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Blog · 29 Jan 2021

Are manufacturers truly harnessing the data opportunity?

Precision and attention to detail have always been essential in the field of manufacturing. And technology presents vital new ways to bring efficiency to the manufacturing process.

David Simpkins
General manager, managed services and public cloud

Traditional Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES) are still essential to manufacturing, as they monitor the conversion of raw materials into finished goods.

These MES provide all the necessary data to help inform how the plant floor technology can be adjusted to improve production levels, and they work in real-time to allow various elements of the manufacturing process to be controlled.

More recently, the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) has offered new and innovative promise. Many manufacturers are bringing in advanced analytics and technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), to get right-on-time insight into operations across multiple sites – often on a global scale. When used effectively, IIoT gives organisations the chance to boost efficiency, create new revenue opportunities and drive transformation.

But there we have it, the million-dollar question: are manufacturers effectively harnessing all the data they are creating? The growing use of IIoT in factories and on production lines means that vast amounts of information are now being created at speed. Are manufacturing networks efficient enough, flexible enough, and – let’s be honest – cost-effective enough, for manufacturers to grab hold of and interrogate that data when they need it, and take advantage of the insight they’re generating?

The potential of cloud

The cloud offers potential here. A reliable, global network that can scale up or down as required can in theory provide that vital connectivity between global sites. However, in manufacturing, we’re talking about vast volumes of data being generated… terabytes of information, streaming from potentially thousands of devices around the world. Trying to send this across the network for remote cloud processing could be a drain on bandwidth, and it could also end up being expensive.

But let’s think about this laterally; there may be no need to send complete data across the network. Performing localised data processing, then only sending the data exceptions to the cloud for additional analysis, could be a perfect solution.

What we’re really talking about here is a hybrid cloud strategy.

Hybrid MES is a perfect example of this in practice, as it uses both on-premises technology and the cloud. Hybrid MES builds upon on-site data processing with analytics and optimisation tools, which intelligently send only the required data to the cloud for further analysis. 

Of course, hybrid cloud will look different for every business. So, what you need is a partner that can help you design a solution that’s fit for your particular purposes.

Dedicated to your business

Private Cloud dedicated from BT, in association with Dell Technologies and VMware, is an end-to-end solution that enables you to take full advantage of the agility and automation of public cloud, with the performance, security and predictability you’re used to from a private data centre.

It’s an agile approach to cloud that’s proven to be a perfect fit for manufacturing. Our BT Private Cloud dedicated service provides a smart on-prem footprint and is trusted by manufacturers worldwide to accelerate and deliver much-needed digital reform.

Importantly, BT and Dell have a delivery capability across 180 countries, which means that we can deploy and proactively manage thousands of such installations at global scale. Plus, our pay-as-you-use commercial model offers much-needed flexibility.

And given the speed, precision and sheer volume of data that manufacturing environments generate, that should add up to real peace of mind.

To learn more about how Private Cloud dedicated could optimise and enhance your manufacturing activities, get in touch.

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