How the Digital Dossier Translates to Dollars | Automation.com

How the Digital Dossier Translates to Dollars

How the Digital Dossier Translates to Dollars

By Manuel Terranova, CEO, Peaxy Inc.

One critical business imperative of this decade (and the next) is making good use of data assets, especially those that have “gone dark.”

We’ve moved beyond the old storage paradigms based on archiving. Today, if engineers can’t access and find files that are essential to a current design process, the business loses time and money.

The Digital Dossier is a collection of data streams tied to a serialized product or products. We think of it as a “health record” for industrial things or equipment. It rests on a common data access platform and represents a huge leap forward in connecting the engineering team with “crown-jewel” datasets like geometry, simulation and telemetry.

A digital dossier identifies and aggregates all critical information in the enterprise linked to a serialized piece of equipment. It continues to track and organize that data from the day the piece of equipment is created to the day it is taken out of service. That information might include a bill of materials, geometry schematics, simulations and databooks – but there is really no limitation put on data types or size. Within the dossier there could even be a link to a “digital twin,” or a virtual representation of a part or machine tied to a physical counterpart’s sensors. Digital twins are useful in the pre-manufacturing process for testing and for in-the-field analysis of performance.

A comprehensive digital dossier is incredibly useful for predictive maintenance initiatives, design processes and other business-critical applications. Dossiers might be easier to create in 2016 for new assets that have accessible designs and simulation data, but what about the equipment that was created 30 years ago? Equipment that’s already in the field might have this associated data buried in the enterprise because it has been shuffled around several times by the IT department after multiple technology refreshes. In some cases the data’s original creators have left the company, and often taken the knowledge of that data’s location with them. Many customers I work with are surprised to learn that there are mission-critical files from two, five, 10 or even 20 years ago that they can no longer access!

Unfortunately none of the digital dossier’s benefits can be fully realized if a company does not have a solid data access strategy based on a data infrastructure robust enough to deal with petabytes of unstructured data. A data access platform connects data sets that might be physically distant (and sometimes forgotten), and it does so without much pain to the end-user. The best data access platforms will have find functionality that allows a user to search, index and find data (for example, multiple digital dossiers that might be related to a single project).

A new approach to data access is a software-defined storage architecture that creates a unified namespace for large unstructured datasets. Even datasets that are highly distributed across storage mediums and across the globe can be managed from a single virtual space that does not change over time. This solves the problem of losing track of important data sets because of lost tribal knowledge and tech refresh cycles.

Ultimately winners and losers in the marketplace will be determined by who is able to best use digital assets to create the next design innovation. The real winner will then use the unstructured and structured data gathered from that innovative machine’s sensors and create an even better innovation the next time around.

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