Friday, May 13, 2022

The Universal Translator – The Foundation of Digital Transformation

Posted by Tanya Pelletier

A Story Told by Dell, Insight, Intel, Kepware, and Wachter 

What is a Universal Translator? In sci-fi movies and TV shows, it’s a device that can instantly translate any language to enable aliens across many worlds to communicate. In many ways, that’s analogous to a manufacturing floor – where hundreds, if not thousands of “alien” components are all speaking countless different languages!

Factory floors are extremely heterogeneous environments, with machines, automation equipment, and sensors from a variety of different vendors, all using different interfaces and operating on standard protocols that are anything but standard.

This creates a massive problem for manufacturers wanting to embrace digital transformation, which requires us to eliminate the operational and data siloes of the past and enable truly standardized communication across all operational technologies. 

We have seen connectivity, communications, and data acquisition issues completely derail entire digital transformation projects, with developers spending months struggling just to get devices connected and data extracted before they could even try to realize transformation efforts. We’ve also seen examples of companies with teams of developers working for three years on DIY connectivity, only to achieve limited results.

Engineers often use a hodge-podge of tools to connect factory components – such as the connectivity applications built into MES or SCADA systems, custom-built solutions, or other third-party solutions – with limited libraries of ready-to-connect assets. This generally results in key information being left out of these systems, and key information still being siloed and prevents fast, optimized, automated decision-making. 

It means engineers must either leave key data sources out of control and automation loops or spend many hours building these library elements on their own. An engineer or data scientist looking to aggregate data from multiple plants is forced to wrestle multiple systems of systems just to get the data they need before they can even start using it. Obviously, these methods do not produce real-time, actionable insights and control. 

The complexity often grows exponentially when you consider that disparate tools are often deployed across multiple lines or sites. The tedious, time-consuming nature of the task naturally makes engineers wonder if the only feasible solution is to rip and replace existing systems and devices – which involves enormous capital expense and has a significant impact on production – leaving engineers with seemingly impossible choices.

Determining which infinitely impractical choice is best is why many digital transformation projects get derailed. We refer to this as Industrial IoT Pilot Purgatory – when a manufacturer spends all their time fighting to get a single pilot up and running, only to discover location or stage.


The Universal Translator delivers standardized connectivity

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Kepware operates at an Enterprise level, giving you a fast, simple path that eliminates the need for rip and replace. Using Kepware’s universal translation, delivered on powerful, open, Intel® Architecture, engineers can now easily connect both existing and new equipment and assets without interrupting operations. By standardizing data access, the solution can be scaled across lines and sites with ease.  Kepware’s universal translator de-siloes your data to streamline AI and analytics.

Four powerhouse partners – Dell Technologies, Insight, Wachter, and Intel – have seamlessly integrated and validated the top-to-bottom architecture needed to greatly simplify deployment and accelerate time to value.


What are the components of this deployment-ready platform? 

Starting with enterprise grade, trusted infrastructure from Dell Technologies Edge portfolio, including the Dell Technologies Edge Gateway and the validated solution for PTC, manufacturers accelerate their digital transformation to smart manufacturing using a secure, scalable, and interoperable edge solution to improve business outcomes. The solution integrates your OT and IT infrastructure to unlock actionable insights and helps deliver unprecedented efficiency and uptime to your factories.  

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We bring in IT experts from Insight Technology, who help businesses worldwide effectively maintain operational integrity and consistency. Their expanded offerings, together with the ability to assist with solution engineering, equipment provisioning, and applications development, accelerate resource-constrained organizations toward their digitally transformed future.

Only 10 percent of industrial and manufacturing data is being processed or analyzed. It's crucial to configure Universal Translator within an industrial environment to have all IT and OT devices communicating actionable insights to facilities managers.  Wachter's full configuration services enable manufacturers to make key decisions via Kepware's Universal Translator.

The incredible potential of sharing, aggregating, analyzing, and acting upon data at the edge has been largely untapped until now – But with Kepware, Dell Technologies, Insight Technology, Wachter, and Intel, your digital transformation is closer than you think.