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 we 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. With a hybrid on-premise/cloud Manufacturing Execution System (MES), operations happen on premise, and analytics and optimization tools are applied only to the required subset of the data in the cloud. This is an excellent use of the cloud because it does not pose risk to production yet utilizes the cloud to help reduce the hardware footprint. Costs related to resources to maintain huge databases, such as day-to-day staff as well as the costs of downtime incurred with software upgrades, are reduced.
Major manufacturing companies are already discovering four key benefits from moving to hybrid on-premise / cloud solutions.
Technologies such as Advanced Analytics 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 maintenance can save up to 12% of scheduled repairs, reduce 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.
Fortunately, a hybrid on-premise / cloud MES solution supercharges analytics capabilities by integrating data from multiple systems, creating an enterprise data set for reporting and analytics. Companies can perform analytics on a richer, contextualized dataset that leverages industry-standard data models. The hybrid on-premise / cloud MES can move the data collected (both raw and contextual) to data lakes to pool data into a single location, making it easy and fast to create a context for manufacturing analytics and improve operations.
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 a large volume of on-premise data for analysis. At one site, operators had an 85% boost in productivity of the on-premise MES once it no longer had to deal with vast amounts of locally stored data. The entire factory just ran faster.
MES upgrades utilizing container technology, like Docker, can also be carried out much quicker – requiring much less downtime and faster ROI every time new features or functionalities become available.
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 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.
Today’s MES technology harnesses invisible data and makes it easy to give each person visibility to the information they need to do their job.
And if those other reasons aren’t compelling enough, the most straightforward business case is cost reduction. 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-premise server storage. For some manufacturers, ROI for their hybrid on-premise / cloud MES is quickly achieved just by cost reduction in this area.
Procter & Gamble (P&G) is using our Predix Manufacturing Data Cloud (MDC) to move data from their MES (Proficy Plant Applications) in multiple plants into the cloud. Predix MDC consolidates and transforms P&G’s manufacturing data for enterprise cloud storage and analysis.
P&G began by connecting just 3 plants as a pilot, then quickly progressed to 10, 40, and 78 in less than two years. Using our off-the-shelf Predix MDC meant P&G didn’t have to rework or map the data manually every time, dramatically speeding up the process. This saved them a huge amount in engineering costs and time spent connecting all their plants.
At GE Digital we know that most companies are only just scratching the surface of realizing their data’s potential. In fact, today manufacturers are losing the value of 70% of collected manufacturing data. By aggregating their manufacturing data in the cloud P&G now has visibility of each plant individually, and it has aggregated data into a single dashboard of multiple plants that is providing insights that drive efficiencies across plants. Insights are helping P&G reduce both costs and improve production across multiple use cases.
This also opens the door to the next step for P&G – the capability for further powerful analytics to drive even greater value. They get real-time visibility into plant performance now, but also have the infrastructure for a wide variety of predictive analytics for the future.
Given the strong benefits of moving to hybrid on-premise / cloud solutions, I would say the question manufacturers should ask themselves is not – can we afford not to? But instead, how soon can we do it?
GE Digital has scored in the top four across these Critical Capabilities: Process Quality Management, Data Management/Data Collection, Production Equipment Integration, and Enterprise Integration Architecture in the 2021 Gartner Critical Capabilities for Manufacturing Execution Systems report.
This report details how Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES) are foundational to smart factories and digital manufacturing and places us among the four highest vendors across all use cases; second in Batch / Repetitive Flow Manufacturing and Highly Regulated Industries use cases.
Align your manufacturing requirements with the critical capabilities you need in your business.
Reach manufacturing excellence through Industrial IoT insights and intelligence.
Improve efficiency, production management and quality with a proven, modular MES for process, discrete and mixed manufacturing data.
Drive smarter operator decisions with model-based high performance HMI for faster response and development.
Let GE Digital show you how hybrid on-premise/cloud MES can optimize your operations