Regarding apps for cloud or edge applications in production opinions differ: Some companies introduce such solutions in processes and systems. In contrast, others do not yet see any concrete benefits. Cloud apps offer a lot of potential for process improvements, as practical use cases show.
Edge and cloud apps promise more efficient maintenance, a better overview and more productivity. The intelligent apps for use in production systems and machines use the data from the system automation to generate recommendations for action for service technicians and system operators. However, companies have a split opinion about introducing the corresponding solutions. While some companies are already using such solutions, others have so far held back.
Cloud Apps: Acceptance Does Not Only Depend On The Willingness To Innovate
The significant differences in the acceptance of cloud and edge-based apps can be explained by different levels of willingness to innovate among those responsible for different innovation cycles in the respective industries. Instead, the reason is that in many cases, the benefits of IIoT technologies such as edge or cloud platforms are not known or are not sufficiently related to the challenges in their production environment.
In other words: Every company knows problems with processes, productivity or product quality. Still, not all of them know that edge and cloud technologies provide suitable tools to resolve these problems quickly – and that some ways and means reduce risks and costs when introducing these technologies to a minimum.
Cloud Apps And Automation: With Each Other Instead Of Against Each Other
A frequent requirement in production is to generate notifications and messages from the automation and send them to other systems to make a system operator aware of a malfunction or provide production management with current critical figures from an assembly line. This function can also be implemented in the automation system. However, such solutions are associated with a lot of effort. This notification function is much easier to implement with edge or cloud apps.
To do this, the machine only needs to be retrofitted with an interface to the cloud or with an industrial-edge-capable device – the actual automation remains unaffected. In addition to notification, the app also supports a feedback channel so that tasks within teams can also be managed and coordinated. The Notified app supplements classic automation with a notification function, making interaction with the systems significantly easier.
Practical Support For Device Management
The topic of device management also shows how much automation can benefit from edge and cloud apps. The maintenance of the installed devices is a complex task, especially in highly automated systems. Sometimes hundreds of different devices at different locations and systems have to be updated regularly without a central device management system available in IT. In many cases, this meant that employees had to install updates on-site in the system – with all the associated costs.
With edge apps, the data from the automation can be evaluated directly on the machine in the edge device and tasks such as the central management of the installed devices and systems can be optimized – even without a cloud connection. With this app, commissioning and service activities for Sematic automation devices, such as the assignment of IP addresses or firmware updates, can be carried out in parallel for several devices – this not only saves time and reduces possible sources of error.
Diagnostic data from automation can also be evaluated more easily than before with Edge apps. For example, users can correlate machine status data as well as alarms and diagnostic data recorded in the Industrial Edge app Machine Insight with each other and with corresponding KPIs, and in this way identify and remedy the causes of errors more efficiently – and thus improve the availability and performance of machines.
Cloud Apps Improve Knowledge Management
Cloud apps help the teams in production and service with their tasks, but they also help companies use another central resource more effectively: the knowledge of their employees. In every production, some experts know exactly why plant A needs different parameters than plant B, what to do if a unit fails on a particular machine – and thus make an invaluable contribution to productivity. But what if these experts leave the company? How can this knowledge be used in other teams and at other locations?
Informal networks among colleagues often help here, but with the right digital tools, this collaboration can be intensified and documented. If there are problems with a system, colleagues and experts can be contacted and involved in finding a solution. For this purpose, the app provides standard methods from quality management such as Ishikawa or 5 Why and documents the solution found. Companies can set up their knowledge database from which all locations benefit – and support operators and maintenance managers in increasing the uptime of machines and systems.
Add Data Processing Options To Automation
By integrating cloud and edge applications, numerous typical tasks in the production environment can be efficiently and effectively supported. Apps can supplement the existing automation with efficient data preparation and processing options without having to intervene heavily in the machine or system architecture. Existing machines or systems can also be retrofitted with corresponding IIoT gateways or edge devices, reducing investment costs and lowering the risks for ongoing system operation.
Users must choose an open and secure platform that offers them both the option of using ready-to-use apps and developing their solutions – either as high-level language applications or with the help of low-code applications such as those offered by Mendix. In this way, for example, initial applications can also be implemented with generic apps to identify potential and create corresponding business cases. These results can then be rolled out on a broader basis – and the possibilities of the Industrial Internet of Things can be used in your own company.