Our connected future: How industrial data sharing can unite a fragmented world

Strategic data collaboration offers a route to peak business performance and a healthier planet, writes AVEVA CEO Peter Herweck.

Posted: 25 January, 2023

By the end of 2022, some 68% of the world’s population was vaccinated against a deadly pandemic. These lifesaving Covid-19 vaccines were possible only because of data-driven industrial collaboration of an unprecedented global scale and speed.

The rapid and effective development of the coronavirus vaccines has set a new benchmark for today’s industries–but it is not the only one. Increasingly, savvy enterprises are starting to share industrial data strategically and securely beyond their own four walls, to collaborate with partners, suppliers and even customers.

Together, they are uncovering new synergies. They are reducing waste and sparking new opportunities. And because so many industrial organizations help deliver life’s essentials–medicines, water, food, energy, infrastructure and more–their collaboration has the potential to solve not only industrial challenges but also human ones: from disease and hunger to climate change.

We believe this opportunity promises to transform how industries operate in the coming decades. Imagine a completely connected world, where industrial teams are able to collaborate using integrated data from diverse sources–not only with colleagues but also with suppliers, partners and even customers.

According to Leif Eriksen, research vice president, Future of Operations at IDC, “Data-driven operations is a journey, but this should not be interpreted as a reason to be complacent. The pace of change in operations is beginning to accelerate and will result in significant realignments across a range of industries. Organizations that recognize the opportunity will thrive; those that fail to see it will not survive.”1

In this world, you can connect people in real time, transforming complex value chains into agile, sustainable growth networks. At AVEVA we call this data-driven networked innovation the connected industrial economy.

Networked innovation to tackle humanity’s greatest problems

Consider global warming. Here, again, the connected industrial economy offers the potential to accelerate effective, collaborative action.

We see that power companies are using strategic data sharing to support customers’ transition to renewable energy. Cities are using it to reduce emissions, traffic and pollution. Manufacturers are tapping it to drive down resource consumption (and even meeting duration).

By enabling the easy transfer of trusted information and insights, these businesses are facilitating innovative “co-operation in an increasingly fragmented world”–which is the theme of the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos this year.

Worldwide, almost nine out of 10 (87%) business executives at larger industrial companies cite a need for the type of connected data that delivers unique insights to address challenges such as economic uncertainty, unstable geopolitical environments, historic labor shortages, and disrupted supply chains. In fact, executives report in a global study that the most common benefits of having an open and agnostic information-sharing ecosystem are greater efficiency and innovation (48%), increasing employee satisfaction (45%), and staying competitive with other companies (44%).

Shopfloor to top-floor oversight for efficiency and energy gains

Integrating previously siloed equipment and supply chain information can also improve product quality, operational efficiency and even customer delight.

Schneider Electric’s World Economic Forum lighthouse smart factory in Batam, Indonesia, uses Industry 4.0 technology to connect and aggregate data from the cloud for shopfloor to top-floor oversight of operational and asset performance. Immediate gains include increased efficiency through real-time performance tracking and digital escalation for quicker decision-making.

The multinational saw downtime drop by 44%, while on-time delivery for customers grew by 40%. Besides more intelligent use of resources, the facility was able to cut its energy use by a fifth.

Two-way data sharing to support joint innovation

When real-time data is shared securely between organizations, such as with a principal and its service partner, the association can deliver much-needed innovation.

Renewable Energy Group (REG), a downstream producer of biodiesel, uses a cloud platform to mitigate centrifuge failures. The Iowa-based company formerly relied on manual asset optimization recommendations from its affiliate, Allied Reliability–but the advice was often outdated by the time it was received.

Automating real-time data sharing over a bidirectional highway in the cloud now enables Allied Reliability to analyze centrifuge operations on the go. REG, in turn, is able to reduce equipment downtime by up to 90%, ensuring peak performance of equipment and leading to reduced emissions.

Share energy source data to reduce greenhouse gas emissions

Providing real-time information on power generation can reduce greenhouse gas emissions and help achieve net-zero commitments.

US-based Dominion Energy leverages data connectivity to support the sustainability goals of its utility customers. Using a cloud-based data platform, the power and energy leader shares information about its green energy mix with customers, reassuring them of their own low-carbon energy consumption and in turn enabling them to share that proof with auditors and investors.

Among the numerous benefits, Dominion has gained a competitive edge over rivals while achieving a 50% increase in speed to market. And its customers have significantly advanced their progress toward sustainability targets. Fewer greenhouse gases are released into the atmosphere and the transition to a net-zero economy has been accelerated.

Digital solutions for sustainable growth in the connected industrial world

The industrial world is at an inflection point as two incredibly disruptive revolutions are underway simultaneously.

On the one hand, innovative companies are looking to maximize digital value and manage systemic disruption. On the other, regulatory, financial and customer pressure is driving businesses to rethink their operations with environmental goals at the heart of their value chains. All of this is playing out in a dynamic and increasingly fragmented global economy.

A new connected industrial world is emerging for businesses at the intersection of these trends, where colleagues, suppliers, partners and customers can collaborate and innovate using shared data in agile, profitable and sustainable ways. Early adopters are already outpacing their peers with new competitive advantages gained from digitally enabled collaboration that sparks deeper insights.

The path to driving sustainable value through digital thinking is clearer than ever before. Are we ready to shift our mindsets?

The World Economic Forum (WEF) Annual Meeting 2023 starts in Davos on Monday. AVEVA CEO Peter Herweck will be speaking at the event in Switzerland to promote a sustainable industrial digital transformation in support of a lower carbon and socially just world.

1* IDC FutureScape: Worldwide Future of Operations 2023 Predictions, October 2022 (ref: #US48669222)

Originally appeared in Forbes Australia, January 2023
https://www.forbes.com.au/news/leadership/our-connected-future-how-industrial-data-sharing-can-unite-a-fragmented-world/

 

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