Simplifying operations control and preparing for the new era of industrial automation

Posted: July 20, 2023

McKinsey & Co. just asked whether industrial automation “will turn shop floors into ‘smartphones with robotic arms’?” It concludes the answer may well be: yes.[i] In fact, it predicts “a ‘software-defined’ paradigm for industrial automation.”

Such drastic technological change is both a beneficial development for businesses and also a challenge for them to manage. Companies should be preparing now to make sure they don't get left behind by changes in operations technology. Luckily, digitizing your operations now—and getting set up with cloud-based software—is a great way to not only prepare your organization for those technological changes but to give it the agility it needs to deal with the current fluctuations in markets, the workforce and supply chains.

Step one: Embrace digital automation

The critical first step to building a change-ready organization is to ensure that your operations are as automated as possible. Analog processes are especially resistant to change because they often rely on institutional knowledge to work effectively. When experienced team members retire, their knowledge often leaves with them. Automating operations helps staunch that knowledge loss. You can fully capture processes and make them easy to understand and repeatable. Once you integrate each of your systems into a digital architecture, you’ll have a full view of your operations. The other difficulty with analogue processes is that they’re particularly susceptible to human error. Teams have to exchange handwritten documents and records, and properly report problems up the chain. Even with the most diligent workforce, there are lots of opportunities to lose information or otherwise drop the ball. Effectively automated systems help ensure that you always have digital records of reports, recipes, operator access, and other data.

But that’s just the start. Once you’ve automated your systems, you can begin to take advantage of future-proofing technologies such as the cloud, AI, and machine learning.

Keep software up to date and supported

Many businesses struggle with keeping operations control software updated. The traditional model of perpetual licenses incentivizes companies to run software past its active support dates in order to avoid downtime and expenditures. Instead of updating software when new features would help your operations, you end up with budgets or staff availability dictating your update schedule.

The easiest way to ensure your software is always up to date and supported is to opt for a licensing model like AVEVA™ Operations Control, which allows you to use FLEX credits to purchase your operations control software. This subscription model ensures that you always have access to the most recent version of your operations software, you always have support—and you always have access to the latest features and tools.

With that perpetual access, you can easily become an early adopter of the technology you’ll need to remain ahead of your competition—without the risk of buying more than you need for the current size of your business.

Maintain agility

A licensing model also gives you the flexibility to adapt to your business’ changing needs. It’s difficult to predict:

  • Will you need to add new operators?
  • Set up more clients?
  • Add equipment to your system?
  • Capture data from new edge sources?
  • Add tags to give the C-suite a more holistic view of operations?

While traditional automation software typically requires you to add more I/O or client licenses as you grow, AVEVA Operations Control offers you unlimited counts from day one. With no unplanned expenses to add datasets or operators, you’ll be able to adapt as your needs change—right now and into our brave new automated future.

To learn more about managing operations in a changing world, check out this eBook: 5 ways holistic operations control outperforms legacy HMI/SCADA.

[i] McKinsey & Co. Is industrial automation headed for a tipping point? June 2023.


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