If you’re an industrial company, these goals probably seem familiar: maximize the productivity of your operations, keep track of your assets in real time, and ensure those assets are well maintained and optimally productive. The challenge is that many of these assets are highly distributed, mobile, or difficult to access which has made it cost prohibitive to remotely connect to, measure and manage them. Recent breakthroughs in technology now allow us to use the cloud and big data to help manufacturing companies achieve these goals.
For industrial companies, cloud technology quickly has evolved from an elusive concept into a dynamic solution – one that reduces the operational costs associated with self-managed server farms and IT infrastructure, while delivering business value across the enterprise.
You may wonder how to successfully deploy the Industrial Cloud in your operations; here are 3 steps to help you plan a successful deployment:
While the cloud offers many benefits, deploying the technology successfully requires a disciplined process, which generally involves three key steps:
Step 1: Define Success
The first step in developing the best solution – with the least risk – is discovery. Upfront analysis involving stakeholders across the production enterprise helps create a comprehensive understanding of business and project goals. From these discussions, the project team documents the framework of the solution, always staying mindful of the need to support the customers’ future state.
Step 2: Define Functional Requirements
The next step after discovery is defining the functional requirements of implementing the cloud-based system. This includes documenting each of the decisions made during the discovery phase. In many cases, the project team implements a pilot project or smaller implementation during the requirements stage.
The detailed up-front definition of requirements allows the team to create a comprehensive framework for the scale and goals of the project that can be easily translated into a system design and architecture, minimizing risk by helping ensure established goals are achieved with minimal rework throughout the process.
Step 3: Streamline implementation & testing
In traditional software implementations, the line between testing and deployment is well defined - programmers write code, run a build, test it, assess the results, fix the code, run it and continue the cycle. With the cloud, testing becomes a continuous part of the whole building and deployment process, with the customer involved throughout. Customers continuously see progress and informally test the application, rather than waiting for a build to be fully completed before testing begins. This involvement helps make users more familiar with the system, eases adoption of new applications and makes ongoing administration more natural.
The cloud allows systems to be installed without any facility-level downtime. During a traditional software installation, a new system must be physically rolled out on every single machine that needs to access it. This creates downtime for the plant and the process. But with a cloud installation, facility staff continue work as usual during installation – when they log into the cloud to access a dashboard or report, the changes are already incorporated.
Industry-leading Automation vendors are now offering customers intelligence technologies and capabilities that provide the ability to analyze and compare of data points from various devices and data sources, revealing new business opportunities. Using this technology in tandem with the proven processes employed by domain experts, companies already are finding new ways of identifying product failure, controlling energy use with pinpoint accuracy and identifying risks before downtime events occur.
These new capabilities allow us to help our customers solve problems they’ve been unable to address in a cost effective way until now. From new services-based business models to higher levels of customer satisfaction, cloud-based solutions just may be the asset management strategy you’ve been waiting for.
John Dyck is a business development manager at Rockwell Automation. To learn more about how Rockwell Automation is engineering right-sized, business-driven cloud solutions that are configured for customers’ unique industry and market drivers, please visit http://www.rockwellautomation.com/connectedenterprise.