4 Reasons why Hybrid Cloud is Right for Manufacturers
Bernard Cubizolles, Global Product Marketing Manager, Automation & Manufacturing Software at GE Digital explains why manufacturers should use hybrid cloud.
For many years, industrial companies were committed to implementing cloud technologies for business data but skeptical about putting their operational data there. But as increasing amounts of enterprise data across the organization are being securely and cheaply moved to cloud solutions anyway, many manufacturers are starting to ask themselves – can they afford not to? What’s the right way to balance the needs of the plant floor with the advantages of cloud technologies?
The answer is a hybrid on-premise/cloud approach, leveraging the best of both worlds. Major manufacturing companies are already discovering four key benefits from moving to hybrid on-premise / cloud solutions. These range from reducing the cost of running their plants, making plants faster and more productive, and opening the door to deeper analytics and insights at the enterprise – all of which are helping them to take operational efficiency and agility to the next level.
So, what do we mean by hybrid on-premise / cloud as it relates specifically to MES software? Traditional Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES) are technology systems used in manufacturing to track the transformation of raw materials into finished goods. MES supplies information that helps manufacturing decision makers understand how the conditions on the plant floor can be optimized to improve production output.
An MES works in real-time to enable the control of various elements of the manufacturing process in the space between automation systems and enterprise resource planning (ERP).
Hybrid on-prem/cloud MES builds on the benefits of MES by taking a hybrid approach, with operations happening on premises and the analytics and optimization tools leveraging only a required subset of the data in the cloud.
Early in cloud technology, manufacturers were reluctant to move critical operations to the cloud and today's MES answers that concern by taking a hybrid approach. This is an excellent use of the cloud because it does not pose risk to production but leverages the cloud to help to reduce the hardware footprint. This also offers cost reduction related to resources to maintain huge databases, such as day to day staff as well as the costs of downtime incurred with software upgrades.
Hybrid on-prem/cloud MES has now evolved to answer for these cost concerns with cloud-based information aggregation and visibility – making it much easier for teams at every level of an organization to get to value quicker.
Revealing hidden opportunities to boost operational efficiency
Some manufacturers have hit a wall when it comes to improving operational efficiency in traditional ways. They have made all the obvious changes. This has prompted manufacturers’ increasing interest in the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), causing them to invest in advanced analytics.
Technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), are helping to transform and contextualize time-series and transactional data into actionable insights and uncover improvement potential that isn’t easily seen by the human eye. For example, data-driven predictive asset maintenance can save up to 12% of scheduled repairs, reducing overall maintenance costs up to 30%, and breakdowns up to 70%.
Manufacturers in all industries are starting to look at predictive analytics to improve operational efficiency and to get the competitive edge. And, forward-leaning manufacturers are getting more and more sophisticated about putting these analytics to work. One performance chemical company has reported increasing its capacity by nearly 20% after adopting a predictive analytics model.
Speed & Agility
On a day-to-day basis, factories run faster by storing operational data in the cloud for analysis instead of storing on site. Operators aren’t held up by MES systems struggling to cope with large volume of on-prem data for analysis. At one site, operators had an 85% boost in productivity of the on-prem MES once it no longer had to deal with vast amounts of locally stored data. The entire factory just ran faster.
Upgrades with hybrid on-premise/cloud-based solutions can also be carried out much quicker than standard on-prem MES – requiring much less downtime and faster ROI every time new features or functionalities become available.
Intelligence & Insights
Different roles in the business require different information. Many manufacturers suffer from excessive costs related to materials, labor, packaging, and shipping.
By creating a hybrid on-premise / cloud MES, manufacturers also unlock the new ways to combine and view data remotely, compare dashboards across multiple plants, and track from the enterprise level to the shop floor. This helps every team make the best decisions based on the best data – faster.
For example, the supervisor needs information to optimize product flow, machine and operator efficiency, and manage safety incidents. The supply chain manager needs to optimize revenue targets and year-to-year growth while reducing costs. And the operations manager is focused on increasing monthly and quarterly manufacturing efficiency and reducing any non-value-added steps in manufacturing.
