Why CIO’S Must Better Engage with Engineering Technologists to Leverage Digital Twins

In the post “The Missing T: Why OT & IT Are Not Enough in Manufacturing,” I made the argument that CIOs need to better engage with the engineering community. I postulated CIOs need to elevate engineering technology (ET) to the same prominence as operational technology (OT) and traditional business information technology (IT). The rise of Digital Twins as a critical element in manufacturing and asset-intensive industry digital transformation is dependent on ET, the digital technology used in simulations, digital twins, and design engineering. However, in different industries, the activities of design and operations engineers can vary. Understanding how ET impacts your business in the era of Industry 4.0 is the first step in fully realizing the value of digital transformation to your business.

Different Industries: Different Engineering Profiles
The process of manufacturing an automobile is very different from the process of producing gasoline; an automobile plant is very different from a refinery. So, just as manufacturing operations vary significantly across various industries, so do engineering activities. Engineers are heavily involved in the design process of automobiles and critical to the product’s success. The whole new product introduction (NPI) discipline is considered an ET core competency in discrete manufacturing. Also essential in many discrete manufacturing operations is the concept of design(ing) for manufacturability (DFM), another ET discipline. This spills over into plant design, but in discrete manufacturing, this ET discipline takes a back seat to the other ET roles.

Not so in process manufacturing. For the most part, gasoline is gasoline, copper is copper, or a 2×4 is a 2×4. Not to say, there is no product engineering going on. In petroleum, the formulation of gasoline is engineered to improve its performance using additives, as are lubricants and other hydrocarbon products. Likewise, in the mining and metals industry, different alloying additives can improve performance of the product. In the wood-products sector, there are even engineered wood products such as oriented strand board (OSB). But, unlike automotive manufacturing, to date, products are not regularly being updated and improved. In many process manufacturing operations, more engineering effort is usually placed in the design and operation of the production facilities than the products themselves. In asset-intensive facilities where production operates 24×7, maintenance engineering roles often are the most visible as downtime reduction is critical to profitability and safety.

Most business leaders, including CIOs, recognize these differences. Yet, as noted in the previous post, they still treat most engineering applications as black boxes that merely act as either sources or sinks of information. Without an understanding of just how engineering technology is evolving, and how ET plays a role in that evolution, actual transformation opportunities will be limited.

What is Different with Industry 4.0 and Digital Transformation?
Digital transformation, whether modeled on Industry 4.0 or driven by other factors, depends on embedding digital twins into every aspect of a business. At the heart of every digital twin is a simulation that is inherently ET in manufacturing and asset-intensive industries. CIOs need to understand the types of twins and the transformation opportunities they represent. The following table is a synopsis of just some of the possibilities:

Over the last two weeks, there have been analyst and user group events by PTC, Dassault Systemes, Siemens, AVEVA, and SAP, all prominent players in the ET space. My next post will be about how these companies are positioning themselves vis-à-vis ET and its relationship to digital transformation.

Different Industries: Different Engineering Profiles
The process of manufacturing an automobile is very different from the process of producing gasoline just as an automobile plant is very different from a refinery. So, just as manufacturing operations vary significantly across various industries, too do engineering activities. Engineers are heavily involved in the design process of automobiles and critical to the product’s success. The whole new product introduction (NPI) discipline is considered an ET core competency in discrete manufacturing. Also essential in many discrete manufacturing operations is the concept of design(ing) for manufacturability (DFM), another ET discipline. This spills over into plant design, but in discrete manufacturing, this ET discipline takes a back seat to the other ET roles. Not so in process manufacturing. For the most part, gasoline is gasoline, copper is copper, or a 2×4 is a 2×4. Not to say, there is no product engineering going on. In petroleum, the formulation of gasoline is engineered to improve its performance using additives, as are lubricants and other hydrocarbon products. Likewise, in mining, different alloying additives can improve performance. In the wood-products sector, there are even engineered wood products such as oriented strand board (OSB). But, unlike automotive manufacturing, to date, products are not regularly being updated and improved. More engineering effort is usually placed in the design and operation of the production facilities than the products themselves in many process manufacturing operations. In asset-intensive facilities where production operates 24x7maintenance engineering roles often are the most visible as downtime reduction is critical to profitability and safety.

Most business leaders, including CIOs, recognize these differences. Yet, as noted in the previous post, they still treat most engineering applications as black boxes that merely act as either sources or sinks of information. Without an understanding of just how engineering technology is evolving, actual transformation opportunities will be limited.

What is Different with Industry 4.0 and Digital Transformation?
Digital transformation, whether modeled on Industry 4.0 or driven by other factors, will depend on embedding digital twins into every aspect of a business. At the heart of every digital twin is a simulation that is inherently ET in manufacturing and asset-intensive industries. CIOs need to understand the types of twins and the transformation opportunities they represent. The following table is a synopsis of just a few possibilities:

Over the last two weeks, there have been analyst and user group events by PTC, Dassault Systemes, Siemens, AVEVA, and SAP, all prominent players in the ET space. My next post will be about how these companies are positioning themselves vis-à-vis ET and its relationship to digital transformation.

Disclosure

The views and opinions in this analysis are my own and do not represent positions or opinions of The Analyst Syndicate. Read more on the Disclosure Policy.