IT, OT, and Kaizen

The software and hardware systems used in manufacturing fall under Information Technology (IT) if they only interact with humans, and Operational Technology (OT) if they also interact with machines and facilities. Industry 4.0 is mostly OT, but manufacturing has traditionally focused more on IT.

IT produces reports on delivery performance; OT issues alarms when a gas pipe springs a leak. The distinction is sharp between extreme cases but blurry where the two meet. In principle, all the systems should form a functional stack, with each layer activating and exchanging data with the layer below. The top layer supports management decisions, and the bottom layer interacts with operators and machines. In reality, it does not often work as it should. The key to making it work is continuous improvement/Kaizen, with technology retrofits, rather than a radical “digital transformation.”

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