Friday, September 6, 2013

Why IT and Automation Go Hand in Hand

I recently responded to a post on LinkedIn in the Automation & Control subgroup. There, a young engineer was asking the question, "if I am in automation, why do I need to know IT." 

That is a great question and over the years that I have been in automation, I've experienced first a chasm between IT and automation (one company I visited 15 years ago had a CIO that had never gone on the plant floor!) to a gradual alignment and now, cross over between the two practices.

And this makes sense.  IT-heavy applications such as Manufacturing Execution Systems, Workflow, and Enterprise Manufacturing Intelligence, if implemented correctly, should have IT involvement, and in some cases, guidance, because these applications can theoretically set "standards" that must then be deployed either on a site, or oftentimes, enterprise basis.  Issues such as networks, hardware, and operating systems must be addressed, and standard operating practices adhered to.

Especially with the introduction of mobility, and bringing your own devices to work, the role of IT continues to expand in regard to automation.  Some companies' IT departments are now setting baselines for device types, both from a hardware and authorized application use.  Others are less restrictive.  But the intersection, and cooperation, of IT and automation can only increase in scope and importance, both contributing to the performance, and success, of applications brought in and deployed.

So where does that leave you, the automation engineer?  In a learning mode, in a cooperative mode, with the opportunity to make a bigger, more positive impact on your company, and your career.

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