Wikipedia defines digitalization as digital technologies getting more and more common in everyday activities. The whole phenomenon is a result of amazingly fast development of digital technologies. Consumers, especially the young ones, are utilizing digitalization fully adopting new digital applications and products.
From data to information
It is important to notice, that digitalization does not only refer to big amounts of data. Data as such is worthless (Tero Ojanperä in Tekniikka &Talous 12.10.17). It is just incredible amount of data. From production process’ perspective, value is only created when data is crunched to information, which is then used for improving current processes and practices. Methods of machine learning are a crucial part of producing information. These methods are process specific and customized algorithms or software programs that are tuned and tested against historical data. In operational phases they improve independently their performance (i.e. prediction abilities and accuracy) with experience gained.
Status of energy and process industry?
In energy and process industries digital process data has been produced and saved for ages. Also, this data can nowadays be shared outside the mills/plants easily, and this is generally seen as safe. Amount of data keeps growing very quickly since all the product manufacturers launch intelligent equipment and sensors with remote connectivity capabilities.
Energy and process industry has already started to utilize digitalization in phases. Corporations have given direction and timeline, also supporting groups or teams have been founded. Many plants and mills are having the first taste of digitalization through their first “digi-pilots”.
Where to start?
Almost all industrial activities generate massive amount of data, so basically anything can be made more efficient through digital technologies. In energy and process industry, maybe, the lowest hanging fruits are process and energy efficiency development and improving availability (Mika Järvensivu in Tekniikka & Talous 11.9.17).
What slows you down?
There are three barriers for utilizing digitalization
- Lack of data handling and modelling capabilities
- Difficulties to validate process data quality
- Challenges of change management (activities, ways of working)
In the next blog, I’ll discuss how to lower these barriers
So, should you be worried?
I’d say yes – unless you have not mentally prepared to jump in. The early adopters will get competitive edge. As the old engineering-student proverb goes: “the fast ones drink the slow ones”.
We help the energy and process industry to utilize process data in daily operations and business development.