As our smart phones, laptops, and smart home devices continue to evolve at a rapid rate, the questions around how so much data will continue to be processed continues to float around the web.
Industrial engineers continue to show their value and genius with their uncanny ability to seamlessly merge the masses of data from the IT world into the pragmatic applications needed in the Operational Technology (OT) space.
Leading this front are control systems engineers - Our real-life expert integrators with the role of blend together the digital world of IT with the practical world of OT while keeping up with the latest technological trends.
Some of the most important questions regarding the future of the OT space include:
- Which skillsets or technology will be necessary for future OT engineers?
- What are the most important and popular technologies used by OT engineers currently?
- What current challenges will be mitigated by evolving OT technology?
Given their experience and expertise in this area, these integrators have some intriguing views on what the future of control systems engineering will look like.
The Current OT Environment
The challenges of the present day OT engineer harbor striking similarities to other industries around the world: technological barriers, poor communication, budgets, and timelines.
Yet, specifically regarding data integration and SCADA issues there are some specific issues that continue to arise and many engineers are hopeful that the future will bear solutions.
Outdated and Limited Operating Systems
An overarching theme in the SCADA space is the limited number of systems that can be utilized or the software that could be accessed is locked down tight due to proprietary knowledge and algorithms.
This poses huge problems down the line as engineers seek to integrate software due to incompatibility.
This is great "problem" for those software vendors that have backed their clients into a corner with few other options in the market, but a horrible problem for the organizations simply looking to streamline their production and integrate valuable systems.
Flawed Data Integration And Storage
Currently, many SCADA systems house their data in expensive and specialized process historians.
Not only can this seem archaic in today's booming and innovative IT climate, but the cost and hindered sharing capabilities of this type of storage crushes productivity.
The good news is that is organizations have a worthy and trusted SCADA system expert to guide their processes, they can find and utilize the appropriate SQL databases to accurately and efficiently log, share, and analyze their historical data.
The Future of OT Innovation
Okay, enough of the current Flintstone technology. What are future OT engineers supposed to yabba dabba do about it?
Below are the areas that leading engineers are leaning heavily on as they continue to shape the Operational Technology landscape.
MQTT is an extremely versatile messaging protocol for environments where bandwidth and power need to be rationed wisely.
In some of our own MQTT implementation for TIGA customers, we have seen up to a 90% reduction in bandwidth when tying into an existing qualified Ignition software.
As MQTT technology continues to improve, the future efficiency looks extremely bright for end users and their customers.
Continued Innovation of Mobile Devices and Virtual Software
We all know how important our smart phones are to our daily lives and productivity, but utilizing the same innovations in mobile technology along with the ability to access cloud based computing for industrial automation needs has many OT engineers anxiously awaiting new applications for this type of technology.
Currently, and even more so in the near future, organizations are more empowered to utilize all of their existing mobile interfaces and really leverage their automation protocols and systems to arrive at smarter decisions at a much faster rate.
Stronger Data Security
With more work being done on the cloud, that opens up more risk for data breaches and security issues.
With the increased necessity for better security, IT has had to step up their game by tying in more stringent access to data such as more frequent auditing and several layers of authentication.
MQTT also plays a role in innovative security as well. Due to it's existing security and connection stability, it provides an extremely safe environment for organization data transfer.
Accessing Futuristic Automation
The good news is that companies don't have to wait for these types of technologies to come to fruition or to be created.
They exist now. Innovative OT engineers are currently implementing this type of automation, communication, and security in current industrial settings.