Due to all the different roles, the data they need to do their jobs solves an ongoing problem with data that plagues manufacturers: lack of data-based decision-making. Today’s MES technology harnesses that invisible data and makes it easy to give each person visibility to the information they need to do their job.
Manufacturers should look for OEE visibility for operators and managers, and tools to make them more efficient. This includes personalized views of collected data based on the role of the user (operator, supervisor, etc.), a UX with configurable out-of-the-box views to make users more productive and provide them with the ability to create their own personal experiences, built-in and ad-hoc reporting by role, and extensibility to create highly customized interface, if desired.
And if those other reasons aren’t compelling enough, the most straightforward business case: storing years of operational data is often a compliance requirement, but on-site server costs quickly add up. It is now much cheaper and affordable for manufacturers to keep a required subset of their OT information in the cloud – reducing the need for on-prem server storage. Manufacturers can achieve ROI quickly even by reducing these costs.
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Siemens: Providing the First Industrial 5G Router
Across a number of industry sectors, there’s a growing need for both local wireless connectivity and remote access to machines and plants. In both of these cases, communication is, more often than not, over a long distance. Public wireless data networks can be used to enable this connectivity, both nationally and internationally, which makes the new 5G network mainframe an absolutely vital element of remote access and remote servicing solutions as we move into the interconnected age.
Siemens Enables 5G IIoT
The eagerly awaited Scalance MUM856-1, Siemens’ very first industrial 5G router, is officially available to organisations. The device has the ability to connect all local industrial applications to the public 5G, 4G (LTE), and 3G (UMTS) mobile wireless networks ─ allowing companies to embrace the long-awaited Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT).
The router can be used to remotely monitor and service plants, machines, as well as control elements and other industrial devices via a public 5G network ─ flexibly and with high data rates. Something that has been in incredibly high demand after being teased by the leading network providers for years.
Scalance MUM856-1 at a Glance
- Scalance MUM856-1 connects local industrial applications to public 5G, 4G, and 3G mobile wireless networks
- The router supports future-oriented applications such as remote access via public 5G networks or the connection of mobile devices such as automated guided vehicles in industry
- A robust version in IP65 housing for use outside the control cabinet
- Prototypes of Siemens 5G infrastructure for private networks already in use at several sites
“To ensure the powerful connection of Ethernet-based subnetworks and automation devices, the Scalance MUM856-1 supports Release 15 of the 5G standard. The device offers high bandwidths of up to 1000 Mbps for the downlink and up to 500 Mbps for the uplink – providing high data rates for data-intensive applications such as the remote implementation of firmware updates. Thanks to IPv6 support, the devices can also be implemented in modern communication networks.
Various security functions are included to monitor data traffic and protect against unauthorised access: for example, an integrated firewall and authentication of communication devices and encryption of data transmission via VPN. If there is no available 5G network, the device switches automatically to 4G or 3G networks. The first release version of the router has an EU radio license; other versions with different licenses are in preparation. With the Sinema Remote Connect management platform for VPN connections, users can access remote plants or machines easily and securely – even if they are integrated in other networks. The software also offers easy management and autoconfiguration of the devices,” Siemens said.
Preparing for a 5G-oriented Future
Siemens has announced that the new router can also be integrated into private 5G networks. This means that the Scalance MUM856-1 is, essentially, future-proofed when it comes to 5G adaptability; it supports future-oriented applications, including ‘mobile robots in manufacturing, autonomous vehicles in logistics or augmented reality applications for service technicians.’
And, for use on sites where conditions are a little harsher, Siemens has given the router robust IP65 housing ─ it’s “dust tight”, waterproof, and immersion-proofed.
The first release version of the router has an EU radio license; other versions with different licenses are in preparation. “With the Sinema Remote Connect management platform for VPN connections, users can access remote plants or machines easily and securely – even if they are integrated in other networks. The software also offers easy management and auto-configuration of the devices,” Siemens added.