Manufacturing in the clouds

The term “computing in the cloud” is the latest topic in the enterprise computing space. The image of a cloud is used in network architecture diagrams to represent the Internet. Computing in the cloud simply means using applications and services available through the Internet.

07/01/2008


The term “computing in the cloud” is the latest topic in the enterprise computing space. The image of a cloud is used in network architecture diagrams to represent the Internet. Computing in the cloud simply means using applications and services available through the Internet.

Computing in the cloud is essentially the outsourcing of a complete service where the service user does not know or care where the service is hosted. Examples of services available “in the cloud” are sales force automation, customer relationship management, payroll, taxes, e-commerce, accounting, and data backups.

Cloud computing service providers use computer clusters and large server farms to meet expected demand. With a large number of users, they can offer inexpensive services because of a significant economy of scale.

Cloud computing users also gain some significant economic advantages. They have no capital expenses. They have reduced service costs because of a simplified IT infrastructure. They do not have to buy systems scaled to their worst case use scenarios, and there is a reduction in large client applications. The primary disadvantages are the risks associated with Internet reliability, and the financial stability of the service provider.

As cloud computing becomes more commonplace, IT managers and CTOs will ask if manufacturing can operate in the cloud, and manufacturing organizations should have an answer. The typical cloud computing application adds a lot of risk in a manufacturing environment. The service is accessible through an uncontrolled network (the Internet), and there is little control of external problems, such as bankruptcy, flood, fire, earthquakes, and weather disasters.

These problems mean that cloud computing cannot be used for mission critical applications. However, manufacturing organizations can use the concepts of cloud computing in mission critical applications in a local mode.

We can use cloud types to describe different types of cloud computing. The highest clouds are cirrus clouds and the cirrus cloud model can be defined as Internet hosted services. Stratus clouds are intermediate level clouds and can represent the cloud computing model used within your company's business network. Cumulus clouds are low lying clouds and can represent the cloud computing model used within your company's manufacturing operations network.

Not mission critical

The cirrus cloud computing model is suitable for non-mission-critical applications, such as document management, analysis applications, and system backup. These services can often be offline for short periods of time and do not require 24x7 accessibility.

Applications that are not business critical can follow a status cloud computing model. These would be applications hosted through the company's intranet in a single server cluster. This is often the model used for corporate email, controlled document management, document workflow applications, and knowledge management applications.

Applications that are manufacturing mission critical and that normally run in a company's manufacturing operations network can follow the cumulus cloud model. In this model all of the manufacturing operations networks within a site would be combined into a single network. This is a network that is firewall- and access-protected from the business network with no direct access to the Internet. Common applications would then be hosted from a site manufacturing server farm.

Examples of these applications include MES, SCADA, HMI, LIMS, and data historian systems. There are significant advantages of scale if you can provide site-wide services from a single server cluster. However, not all applications can operate in a cluster, so check with your vendors to see which applications can be clustered and consolidated into a single manufacturing server farm. Answer upcoming questions about manufacturing computing in the cloud by creating your own site-level computing cloud for mission critical manufacturing applications.

 

ONLINE extra

Also see, from Control Engineering : Honeywell Process Solutions: 34th Americas User Group, 6 areas of change in next 10 years


Author Information

Dennis Brandl is president of BR&L Consulting in Cary, NC, www.brlconsulting.com . His firm focuses on manufacturing IT. Contact Dennis at dbrandl@brconsulting.com .




No comments
The Top Plant program honors outstanding manufacturing facilities in North America. View the 2013 Top Plant.
The Product of the Year program recognizes products newly released in the manufacturing industries.
The Leaders Under 40 program features outstanding young people who are making a difference in manufacturing. View the 2013 Leaders here.
The new control room: It's got all the bells and whistles - and alarms, too; Remote maintenance; Specifying VFDs
2014 forecast issue: To serve and to manufacture - Veterans will bring skill and discipline to the plant floor if we can find a way to get them there.
2013 Top Plant: Lincoln Electric Company, Cleveland, Ohio
Case Study Database

Case Study Database

Get more exposure for your case study by uploading it to the Plant Engineering case study database, where end-users can identify relevant solutions and explore what the experts are doing to effectively implement a variety of technology and productivity related projects.

These case studies provide examples of how knowledgeable solution providers have used technology, processes and people to create effective and successful implementations in real-world situations. Case studies can be completed by filling out a simple online form where you can outline the project title, abstract, and full story in 1500 words or less; upload photos, videos and a logo.

Click here to visit the Case Study Database and upload your case study.

Bring focus to PLC programming: 5 things to avoid in putting your system together; Managing the DCS upgrade; PLM upgrade: a step-by-step approach
Balancing the bagging triangle; PID tuning improves process efficiency; Standardizing control room HMIs
Commissioning electrical systems in mission critical facilities; Anticipating the Smart Grid; Mitigating arc flash hazards in medium-voltage switchgear; Comparing generator sizing software

Annual Salary Survey

Participate in the 2013 Salary Survey

In a year when manufacturing continued to lead the economic rebound, it makes sense that plant manager bonuses rebounded. Plant Engineering’s annual Salary Survey shows both wages and bonuses rose in 2012 after a retreat the year before.

Average salary across all job titles for plant floor management rose 3.5% to $95,446, and bonus compensation jumped to $15,162, a 4.2% increase from the 2010 level and double the 2011 total, which showed a sharp drop in bonus.

2012 Salary Survey Analysis

2012 Salary Survey Results

Maintenance and reliability tips and best practices from the maintenance and reliability coaches at Allied Reliability Group.
The One Voice for Manufacturing blog reports on federal public policy issues impacting the manufacturing sector. One Voice is a joint effort by the National Tooling and Machining...
The Society for Maintenance and Reliability Professionals an organization devoted...
Join this ongoing discussion of machine guarding topics, including solutions assessments, regulatory compliance, gap analysis...
IMS Research, recently acquired by IHS Inc., is a leading independent supplier of market research and consultancy to the global electronics industry.
Maintenance is not optional in manufacturing. It’s a profit center, driving productivity and uptime while reducing overall repair costs.
The Lachance on CMMS blog is about current maintenance topics. Blogger Paul Lachance is president and chief technology officer for Smartware Group.