Integrating IT with OT doesn’t mean ‘rip and replace’….

December 21, 2018 | Phil Morris | CEO & Co-Founder

A Microsoft whitepaper on Manufacturing trends in 2019 makes the case

Many operations executives see the potential value in a connected factory where OT and IT systems come together, but are concerned about capital intensive projects where the return is not clear at the outset. They’ve been told that they need to rip and replace their existing OT or invest in new sensors, new PLCs, and new systems. This idea runs counter to lean principles and continuous improvement initiatives where starting small and driving improved operational efficiency at each step is required.

Looking at the broader landscape of Manufacturing Trends for 2019, Microsoft recently published a whitepaper that outlines six themes:

  1. The convergence of OT and IT
  2. X-as-a-service – the rise of new “as-a-service” business models
  3. Intelligent Manufacturing powered by connected systems
  4. The evolution of manufacturing technology
  5. An evolving workforce
  6. Uncertainty in the economic and regulatory landscape puts a strain on business

The whitepaper highlights the convergence of OT and IT as a top trend. When manufacturers make this happen, they can better control and monitor processes and drive smarter, more efficient operations. The key to success, Microsoft asserts, is to integrate new and legacy systems and enhance what manufacturers already have on their production line in order to stay competitive:

“The migration to intelligent manufacturing does not mean starting with a blank slate but rather effectively integrating new technology with the existing manufacturing environment. And as new technology transforms manufacturing into a highly connected, intelligent, and ultimately more productive industry, businesses must also find a way to enhance their legacy systems to keep up with emerging, increasingly sophisticated technologies.”

Microsoft 2019 Manufacturing Trends Report

In the conversations we are having with CEOs, COOs, Manufacturing VPs and plant managers, we explore the cost-effective, incremental steps that can be taken to leverage the data from OT systems already in place. There is an opportunity to drive significant cost reductions from increased uptime, improved OEE, higher yield and better quality for those companies willing to start small and go fast.  

The three immediate steps you can take to drive a short-term return are:

#1 – Use a Lean Approach

Collect, analyze and act upon the data already available from your production lines. Your production lines throw off an enormous amount of data - more than a human can analyze.

#2 – Create Alerts

Create rules that trigger alerts for any event (or group of events) where knowing sooner rather than later allows an operator to take actions to mitigate the event’s impact.

#3 – Track OEE

You’ve heard it many times: If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it. If you can’t manage it, you can’t improve it. Use your existing data to create OEE baselines for all of your production lines. Use time trend analysis to measure the impact of your Six Sigma, SPC or Hoshin Kanri projects.

We created Spyglass to enable manufacturers to start small, think big, and go fast and achieve these results. In fact, one of our most popular blog posts in 2018 talked about how Spyglass can help to bridge the OT and IT divide – once and for all.


Phil Morris | CEO & Co-Founder

Phil is responsible for defining and executing the business strategy and strategic alliances for Mariner. Phil has spent 25 years in manufacturing information technology responsible for both administrative and factory floor systems.