Do you think the cloud is simply another way to store data or access email?
It goes well beyond that, and can offer cheaper, faster, safer, more scalable ways for you to grow your business, develop new products and services, and much more. It offers an opportunity for an exponential increase in productivity and competitiveness, whilst saving money on maintaining in-house systems.
At our recent Digitalise Roadshow, Andy Graham, our Wonderware Product Manager gave a talk about how to utilise the Cloud to deliver a secure, managed solution for collecting, storing, visualising and analysing all your industrial data for faster, smarter business decision making.
We talked to Andy about his thoughts on Cloud technology:
What do you think are the main benefits of embracing Cloud technology?
I’d say the biggest benefits to embracing Cloud technology are cost reduction, increased productivity and performance, scalability, security and all at an increased pace allowing for a much quicker time to realise the value of the investment.
Cloud technology eliminates the capital expense of buying hardware and software, helping to reduce the total cost of ownership for your set-up. In addition, Cloud based apps and platforms can be quickly deployed, helping to accelerate the return from the improved performance and increased probability. Productivity is improved by removing the need for hardware setup, software patching and other time-consuming IT management chores, allowing IT teams to spend time on achieving more important business goals.
Another benefit of cloud computing services includes the ability to scale elastically. In cloud speak, that means delivering the correct amount of IT resources – for example, more or less computing power, storage, bandwidth – when it’s needed, and from the correct geographic location.
Plus, most cloud computing services are provided as self service and on demand, so even vast amounts of computing resources can be provisioned in minutes, typically with just a few mouse clicks, giving businesses a lot of flexibility and taking the pressure off capacity planning.
And, with many cloud providers offering a broad set of policies, technologies and controls it can strengthen your security posture overall, helping to protect your data, apps and infrastructure from potential threats.
Do you see the future of OT technology being in the Cloud?
The Cloud is not a place, it’s a strategy. Everyone is at a different stage in their cloud strategy, some may not have started or see the value in it but to realise the benefits mentioned it can’t be ignored.
However, do I see the future of industrial technology being completely cloud based, not in the mid to long term. There are areas where an on-premise approach will remain the optimal solution. Local HMIs and control is a good example of this, response times can sometimes be required down to the millisecond which we won’t get from the cloud. We have to ensure the system is safe to use!
Utilising cloud is about evaluating each activity and understanding where using a cloud solution can add benefit and enable us to improve our process / be more efficient. Some current industrial infrastructures, which could be many years old, can’t provide the insights needed to improve our processes as they are. It can therefore be more cost effective to add low cost none intrusive sensors, avoiding the need to add additional PLCs and all the infrastructure that comes with it. The IIoT and cloud technology are two growing trends that can help to make this advancement a reality.
What activities can Cloud technology add benefit to?
There are many activities where utilising Cloud technology can add significant value to your operations, especially across the areas of analysis, performance management and predictive maintenance, such as:
- Analysis and Analytics – By utilising cloud technology you can easily gain secure access to your process data from multiple locations, enabling analysis and diagnostics of your plant performance. Using a cloud solution makes sharing these insights far quicker and more streamlined, and so enhances collaboration across your teams.
- Performance Management – Asset utilisation monitoring and tracking will help you to minimise downtime, whilst OEE monitoring and tracking can help increase efficiency.
- Predictive Maintenance – Using the insights on your asset performance will enable you to understand how long your machinery is likely to perform and improve predictive maintenance planning, taking out the pain of asset management.
If you want to hear more about embracing cloud technology and how we can help you along this path, Andy hosted a live webinar on this topic on the 13 December and you can download this now.