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Optimizing Your OT Monitoring Tools With Comprehensive Analytics

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Shayne Taker

The Internet of Things (IoT) has blurred the line between information technology (IT) and operational technology (OT). Monitoring tools that can see both sides of this fuzzy boundary are the future for data management and security operations in the built environment, especially within industrial settings.

While IT hardware and software concentrate on how data is generated and used, OT focuses on managing and controlling the physical devices and systems within smart buildings. OT monitoring tools seek to bridge the divide between these digital and physical worlds. But without comprehensive analytics, their use is limited.

Data analytics helps you get the most out of your OT monitoring tools. By utilizing the big data collected by equipment and IoT sensors, analytics are a powerful way to achieve better energy efficiency, improve maintenance, and even augment cybersecurity. Facility and property managers who make analytics-driven smart building software the core of their monitoring process gain the insight and capabilities necessary to optimize operations. 

Convergence: The IT in OT Monitoring Tools 

With IoT increasingly converging IT and OT, peak performance is more attainable than ever before. However, managing the crossover between IT and OT should be done with great care and by experienced professionals. The late-2021 problems with Meta’s (formerly Facebook)  servers show us why. 

In October 2021, the servers that support Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp were effectively disconnected from the Internet due to a configuration error. Because the servers were no longer accessible via the Internet, fixing the problem required physical access to the servers. However, access control—the OT that unlocks doors—prevented engineers from entering the building. 

As buildings become more integrated, systems within buildings need to work together to both prevent problems and unlock new possibilities. This requires that OT monitoring tools communicate seamlessly with the building’s IT network and make efficient use of building data.  

OT in Built Environments 

Before learning exactly how OT monitoring tools can use data, it is important to understand what OT means in smart buildings. 

OT includes:

  • Intelligent building automation systems (BAS) that monitor energy use, equipment performance, and environmental conditions to improve efficiency.
  • Computer numerical control (CNC) systems that control programmable machine tools. 
  • Controls for lighting, HVAC, and other building systems. 
  • Distributed control systems (DCS) that communicate with and control hardware.
  • Programmable logic controllers (PLCs) that monitor input devices in real time and make decisions based on user-created programs.
  • Supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems that use both hardware and software to control industrial processes, along with monitoring, gathering, and processing data in real-time.
  • Transportation systems within built environments, such as elevators, escalators, and moving walkways.
  • Various types of scientific equipment, such as sensors that detect air quality within buildings. 

How OT Monitoring Tools Use Data 

Using real-time data, OT systems also monitor and control the physical IoT devices within smart buildings. The integration of IT and OT systems makes sharing data easier, enabling enhanced analysis. Prior to this convergence, physical mechanisms or machines would be used to monitor OT. Modern OT systems instead utilize smart building software integrated into a centralized BAS.

Smart building software provides in-depth analysis of data from all connected equipment and systems. This allows you to gain deep insight into:

  • Equipment status
  • Environmental conditions
  • Energy use
  • Faults

When smart building software features machine learning, it also offers reliable predictions. From energy consumption to equipment malfunctions, these predictions are invaluable for optimizing operations. Additionally, the best platforms go beyond insights to provide meaningful solutions to problems and correlate complex variables to identify the root cause of issues.  

Improving Security in Industrial Settings 

A key mission for the next generation of OT monitoring tools is protecting physical systems from cyberattacks. This is especially true in environments where such tools monitor critical and industrial infrastructure, including distribution centers and warehouses. 

Currently, most OT monitoring tools look at performance rather than security. While digital transformation has brought greater efficiency to built environments, it has also introduced new vulnerabilities. Savvy facility and property managers are using analytics-driven OT monitoring tools to not only gather data, but also to quickly identify and neutralize threats to connected devices, equipment, and systems. 

Preparing for the Future 

With IoT technology and smart building software as the framework for optimization, the lines between IT and OT will continue to blur. Preparing for this inevitable march into the future will result in new and exciting opportunities. By providing real-time insights, predictions, and recommendations, smart OT monitoring tools give you the power to transform your operations, amplify cybersecurity, and reduce costs. 

The silos that once separated IT and OT have broken down, and holistic optimization strategies are being developed to replace them. You need to be ready for these new realities and should develop strong partnerships with vendors who will take your operations to the next level of performance. 

Buildings IOT offers state-of-the-art services and products to optimize your OT monitoring tools. Contact our team of experts to learn more about what we can do for you.

 

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