Data, data and even more data – each day, extremely large quantities of data are created in Industry 4.0, including types of data that until recently did not even exist. But what good are these large quantities of data if a company does not know how to put them to use? And which data am I talking about, and what do I mean by “put them to use”? And what role does the embedded cloud play?
No Smart Factory without an embedded cloud
The main idea behind the Industry 4.0 concept is to link product and production data and to use them with object dependency. This presents companies with the challenge of merging data from very different areas in the firm, such as from CAD or product lifecycle management (PLM) systems, part information databases, Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), the shop floor world, and the manufacturing line and then deriving new information. High real-time and security requirements are placed on the IT systems responsible for this work. Outsourcing the data processing to an external private or even public cloud is consequently usually infeasible and/or unwanted due to security considerations. Because what would happen if production data, sales forecasts or component information were to fall into the wrong hands? This is where the embedded cloud comes in. The systems that are involved in manufacturing and that remain on-premises are combined in a private group, the so-called embedded cloud. The applications for business IT (information technology) and those for OT (operational technology/manufacturing environment) are combined in this cloud, which consequently forms the basis for the Smart Factory while creating an interface in which all important information from the production process is collected and processed in real time.
Embedded Cloud: And now who does what?
That all sounds very good, right? The crux of the matter, however, is that unlike general IT clouds, in which individual providers like to offer their services as single suppliers, the embedded cloud requires the cooperation and integration of the competencies of a number of specialists. These are, first the suppliers from classic IT and, second, suppliers of automation technology. In practice, this means that OEMs and end customers have to deal with many partners: With one, they discuss the industrial server, with another the real-time transfer of production data into the embedded cloud. Yet another is responsible for the machine control computers. You can already tell that the road to an all-round solution proves to be enormously laborious for the customer…
Or is there really an all-in-one solution?
Yes, there is! In cooperation with the S&T Group we cover the complete range of embedded cloud products and requirements. From the embedded computer systems in the manufacturing environment with edge and fog computer systems to the cloud servers networked with open Ethernet-based field buses or future standards, such as TSN, we offer all Smart Factory components from a single source and, as a “partner for everything”, we can also break down any barriers to understanding or success between the parties responsible for IT and OT. And that’s not all: Together with our partner companies, we now have around 2300 engineers around the world. For hardware development, this means even more innovations in the field of embedded modules, boards and systems in the future. On the software side, there will be additional embedded software and middleware, for example, for security, connectivity, maintenance and analytics.
Can you feel the wind? That is the embedded world, which from now on will be turning a little faster! Because it is clear: the embedded cloud is an important milestone in the global establishment of the Industry 4.0 concept. And we are involved in a big way…