New industrial automation technology is constantly emerging in today’s market. As such, businesses have grown accustomed to accessing several different IT components to run their operations. But, as your company expands its footprint, managing disparate systems and disjointed tools will eventually impede your business growth objectives.
This hindrance is largely attributable to the inability to share data between your existing industrial automation solutions. This lack of transparency poses several challenges to any growing enterprise, with productivity losses principal among them. Businesses that struggle with managing their multiple applications, and all the associated hardware, can benefit significantly from integrating their virtual and physical components into a cohesive ecosystem that functions as a symphonic whole.
However, before developing any effective integration strategy, familiarizing yourself with the four primary system integration types and how they optimize operational visibility and streamline data sharing is essential. In this post, we’ll outline a few defining points of system integration before covering these four most commonly used methods for pulling your disparate systems together into a unified interface.
What is system integration, and why is it important?
System controls integration describes the process of converging your existing software and hardware modules under one umbrella to reflect a more cohesive architecture that’s easier to navigate. You may have previously heard system integration referred to as IT or software integration. Essentially, system integration means that you’re drawing all your physical and virtual elements together so your organization can operate more cohesively as a single unit.
Why do companies need system integration? When organizations choose to integrate their systems, this decision is almost always economically driven. Once a business passes a certain growth threshold, continually jumping from application to application will start to impede organizational communications -both internally, across all departments, and with the business’s critical external supply chain partners. After integrating its existing disparate subsystems, your company will ultimately gain more accuracy and efficiency through better information flows.
The different system integration types
The following system integration methodologies aren’t the same, and they each support their own unique functions. Subsequently, a keen understanding of their differences is crucial to ensure whatever direction you follow will maximize the benefits and returns of the implementation. With this in mind, let’s explore the four main types of system integration that businesses like yours are leveraging right now to render their production more efficient.
1. Application programming interface (API)
API or application programming interface is among the more frequently deployed system integration technologies. There are various subcategories of API, such as public, private, and partners, but they all achieve the same ends. API establishes your system interconnections through a common coding language that allows your industrial automation solutions to work more cohesively.
API has its pros and cons. For starters, it’s one of the more flexible approaches that can interface with most data variations currently in use. API is most effective at linking your various connections without disrupting the functionality of your third-party software solutions.
The only real downside of this approach to integrating is that it has to be implemented and facilitated by an external supplier. API integration requires an intensive coding process that can add more complexity to your digital environment. In addition, when you’re dependent on an outside service provider, you could experience delays in accessing your data or finding assistance interpreting and amending the overly wrought code that an API solution requires.
2. Integration services components (ISC)
Unlike API, the integration services components (ISC) are non-code-based. Instead, it relies on a server to link your multiple systems with its localized management tools. Businesses that need access to all their data without importing massive files err toward this systems integration methodology.
Businesses can advantage from ISC considerably, but they need to maintain cloud access to their data within the web services. This integration methodology can be difficult to execute, however, because it requires a comprehensive understanding of your local services and databases. Likewise, if a business can’t access the backend of its existing applications, successful ISC system integration is virtually impossible.
Webhooks, often referred to as HTTP callbacks, are like integration services components in that it’s not code-based. Rather, the webhooks method is premised upon events that require various programming modules within your subsystems. These events are set into motion by an external service, and the only direct oversight required is after one of these events is triggered or systemic alterations are made.
The primary benefit of using the webhooks method for integration is that it supports easy access to real-time data. It lets you analyze valuable information from across your entire operations, and it’s among the most automated approach among the four methodologies here after orchestration, a method we’ll cover in the next section.
Unlike APIs, however, webhooks need your systems to sufficiently read these events before your data transfers. This means you cannot change or create new data sets without potentially disrupting the software.
And finally, there’s orchestration. Orchestration is the most automated system integration methodology. A robust solution, orchestration can handle intensive scheduling tasks across multiple subsystems and is highly effective at boosting operational productivity while streamlining your information flows. This approach to integration allows you to connect with any of your services and extract critical process data.
Businesses that require fully automated systems integration choose orchestration as their preferred method. This integration type maximally automates all your platforms to streamline your data and ensure optimal transparency. It’s the most effective solution for any organization that needs to manage all its core systems simultaneously.
The drawbacks are, like APIs, you’ll need an extensive background in coding to pull off a successful implementation. Orchestration is a generally complex solution that often requires outsourced expertise. This methodology can be resource-intensive and may require additional staff with specialized knowledge to control it effectively.
Start connecting your systems now
System integration is undeniably a niche IT service that not all manufacturing software providers supply. If you’re wondering how to find industrial automation companies near me, search no further than the system controls integration experts at EZSoft in the greater Philadelphia region.
Discover how we can help you get the most out of your integration technologies by reaching out to us online or calling EZSoft now at (484) 568-5040.