Paul Hingley, Data Services CMR Business Manager at Siemens UK & Ireland, tells TM why growing data volumes are only as useful as the ability to use them effectively.
As ever growing volumes of industrial data are created, so the spotlight focuses upon the way it is accessed, handled and, ultimately, used.
While the term ‘Big Data’ appears to be a recent buzzword, Siemens already has a long history in helping companies collect, disseminate, understand and utilise 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, nonetheless growing data volumes are really only as good as the ability to use them intelligently.
Mining data in the right manner to inform operational efficiency objectives or direct strategic decision-making for industrial manufacturers or 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 which are critical pre requisites within the pharmaceutical and airline manufacturing industries, the guarantee of product traceability to support patient safety, or immediate access to vital 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 is increasingly sought by companies. Growing information needs to support, for example, accounting and management functions 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 do the risks associated with it. Security issues are coming more to the fore as organisations seek to protect their valuable data integrity from unauthorised 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.
Making the most of data
Presently being piloted with two largescale UK manufacturers, Siemens’ new ‘Plant Cloud Services’ platform is designed to enable 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 benefit, for example, from the ability to truly optimise the operation of machinery fleets.
As a primary automation technology supplier, Siemens envisages the Plant Cloud Services platform will make a significant contribution to driving forward the digitalisation of industrial automation capability and help the manufacturing sector make the most of the data at their fingertips.