An industrial cloud platform offering integrated engineering and operations data management and SaaS solutions can deliver faster time-to-value, deeper insights, and the real-time connectivity required for true digital transformation says Tim Sowell, portfolio architect and strategist, AVEVA.
Industrial companies are investing in digitalization and transformation to deepen their business insight by providing a broader group of stakeholders with the industrial data they need to make better, faster decisions. And the world continues to create data exponentially. The World Economic Forum (WEF) reported that at the start of 2020 there was 40 times more data in existence than there were observable stars in the universe.
According to IDC analysts the global datasphere reached 64.2 zettabytes by the end of 2020. With one zettabyte equivalent to a trillion gigabytes, that’s a mind-blowing amount of information. Statista expects this number to keep growing, estimating that it reached 79zb in 2021 and will grow to 181zb by 2025.
Industrial organizations generate data all the time, yet it’s rarely exploited to its full potential as not all information is captured, stored, and analyzed. What is recorded is often stockpiled at the point of collection, limiting its benefits to those with local data access. The key to maximizing data value is making it accessible to more decision makers, more applications and more analysis tools, no matter where they are located.
Challenges around digitalization
But simply unlocking data is not enough to meet the efficiency and sustainability needs of the future, they also need deeper insights enabled by the latest technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML). Unfortunately, organizations today cannot keep up with the latest advancements, or they adopt them with limited scalability. Industrial organizations may opt to build custom solutions from scratch on top of independent cloud platforms by integrating numerous cloud services, a slow and cumbersome option with disappointing results.
Benefits of an industrial cloud platform
A much better approach is to leverage the experience of industrial software experts by implementing cloud-based data management and industrial software-as-a-service (SaaS) and hybrid SaaS solutions from single cloud platform.
By harnessing this alongside the collaborative nature of cloud computing, a single ecosystem-wide connected landscape can be created, uniting previously siloed data streams into a trusted digital twin.
Cloud-native data management gives industrial companies scalability to store, enrich and analyze the increasing volume of industrial data. Once data is aggregated in the cloud, data scientists and business analysts can easily use cloud-based AI and ML tools to discover deeper insights and make informed decisions to increase efficiency and reduce costs.
The underlying cloud infrastructure also ensures data security and makes it easy for companies to give trusted business partners, suppliers, and service providers real-time access to relevant information, supporting collaboration and enabling new business models. A cloud platform that combines industrial data management with AI and ML tools gives organizations the flexibility, insights, and responsiveness to pivot quickly and grasp new opportunities as they arise.
Drive efficiencies and improve productivity
When industrial data is available outside of operational silos, it can generate a host of new Industry 4.0 use cases and benefits across the business, from the C-suite to plant floor workers.
Take Schneider Electric, for example. To date it has launched 11 smart factories across the Americas, Asia and Europe. These sites leverage the industrial internet of things (IIoT), cloud, edge computing and hybrid industrial SaaS solutions to deliver lean production capabilities and insights to drive new levels of process efficiency, sustainability, workforce agility, and resiliency.
Critical plant performance data is now available to key personnel allowing them to have real-time visibility into their manufacturing systems and receive notifications of process anomalies or alarms on their cellphones as incidents occur.
Now, insights are not only made accessible, but related work instructions on the plant floor are updated in real-time in response, thanks to their hybrid cloud-based applications that collect, analyze and visualize performance and work process data simultaneously. This approach supports faster, smarter decisions and a more agile workforce.
Benefits of enabling a smart factory
Following their adoption of these solutions on their industrial cloud platform, Schneider Electric was able to identify savings at their Kentucky-based US site of 26% in energy usage, 20% in water use and 78% in CO2, production. Furthermore, this single location has seen a 20% reduction in mean time to repair (MTTR) of critical equipment and unplanned downtime has lowered by 6%.
Similarly, at its Batam, Indonesia smart factory, the same approach has helped Schneider Electric achieve a 21% energy saving, increase on-time customer delivery by 40% and reduce downtime by 44%.
“There’s no doubt that the Industry 4.0 capabilities we’ve applied have transformed our operations,” says Wiranata Suganda, Schneider Electric’s Plant Director for the Batam smart factory and digital transformation project leader, East Asia and Japan.
“By connecting shop floor to top floor, we have real-time performance tracking that wasn’t possible previously. The result now is quicker insight to enable faster decision making. We can stop the line through digital escalation if there’s a quality issue. Ultimately, this capability is one of many that our smart factory environment enables.”
Achieve true digital transformation
Digitalization creates growing amounts of data, but in order to maximize its value, it’s imperative that this data can be analyzed, accessed, and scaled across the organization and beyond.
By adopting a cloud and SaaS approach that is designed for and fully understands your industrial data, you can achieve new levels of productivity and efficiency through enhanced innovation, collaboration, and data-driven insights, driving growth and sustainability for your future.