The manufacturing industry is transforming to meet fast-changing customer and market requirements. The need to be agile and flexible means a focus has been given to the use of digital technology to streamline processes and compress operational time frames.
This drive for change also means that operational and information technology ecosystems are becoming merged with closer links between devices and applications to manage and monitor operations and high speed networks to operate across, essential in ensuring project success and ROI.
When adopting these new models of operation there can be many barriers to success, one of these can be the inheritance of proprietary technology assets from legacy environments. The aim is to get a standardized operating ecosystem but this can be limited by challenges in integrating systems in a cost effective way and getting them to perform beyond a perfunctory level.
To move towards new optimal operational models they first need to be proven to reduce the risk associated with interruptions and potential operational downtime. R&D pilot projects are required to provide real-time and historical data for a comparison of the performance of devices and applications to identify solutions.
Adding network emulation to the testbed allows research and testing to be carried out without affecting the live operating environment. Legacy networks can be re-created and testing carried out on potential changes and ‘what if’ scenarios to identify the optimal network design for the new ecosystem. Devices and applications can be tested regularly to identify problems and define what work needs to be carried out to mitigate any risk to the live operational environment prior to any unification activities taking place.
This approach can remove bottlenecks from integration projects allowing potential value to be realised and the ROI available from moving towards new models to be achieved.