Industry Insights & Trends

What are the Trends in IT/OT Convergence Within the Manufacturing Sector?


Five trends in IT/OT convergence within the manufacturing sector are increasing adoption of industrial connectivity, consolidation in the industrial connectivity vendors market, the emergence of new edge-to-cloud architectures, rising adoption of the hybrid data center model, and increasing use of digital twins.

1. Increasing Adoption of Industrial Connectivity

  • More manufacturers are including industrial connectivity to their assets to achieve IT/OT convergence. It is projected by IoT Analytics that by 2020, around 50% of manufacturers’ industrial assets will be connected to some kind of data collection system either remotely or within their premises.
  • The industrial connectivity market is worth $38.2 billion and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 5% until 2024. A key driver of that growth is the continuous rise in the number of connected assets.
  • Industrial connectivity hardware remains the segment with the largest market share in the industrial connectivity market. However, the services and software segments are growing at a faster rate as more manufacturing is carried out using data centers and industrial computers rather than gateways and programmable logic controllers (PLCs).
  • The solutions segment is also expected to grow faster as more manufacturers adopt data collection systems through which data is sent to the cloud directly, bypassing the conventional automation pyramid.
  • A survey conducted by IIoT World in 2017 showed that 77% of manufacturers already had an industrial internet of things (IIoT) solution and 20% were planning to deploy an IIoT solution within the next year. IIoT solutions are used for connecting critical assets, retrieving data, and enhancing factory operations.

2. The Emergence of New Edge-to-cloud Architectures

  • In order to implement “direct edge-to-cloud connectivity” for IT/OT convergence while consolidating and moving the conventional automation pyramid to the cloud, new architectures in industrial connectivity are being introduced.
  • Technological innovations in software, hardware, and connectivity have led to the emergence of connectivity architectures that can bypass conventional automation and achieve “direct edge-to-cloud connectivity“.
  • Manufacturers are creating products to run software applications and implement edge-to-cloud connectivity using inexpensive edge computing technology.

3. Software-Driven Competition in the Industrial Automation Vendors Market

  • Small and medium-sized (SME) industrial automation companies providing IT/OT convergence solutions are better positioned to compete with larger established companies as a result of more robust edge processing, the rising use of Linux solutions, and emerging virtualization technologies.
  • Industrial connectivity hardware is now becoming Linux-based and can run several 3rd party industrial connectivity software.
  • Many manufacturers are now using Linux-based solutions because they can prevent “hardware vendor lock-in and enable more scalable and future-proof architectures”.
  • Therefore, manufacturers can now perform industrial connectivity operations like cloud connectivity, protocol conversion, and process control on one Linux-based hardware through the use of 3rd party software.
  • These capabilities are mostly provided by smaller industrial automation companies.

4. Rising Adoption of the Hybrid Data Center Model

  • As more manufacturers implement cloud-based operations for IT/OT convergence, they are expected to adopt hybrid data centers that would devote on-premises legacy equipment to data collection and storage operations with less customization and a greater level of security and control.
  • This would allow those aspects of their operations that involve continuous adaptation to be migrated to the cloud.
  • This model would lead to a decrease in IT-related costs and enable them to keep using their legacy systems.

5. Increasing Use of Digital Twins

  • The speedy adoption of machines that are IoT-enabled and their integration with OT environments will enable manufacturers to use “digital twins” which are capable of simulating a machine’s physical performance using data that manufacturers can use for managing, monitoring and servicing their machines.
  • It is projected by Gartner that by 2020, 25% of manufacturers’ spending will be diverted from “procure and maintain” contracts to “dynamic service models,” which involves the payment of a recurrent maintenance fee to suppliers to improve up-time in the manufacturing plant.
  • The use of digital twins, coupled with advanced analytics will lead to less uncertainty and guaranteed results, which will enable manufacturers to focus on other areas to enhance productivity.
Glenn is the Lead Operations Research Analyst at Simple Manifestation with experience in research, statistical data analysis and interview techniques. A holder of degree in Economics. A true specialist in quantitative and qualitative research.

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