Let’s get physical to Digital

  • Rajiv Anand

As I write this, I am humming the song of my generation,

“Physical” by Olivia Newton-John with some changes of my own.

“Let’s get physical, digital

 “Let’s get physical, digital

 “Let me hear your assets talk, your assets talk”

 

 

 

All the musical levity aside, as smarts in machines get closer to human intelligence, the life of a worker in manufacturing, logistics, and at point of use of physical assets is drastically changing. Machine learning, artificial intelligence, industrial automation, and ubiquitous connectivity are transforming the physical world into digital as we speak. At the center of this revolution is the Internet of Things and location intelligence with sensors such as NFC, UHF RFID, Bluetooth LE, WiFi, UWB, and other technologies waiting to break out of their labs.

A decade ago, everyone talked about business intelligence and analytics, to gain insights based on historical data. These are still valuable tools that business stakeholders need to spot high-level trends to drive their vision and make decisions. However, today the world has moved to on-demand availability and “just in time” everything. Gaining insights into what’s happening right now is as valuable as macro-level trends and sometimes the only way to gain cost leadership in the competitive marketplace. Real-time analytics, sometimes known as streaming analytics provide actionable intelligence rapidly enough for operational decisions to be made in time. Tagit’s Trapeze platform is designed to do just that. In addition to being able to hook into the latest sensors to aggregate events from, its complex event processing core can “watch” situations happening in the physical world and perform predetermined actions to react to them.

If you walk into a manufacturing and logistics facility, most of the movements on the floor that you’d observe are repetitive and mundane. Robots have become ultra-smart and intelligent, yet what they are unable to do today is to replace human labor completely because interacting with the physical world with the same sense and dexterity as humans, is very hard. This is one technology that is evolving faster than you’d imagine. I have interacted with the latest generation robots that learn the job they need to do by just observing me first. It’s almost similar to teaching your 1-year-old how to walk. Automation is everywhere and taking over the human workforce slowly. However, at least in foreseeable future, humans are still needed for exception management, to react to situations that automated systems can’t handle. Situation-aware software platforms like Trapeze, enable detection of such events to alert humans in such cases.

Even after spending multi-million dollars on business applications such as sophisticated ERP systems, enterprises still are very much dependent on the data being generated and information flow managed by humans. That leads to human errors in process, inaccurate reflection of reality, and over some time, a lack of operational intelligence for stakeholders to make the right decisions at right time. Technologies to bridge this gap are mature and ready for adoption, yet there is still a giant white space between the physical world and digital.

For companies that deal with physical items (like manufacturing, logistics, data centers, etc.), digitisation of the physical world in motion is not an option, it’s inevitable to gain accuracy and efficiency and bring compelling offerings to the market.

..and the time is now.

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