Import substitution. What the manager needs to know
What really is import substitution, what problems arise in the way of it, and how to solve the tasks? Answers to these questions are devoted to the material prepared for TAdviser by expert Vladimir Repin as part of the cycle of the article "What the manager needs to know about information technology."
What is import substitution?
First, let's understand what import substitution really is. Now everyone is talking about it. Everyone puts their own meaning into this word. For some, import substitution is their own food, for others - their own machines, medicines. The third needs a domestic iPhone. Fourths want all trains and aircraft to be manufactured domestically. And such a "different" very, very much.
In fact, all of the above is true, but all of these examples do not fit the universal definition of import substitution.
Let me enter the definition: Import substitution is the process of obtaining complete control over a product, service or technology.
When using this definition, everything immediately becomes clear. What we do and what the result should be. What are we doing? We get complete control. What result do we need? Obtaining full control. And once the product, service or technology that went through the import substitution process became fully observable and manageable for us, we achieved our goal.
As you know, any "not your" technology has a "cunning piece" - a component, or program code, or a reagent, or an ingredient that you need to regularly buy from those who distribute this technology. And without this "piece" the whole technology does not work. Those who sell this "piece" completely control those who buy it.
So the process of import substitution, obtaining complete control, is to understand what this "cunning piece" is and get control over it. After that, all the technology becomes yours.
The simplest and most household example of import substitution is cartridges for office printers. The printer manufacturer is trying to make you pay him a lot of money for consumables. You go to the market and buy cartridges from another manufacturer. They are much cheaper, and the printer also works. That is, after understanding how the cartridge identification system in the printer is arranged, it became possible to release its cartridges and get away from the control of the printer manufacturer.
Import Substitution Problems
For the last eight years, the people who were appointed responsible for import substitution in enterprises have faced certain difficulties. And at a large number of enterprises import substitution was not possible. That is, it was not possible to get complete control over the hardware and software. And it was not possible to get it not because these responsible people were parasites and did not want to do anything. No. Not at all.
Let's try to put ourselves in the place of the head of such production. Suppose you have an oil refinery. It works around the clock, there is a production plan, all production processes are debugged, everything works. There are no accidents or not at all, very few. All hardware and software is imported. Say English.
In 2014, you were appointed responsible for import substitution. A person experienced and competent in the production process that is used at your enterprise. What will happen next?
Further, this person will have to develop a set of measures to prevent emergency situations caused by the lack of complete control over the plant's equipment and software. But such a task is quite difficult. Its solution is at the intersection of several professions - production technologist, hardware specialist, software specialist, security specialist and information security specialist. Moreover, these people should have a wide outlook, great practical experience and experience in different industries.
Simply put, if you take a technologist, hipster programmer, amateur radio player, a security guard with a passageway and a Cisco engineer who knows how to configure a firewall on a router, then nothing will work.
Moreover, in addition to people, resources are needed. To gain full control over the import refining line, you need to build the same one nearby and conduct experiments on it. It's almost impossible. And you, as the head of the enterprise, understand this very well.
If you go in a "piecemeal" way and begin to replace individual components of hardware and software with your own, then there is a threat of unstable work, and therefore underdelivery of products or, worse, a threat to the safety of employees of the enterprise. Because all hardware and all software requires debugging, and debugging on "live" production is ultra-frivolous.
For these reasons, all import substitution causes you, as the head of the plant, only irritation. Practically you can't do anything. This is the real reason that import substitution in industry has failed. Now that the reasons are generally clear, let's see what can be done. After all, you can always do something.
Solving import substitution problem
Since I am digitalizing industrial enterprises, I want to talk about my approach to solving the problem of obtaining complete control in a simple way. It's two-step. Please note that the approach described below is mainly intended for an industrial enterprise where there are machines, production lines, control mechanisms, and APCS systems.
Phase One - Isolator
The principle of operation is the creation of an isolated and equipment-friendly information environment around production equipment. The insulator is the first to receive all the information that all components of production equipment exchange both with the outside world and inside. This information transparently passes through it. No Insulator exists for all manufacturing equipment components. But he is. It accumulates and analyzes information. And based on the accumulated information creates an information profile of normal operation of the equipment.
If the Isolator receives data or commands from outside or inside that do not match the normal operation profile of the equipment, it may block or delay the data or commands, notifying the operator to make a decision.
This enables you to monitor the entire production line.
Diagram of Insulator operation is shown in Fig.1
Phase Two - Observer
Gain full control over individual components of production equipment and/or software. First, a "Watcher" is placed on the hardware or software component that needs to be controlled, a device or software module of our manufacture that records all data exchange between this hardware or software component and others. This data is analyzed and a digital double is created, which has all the commands/data necessary for the normal operation of the equipment. Further, the double is connected instead of the original hardware or software component. So we get complete control over it.
1. System Audit. Define the command and data streams to be monitored;
2. Installation and configuration of equipment;
3. System start-up in transparent mode, traffic analysis;
4. System start in "combat" traffic control mode.
By repeating this process with other hardware or software component, you can gain full control over all system components.
In general, this is all the manager needs to know about import substitution.
I will briefly repeat:
1. Import substitution is the process of obtaining complete control over a technology, product or service.
2. Any system of production equipment and/or software can be imported, that is, get complete control over it.
3. At a real operating enterprise, it is possible to obtain complete control only when using the two-stage Isolator-Observer scheme. The first stage isolates the entire system from external interference and thereby gives the opportunity to gain complete control over individual components, which is provided by the second stage - "Observer."