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2020 / 2021 Edition

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How Plant Cloud Services will drive the Digitalization of Industrial Automation

First published in the June 2015 issue of Quarry Management as Making the Most of Data

Paul Hingley, data services CMR business manager with Siemens UK & Ireland, explains how Plant Cloud Services will help drive forward the digitalization of industrial automation

As ever-growing volumes of industrial data are created, so the spotlight focuses upon the way in which it is accessed, handled and, ultimately, used. While the term ‘Big Data’ appears to be a recent buzzword, Siemens already have a long history of helping companies collect, disseminate, understand and utilize large-scale data volumes across many industrial sectors.

However, while the ability to access more and more industrial data via numerous devices can be viewed as positive, growing data volumes are, nonetheless, really only as good as the ability to use them intelligently. Mining data in the right manner to inform operational efficiency objectives or to direct strategic decision-making for industrial manufacturers or original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) has to be the end goal to drive maximum plant transparency, equipment effectiveness and productivity.

In important areas such as industrial traceability and verification, the guarantee of product traceability or immediate access to vital component part numbers as part of the production process are primary considerations. Accessing ‘smart’ data streams, making them relevant, archiving them and recalling them when required, sits at the heart of information systems that underpin efficiency, performance and intelligence-led decision-making within the industrial environment.

Likewise, it is not just factory and production data that are increasingly being sought by companies. Growing information needs to support, for example, accounting and management functions which are demanding that information not only be available, but that it is accessible in many forms (including in a more visual format) on many devices.

In addition, as new data-gathering and access options open up within the industrial world, so too do the risks associated with it. Security issues are coming more to the fore as organizations seek to protect their valuable data integrity from unauthorized access by staff and, in some cases, competitors. Such concerns are driving solutions in this area so companies keen to embrace the advantages of the smart data they are generating are not compromised by a lack of control and access.

Plant Cloud Services

Presently being piloted with two large-scale UK manufacturers, Siemens’ new ‘Plant Cloud Services’ platform is designed to allow industrial customers to create apps to understand data drawn from myriad solution and process sources. It can be translated into intelligence-based information that can underpin operational and strategic decision-making in many critical areas, such as predictive maintenance and asset and energy management.

Plant Cloud Services is an enhancement to the existing Siemens’ Plant Data Services market offering. Based on the SAP HANA Cloud technology platform, an open IT ecosystem will be created so that industrial users, OEMs and application developers can access the platform via open interfaces and use it for their own services and analytics. Online monitoring of machine tools and industrial robots, or industrial machinery such as compressors and pumps will be possible.

Using the cloud platform, OEMs will be able to create their own applications to exploit the open infrastructure for data analytics and will benefit, for example, from the ability to truly optimize the operation of machinery fleets.

As primary automation technology suppliers, Siemens envisage that the Plant Cloud Services platform will make a significant contribution to driving forward the digitalization of industrial automation capability and help the manufacturing sector make the most of the data at its fingertips. For more information visit: www.siemens.co.uk

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