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Learning from Smartphones to Create the Smart Factory of the Future




The smartphone has revolutionized the way we perceive and use cell phones. No wonder that it currently forms the blueprint for a wide variety of scenarios, from intelligent commodities to the smart home, configured and controlled by the resident via app or voice command. HPE now brings the flexibility of the smartphone approach to the factory of the future.


Manufacturing has committed itself to digitization – think “smart factory” or “digital transformation”. Manufacturing processes are to become more efficient, faster, more cost-effective, and above all more flexible – aiming at on-demand production with a single-item batch size. This, however, is still a distant goal: So far, factories tend to operate in “dial phone” rather than “smartphone” mode.


Production Line.jpg



Modernizing the Old “Dial Phone” Mode for Manufacturing

Today's machines and facilities can be manually reconfigured, but their feature sets cannot be quickly extended via an application. For a long time, the manufacturing industry had been missing a dedicated app store. HPE now delivers exactly that with Cloud28+: Cloud28+ is an online community centered around an app store for business applications. 451 Research has labeled Cloud28+ the world's largest cloud aggregator, with a software catalog encompassing 21,000+ apps and services delivered by 600+ HPE partners. This offers a tremendous wealth of resources to shape and accelerate the digital transformation.


The parallel between smartphone and smart factory doesn't end at the app store: Both combine local with central storage and compute: A smartphone draws CPU power and data from the cloud, e.g. for messaging, e-mail, or navigation; yet a considerable portion of computing and storage happen right on the device, e.g. end-user authentication or the filing of photos.


Data is the fuel of the digital age – production and machine data are the raw materials for the smart factory. Future factories will process more data on location: Indeed, the ERP and production planning system (PPS) and related data processing and storage will continue to be performed in the corporate data center, while complex analyses and data archiving will continue to be the offloaded to the cloud. But in the smart factory, the continuous supervision of production processes – and certainly the monitoring of individual machines and data flows – will happen locally, along with machine-to-machine communications and security policy enforcement.


The reason: Data storage and processing close to the data source – at the “edge” of the corporate network – allow immediate, low-latency reactions to events. This speedy conversion of information into action is the core prerequisite for smart production and just-in-time, on-demand custom manufacturing.


The Advantages of Edge Computing

Edge computing comes with three additional advantages:

  1. The enterprise saves data transmission cost while production becomes more tolerant to faults in the wide area network, as only some of the data will be routed to the central data center.
  2. Edge computing simplifies the digital transformation, as aligning innovative technology with legacy systems is limited to the local level, rendering enterprise-wide integration projects unnecessary.
  3. Data is more secure the less it travels. When it is processed and analyzed at the edge, it isn’t necessary to send all data to the cloud or data center. This reduces the possibilities of getting hacked and therefore increases data security.


In the factory, edge computing requires an on-site instance that communicates with the app store and runs downloaded apps locally. For this purpose, HPE now offers the Express App Platform – Manufacturing: This mini data center, designed for rough industrial environments, becomes the counterpart of Cloud28+, just as the smartphone complements the cloud services offered by Apple or Google. IT is able to swiftly download and run new apps – e.g. for additional analyses – in a smartphone-like manner. This way, production processes can be easily adjusted to match whatever the next order requires.


Express App Platform Manufacturing.jpg


HPE delivers the technology for the digital transformation of the factory. You can check it out live at HPE Discover, November 28-30 in Madrid.

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IoT and Digital Domain Manager Germany

June 18 - 20
Las Vegas, NV
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