It’s exciting to think about the possibilities being enabled by advanced digital technologies: Smart Plants, semi-autonomous systems and industrial facilities that are more autonomously optimized from design through operations and maintenance — just to name a few. Artificial intelligence, machine learning, cloud computing and other technologies have paved the way for transformation in the process industries and other asset-intensive sectors.
But before we get caught up in areas that promise a clear road to operational excellence, it’s important to remember what lies at the heart of all of this: data. Specifically, we are talking about the mountains of data that industrial operations generate every day (and that the process industries have been collecting for decades). If you don’t get a handle on your data and what it’s trying to tell you, you’re not going to get far in any sort of digital transformation.
Many companies cite lack of expertise as the top barrier to adopting analytics, and a significant percentage have no data scientist personnel in the organization. Given this, many companies wonder about where to start.
Low-touch machine learning has emerged as one currently available solution to address this concern. Today’s agile and flexible software can learn and adapt to actual conditions, so systems can autonomously detect and flag problematic conditions based on historical data and past failures.
Armed with this data and the AI-powered software to analyze it, organizations can not only monitor their equipment and predict performance, but they can also do things like calculate exactly how much runtime their critical equipment has left. This can save millions in avoided costs, while at the same time improving safety and environmental performance.
The statistics show that many digital transformations will, in fact, fail. But you can flip the odds in favor of success if you start by examining the key building block — data — and determining exactly where in the enterprise you want to apply advanced data analysis. With a focused effort and a clear understanding of how to manage your data, you’re off on the right foot and starting your journey to operational excellence.
So, while it can seem a little intimidating to wade into these massive amounts of data, and you might feel like you’re faced with the task of “boiling the ocean” in order to get significant results, the good news is you don’t have to in order to start showing value. With the right technology, you can launch a targeted machine learning program that focuses on a specific business problem, and from there you can figure out how these capabilities apply to your needs across the enterprise.
Learn how harnessing the power of data can help you achieve operational excellence in the recent executive brief Digital Acceleration Opens a New Frontier of Value Creation.