Operational Technology: The Industry of the Future (And why you need OT Engineers) 

Industrial Robot

We’ve come a long way from early factories, where each step in the process relied on manual energy and physical labor. Today, we need a completely different set of skills. 

As industrial processes become more automated and the Internet of Things (IoT) transforms modern manufacturing, the field of Operational Technology (OT) will become more important. 

What is it exactly, and how can you make sure your team has the OT skills needed to reach peak process efficiency? 

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Operational Technology (OT): Combining the best of Engineering and IT 

More automation in production environments means the line separating Engineering from IT is becoming blurred. As the industry continues improving processes, a new vital discipline has emerged: Operational Technology (OT). This new field is on the cutting edge of IT and Engineering, and it requires both a new mindset and skillset. 

Information Technology (IT) and Operational Technology (OT): What’s the difference?  

While the term Operational Technology is somewhat new, the concept has actually been around for longer than Information Technology (IT). It focuses on the physical machines used in manufacturing, and how they interact with digital communication systems to optimize the industrial process. OT has been around since the beginning of electric machinery. 

While Information Technology (IT) focuses on digital systems that process and produce information, Operational Technology (OT) focuses more on digital systems that monitor and manage physical processes, devices, infrastructure and events.

Examples of Operational Technology

Examples of Operational Technology include Programmable Logic Controllers (PLCs), Distributable Control Systems (DCS), Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA), and Manufacturing Operations Management Systems (MOMS). 
OT vs IT: The OT Work Field

What does an Operational Technology Engineer do? 

Operational Technology Engineers are responsible for:

  • Improving system and maintenance performance based on availability, reliability and costs
  • Ensuring Cyber Security for Operational Technology and Compliance security
  • Defining standards, sharing and further developing best practices / innovations
  • Providing valuable input for new construction:
  • Translation from internal to external requirements and wishes
  • Attention to reliability, availability and maintainability
  • Handling the release & deployment of new construction and modifications (change management)
  • Mobilizing the knowledge and experience of available experts


What roles are similar to an Operational Technology Engineer? 

Companies that need the expertise of an Operational Technology Engineer are often already familiar with the following job profiles:

  • Industrial Automation Engineer
  • Industrial Automator
  • Control technologist
  • Automation Engineer
  • Control engineer
  • Automate
  • System Engineer


Who would benefit from Operational Technology (OT) expertise? 

While Operational Technology skills benefit a wide range of roles, these roles benefit the most from OT knowledge: 

  • Young Engineer professionals
  • Maintenance Engineers 
  • Automation experts 
  • Reliability Engineers 
  • Professionals with an IT background and affinity with the process industry


Recruiting for Operational Technology roles 

Market signals are showing that it’s a major challenge to fill vacancies in the field of Operational Technology. Further, little education or training is available for the development of the existing potential — meaning there’s a great scarcity when it comes to OT Engineers. 

Brunel’s new Operational Technology (OT) training program

In order to respond quickly to this gap at our clients, Brunel has set up the Operational Technology Training Program together with partners CoThink, MaxGrip, Actemium and Wonderware.

The new education program centers around Operational Technology’s increasing relevance in both Engineering and IT. The course’s timing is spot-on: there’s a growing need for employees with a combination of knowledge, methodical skills and soft skills that can fulfil the vital role of OT Engineer at today’s modern production sites. Every OT responsibility listed above is covered in the training.

The unique, blended learning program has been so successful that we’re already planning the second round of classes in 2021. This program is available in both the Netherlands (Dutch) and globally (English). 

Do you have professionals on your team with the potential to develop into an Operational Technology Engineer? This could be the perfect opportunity for them. Training can be in-company for your existing team and can be customized to the level of the group — ranging from Young Professionals, Managers and Specialists to Project Managers and Consultants. 

Interested in learning more about the program, or want to reserve a spot for your team? Contact Brunel today. 

Looking to recruit talented Operational Technology Engineers for your team? Brunel can also help with that. 

Want to learn more about Brunel's OT Training?