often requiring IT/OT staff to work remotely while essential employees remain in the plant. Only about 40% of survey respondents reportedly cite they use software or automation to capture and share shift data. The remainder surveyed confided they routinely capture data manually, sometimes driven by certain events or shift-by-shift.  While 38% indicated a manual but ad hoc capturing of data, either event-by-event or shift-by-shift, according to Eschbach.

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