Searching the Internet for information on what Industrial Information is, you can come across the casual definition given in Wikipedia:
Industrial informatics (Wikipedia) – the field of knowledge located on the borderline of information science and broadly understood sciences about industrial technologies and combining these two ranges of knowledge. The main interests of industrial computer science include:
- production monitoring and control;
- numerical modeling of technological processes;
- statistical analysis of collected data;
- data mining;
- application of artificial intelligence tools, such as, for example, neural networks and expert systems.
According to this definition, this is the field of knowledge combining IT science with industrial technologies science.
At first glance, such a definition can be considered too vague, and the sources that Wikipedia is not credible enough. However, if you take a closer look at this and lay down the definition above, it turns out that it contains the essence of the science field in question.
Informatics in Industry
Information technology as an exact science deals with information processing and is divided into departments such as:
- network administration
- system administration
- processor architecture
- computer security
- computer graphics
- software engineering
- IT systems
- information theory
- and other
If these issues are related to industrial systems and manufacturing processes, we get a number of specific issues and problems that are not found anywhere else. These are, as mentioned in the definition, the problems of production monitoring and control, process modeling, data analysis or the application of modern computational intelligence methods.
However, this does not exhaust the list of issues that industrial computing deals with. Referring to other areas of IT, you can specify issues such as:
- administration of industrial networks,
- systems administration in industry,
- algorithms for process, production, enterprise control,
- architecture of processors, including processors of industrial devices, i.e. programmable controllers,
- security of industrial computer systems (servers and other devices connected to the network),
- visualization of processes and production,
- human-machine interfaces,
- software engineering (methods of making industrial software and implementing it in an industrial environment),
- programming of controllers, control systems, operator panels, production control systems, etc.,
- industrial computer equipment,
- and other.
It is easy to notice that what most distinguishes these issues is “Industry”. It is its specificity and special requirements that make Industrial Computer Science a field at the joint between the general information technology and industry is so unusual. Other equipment is used, it is connected to other networks, it programs and uses other algorithms using other programming languages. Deployments are different, requirements are different and there are different security rules. There are entire categories of software that are nowhere to be found outside the industry.
Bearing in mind the above, one can understand the specification of Industrial Informatics as a separate field governing its own rights. This approach is also confirmed by universities which open separate fields of study on both day and postgraduate programs devoted to these issues.
Industrial Information Technologies
An important issue is also the distinction between industrial informatics and industrial IT. Applying a simplified approach, one can assume that informatics is a field of science that provides theoretical foundations, and IT technologies deal with the implementation of informatics assumptions in specific cases. And so, industrial IT implements the assumptions of Industrial Informatics.
An important question is is it worth to distinguish the discussed issue when it takes place in industry from those that occur anywhere else? Is the information processing theory not the same everywhere? Is it possible that the implementation technologies are identical regardless of the place, but are based on another fragment of the common theory?
Industrial informatics and Industrial IT may be denied the right to be fully independent fields detached from “ordinary computer science.” However, they can not deny the enormous importance they gain or the specificity and complexity of the issues they deal with.
At present, in the era of digitization, Industry 4.0 and intelligent factories of the future, it seems reasonable to attach particular importance to industrial IT and informatics.
In the end, they form the basis for the next big technological leap in industry.