• Karonn Blue, P.E., PMP

BIG Journeys Begin with Small Steps

It can be complicated and overwhelming as your company begins to digitalize.

Here four simple ideas to start with as you transform your industrial facilities:

1. Develop a Conceptual Roadmap

Take the time to plan and clearly define the problems you are attempting to solve in each are of your digitalization journey. However, avoid developing a bulletproof plan that cannot be altered or adjusted. In fact, plan to fail. Yes, you read that right. Make plans for failure, because breakdowns or crashes are inevitable when building or integrating a brand-new platform. Once you have a functioning design in place that clearly solves your problem, write a one-page business case clearly articulating the ROI (Return of Investment). This will enable you to sell it across the organization for more funding. Most managers will appreciate having real, objectionable data to base budgeting decisions on that reflect a true account of successes, failures and risks.

2. Find the problem spots

When looking for areas in which to deploy new cloud-based tools such as advanced analytics and machine learning, select one of the most troubling areas of your Plant and begin with a small trial case. Trial cases help you “prove value.” One of the core questions that should be answered in this stage is “what problems if solved, give me the highest return on my investments.” Sophisticated software and tools must solve a problem at scale or else you are wasting everyone’s time.

3. Build an open source sandbox to test

When crafting your custom solution, stay away from proprietary platforms that lock you into their frameworks. You will need the flexibility to change platforms as your plan develops. Outlaying lots of cash on proprietary software early in the project is not how you want to spend valuable resources. Many times, parts of the code have already been developed in ecosystems like Github and SourceForge. You want a tool that can be customized to your needs.

4. Design in Cybersecurity

There is no better time than in the conceptual stage to begin considering cybersecurity. With proper planning, you will help ensure your industrial environments maintain a cyber secure posture, even with new systems being integrated. Remember, cybersecurity tools are always evolving because the threats are in constant change. Build flexibility into your networks and architecture so you are able to leverage the latest tools to minimize risks. Having a plan for cybersecurity on the front end of digitalization will also minimize delays caused by Compliance reviews which are generally needed before solutions are rolled out to the enterprise.

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