Few industries face the level of global competition that manufacturing does. To compete and realize the promise of Industry 4.0, manufacturers are increasingly embracing digital transformation. Evolving the business — from the manufacturing floor to the sales office — requires a holistic effort that requires a smart IT roadmap strategy and effective execution. In today’s blog, we’re taking a look at the digital transformation journey of several manufacturers and how it has benefited their productivity, efficiency and ultimately their strategic market position.
Drive Scientific Innovation with DevOps Automation
While the current shortage of digital talent in manufacturing is “very high”, according to research by The Manufacturing Institute, DevOps automation increases employee efficiency by creating a platform that enables researchers, engineers, and scientists to focus on their core work. And so it was that the Infrastructure Engineering team at Toyota Research Institute decided to support its researchers and engineers by making it easier for them to utilize the power of the cloud with automation.
Working with the Flux7 DevOps consulting team, they implemented DevOps methods, processes, and automation that they have used to reduce tactical, manual IT operations activities. Researchers and engineers are able to use a self-serve portal to easily and quickly provision the AWS assets they need to test new ideas, thus helping them become more productive as they won’t wait for the infrastructure team to spin up resources.
Having a secure cloud sandbox environment enables them to try new ideas, fail fast, destroy the sandbox if needed, and start over, enabling researchers to innovate at velocity and at scale. According to Mike Garrison, the technical lead for Infrastructure Engineering at TRI, as quoted in DevOps.com, “Modern cloud infrastructure and DevOps automation are empowering us to quickly remove any barriers that get in the way, allowing the team to do their best work, advance research quickly, push boundaries and transform the industry.”
Similarly, Flux7 worked with a large US manufacturer to adopt elastic high-performance computing (HPC) that facilitates the company’s scientific simulations for various aspects of designing new machinery. These HPC simulations were hosted in the company’s traditional data center, yet required scalability to meet dynamic demand which required planning and a great deal of capital expense. Moving its HPC simulations to the cloud meant that it could innovate for the future faster, with scalable, dynamic demand while greatly reducing internal resource overhead and costs.
IoT for Industry 4.0
Linking IoT devices with the cloud and analytics infrastructure can unlock critical real-time data that enables preventive maintenance and extends system productivity. This kind of data can help staff proactively address issues before they occur thus creating greater system uptime, overall equipment effectiveness, and a greater ROI for capital equipment. For a large equipment manufacturer looking to gather data from its geographically dispersed machines, Flux7 helped set up an AWS IoT infrastructure.
The two teams modernized and migrated several applications to the cloud, connecting them with a new AWS Data Lake. (AWS recently announced AWS Lake Formation to help with his process, check out our blog on it here.) The new system collects important data from the field, processing it to make predictions helpful to its customers’ operations. And, the data helps with machine maintenance schedules, ensuring that machines are serviced appropriately, thus increasing uptime. Moreover, processes that previously took days were reduced to 15 minutes, freeing developer time for strategic work, while creating a new revenue stream for the manufacturer.
Set the foundation for the Agile Enterprise
While becoming an Agile Enterprise will help manufacturers realize the promise of Industry 4.0, digital transformation is a journey that requires a smart roadmap and solid execution. Flux7 partnered with a Fortune 500 manufacturer in its Agile Enterprise evolution. The company reached out AWS premier consulting partners, Flux7, to help it embark on a digital transformation that would eventually work its way through the company’s various departments — from enterprise architecture to application development and security — and business units, such as embedded systems and credit services.
The transformation started with a limited Amazon cloud migration and moved on to include:
- IoT and an AWS Data Lake,
- EU data privacy regulatory compliance,
- Serverless monitoring and notification with a goal to use advanced automation to alert operations and information security teams of any known issues surfacing in the account, or violations of the corporate security standard.
- Advanced automation to simplify maintenance and improve security and compliance.
- Amazon VPC automation for faster onboarding.
The outcome has been a complete agile adoption of Flux7’s Enterprise DevOps Framework for greater security, cost efficiencies, and reliability. Enabled by solutions that connect its equipment and customer communities, the digital transformation effectively supports the company’s ultimate goal to create an unrivaled experience for its customers and partners.
From smart production to smart logistics and even smart product design and smarter sales and marketing efforts, a technology-driven transformation will help manufacturers achieve greater fault-tolerance, productivity, and ultimately revenue.