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The Role of System Integrators in Industry 4.0



The Role of System Integrators in Industry 4.0

As strange as it may seem, our world is getting smaller by the day. Thanks to technological advancements, we are interconnected more than any generation before.

The Internet alone allows us to connect to the remotest locations on Earth, see and hear people on the other side of the globe, and monitor our health, home, or pets in real-time from anywhere.

Mutual integrations of different systems and technologies will continue to be one of the leading powers of the fourth iteration of the Industrial Revolution.

Thus, this article will discuss what system integrators are, what is their role in Industry 4.0, and the potential challenges in their application.

What are System Integrators?

System integration – as its name suggests – represents the creation of a larger system by combining different computing systems and software packages.

The newly created system, achieved through system integration, has an increased value and area of application thanks to the new features and functionalities it boasts.

So, systems integrators are businesses that build systems by combining hardware, software, networking, and storage products. Integrator businesses combine these products from multiple vendors, thus enabling clients to get cheaper, off-the-shelf software tailored to meet their business goals.

Top system integrators help clients get a quality product without having to resort to expensive, customized implementations that may require original programming or manufacturing unique components.

Systems integrators generally work with large enterprises on projects that span multiple locations or even multiple countries.

Application of System Integration

The process of system integration is commonly used in engineering and information technology and finds its applications across the board, from hi-tech industrial systems to home and lifestyle accessories.

System integration relies on the never-easier process of gathering, storing, and analyzing data from varied sources.

In a business setting, system integrators provide a single centralized location for all data, ensuring simpler and more efficient data management and improved operational transparency. Such integrated systems deliver the information to those who need it, where and when they need it.

Regarding everyday applications of system integrators, these include examples of the automation of home appliances, i.e., connecting them to smartphones via Wi-Fi or monitoring health stats, such as heart rate and oxygen saturation, through smartwatches.

What is Industry 4.0?

The fourth Industrial Revolution, a.k.a. Industry 4.0, is founded on merging computers and automation technology. The purpose of Industry 4.0 is to enhance efficiency and improve production thanks to increased connectivity and improved data flow.

Based on the progress in system integrators, Industry 4.0 incorporates a variety of emerging technologies, including cyber-physical systems, the Internet of Things (IoT), and cloud computing.

System integrators showcase their power within the latest Industrial Revolution across technologies and machines, such as smartphones, cars, white goods, televisions, and more.

How System Integrators Help Industry 4.0?

In general, system integrators do business similarly to any other tech agency. As a client, you can expect a series of meetings during which the systems integrators will aim to assess your business and define the technical requirements.

The integration process itself may involve numerous activities, such as designing and building a custom architecture and integrating it with new or existing infrastructure. Moreover, the systems integrator may be integrating on-premise IT systems if the client’s solution requires a cloud-based application or computing infrastructure.

For businesses, system integration technology can assist in achieving more data-driven decision-making and driving processes to be more coherent and optimized.

Integrating the right systems can help organizations analyze their performance by providing the tools and resources to gather and interpret relevant data. Additionally, businesses looking to improve the productivity and quality of their products, services, or operations can leverage system integrations to identify the perfect place to start.

Let’s look at the two main ways system integrations empower the progress of Industry 4.0.

Provide a centralized data collection location

Many organizations are losing valuable opportunities to enhance their operations by not collecting relevant data, or failing to adequately analyze them. Likely, system integration helps solve these problems.

System integrators provide a unified data source, enabling businesses to gather, access, and assess all collected data from a single place. As data can now be compared and interpreted, organizations can strategize their decision-making and run more data-driven activities.

Improve the visibility of the organization’s processes

System integrators are invaluable tools for gaining transparency into the company’s planning, scheduling, and performance.

The technology allows businesses to receive information from all levels of operations in real-time. Thus, companies are able to maintain a balance between daily management activities and future plans and initiatives.

As system integration enables the collection and storage of company-wide data, organizations are empowered to identify areas of improvement correctly and set realistic objectives for future efforts.

Organizations Before System Integration

To truly understand the extent of system integrators’ benefits for business operations, let’s take a look into how organizations operated some ten, or fifteen years ago.

Before system integrators were a thing and Industry 4.0 was in full motion, an industrial factory operated on usually three separate levels. The first entails factory processes or operational technology (OT), the second was IT, and in between was the third, including everyone connecting the two.

In the past, most enterprises kept commercial and production systems separate – deliberate to an extent, but even more so because technologies were so vastly different that collaboration between the two was virtually impossible.

Nowadays, organizations are empowered with tools and tech that keep communication running smoothly, increase the flow of data, improve asset utilization, boost performance, maximize productivity, and enable real-time data collection and analysis. Moreover, data are being leveraged for predictive analysis, where the system can detect issues and suggest adequate solutions.

In sum, system integrators make present-day organizations reliant on a network infrastructure that enables a dialogue between operational and information technology.

What’s Up for Engineers?

Identical to many jobs and tasks across industries, technological innovations will change the job descriptions of engineers alike.

For engineers and technical staff in general, the merging of IT and OT will require acquiring automation skills, as well as an array of non-technical project management and business skills.

The IT and OT convergence will force system integration engineers to specialize in designing, deploying, and commissioning new operational requirements, like Ethernet and cybersecurity.

Challenges of System Integrators within Industry 4.0

As is the case with any tech innovation, system integration comes with its challenges.

Firstly, organizations face difficulty in keeping existing systems up to date. In addition, for many companies, collecting, storing, analyzing, and displaying data is a frequent issue when transitioning into this tech.

Finally, ensuring system security from cyber attacks is another challenge companies get to face as Industry 4.0 evolves.

Final Words

Regardless of challenges, companies across industries and sizes aim to maximize the output of their existing assets and have begun the efforts of retrofitting systems and operations.

Industry 4.0 – and its technologies – are to bring about a comprehensive corporate reorganization, involving all levels, from production to management.

System integrators will pave the way for creating and adopting new approaches in the industry, the evolution of manufacturing operations, and the transformation of the way business is done within a company.

My name is Bogdan, a passionate writer and explorer of words, born and raised in western Romania. With a deep love for literature and culture, I traveled through the world of stories from a young age. On this blog, I share my thoughts and visions about life, art, society and many other areas, inviting readers on a journey through words and emotions. Each article is an open window to my inner world, reflecting passions, dreams and questions. I am dedicated to creating content that inspires, educates and provokes thought, building a community of passionate and curious readers. I invite you to explore with me this world of words, where every story becomes an adventure and every idea a new beginning.

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