Cloud and Colocation Support for DX in Manufacturing

May 12, 2022
Cloud, Colocation, Manufacturing

Cloud and Colocation Support for DX in Manufacturing

There’s a revolution going on in the manufacturing industry. From digital twins to artificial intelligence (AI), advanced technologies are transforming all aspects of manufacturing. They’re making smart machines smarter, factories more efficient, processes less wasteful, production lines more flexible, productivity higher, and overall operations more streamlined.

But what does it take for companies in the manufacturing sector to take advantage of these tools and technologies? Two words: digital transformation (DX).

Although DX gets overused by technology analysts and writers, the fact is that manufacturers can no longer rely on conventional operations and business models. DX is about changing how organizations operate and deliver customer value by integrating digital technology into all areas of their business. For manufacturers, automation and technology-driven processes are now must-have’s.

Some have seen the need for DX coming, and have even made some inroads. However, the effects of the pandemic, including supply chain disruption and worker shortages, have accelerated the need for DX ─ particularly in terms of the agility, flexibility and efficiencies it enables.

Manufacturers also have to move faster on DX efforts due to competition. IDC predicts that in 2025, the discrete and process manufacturing industries will account for nearly 30% of all DX spending, totaling more than $816 billion in 2025. As more manufacturers move ahead with DX, those that don’t will be left behind, and they know it.

The Cloud as a DX Enabler

Cloud services aren’t considered “revolutionary,” but they can provide the flexible, scalable resources to support just about all the tools and technologies relevant to DX in the manufacturing sector.

They can power big data analytics, cognitive computing, sensor technology, artificial intelligence, nanotechnology, and other emerging technologies and trends. They can facilitate workflow automation and the digitization of manual and paper-based processes. They can enable greater collaboration across multiple facilities and geographies. They can lower costs and generate cost savings. (Think OpEx instead of CapEx.) And they can do so on a pay-as-you-go or know-what-you’re-getting subscription basis.

Cloud services allow teams to focus on developing and executing applications when they need them to drive operational results, without spending resources on managing IT infrastructure or on-premises data centers. In addition, as manufacturing companies expand, their cloud-based systems can as well. In terms of DX that means a successful implementation of a pilot can be applied across a manufacturer’s global footprint of facilities.

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The Disaster Recovery Benefit

Unplanned downtime, whether due to a natural disaster or human error, is one of the largest causes of lost productivity in the manufacturing industry. It causes production delays, lost revenue, dissatisfied customers, and the potential for increased safety issues. The problem costs industrial manufacturers an estimated $50 billion each year.

Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) can help in terms of downtime caused by equipment failures. By combining sensors, machine learning, and analytics, IIoT devices can better predict when equipment may fail so preventive maintenance can be done and downtime avoided.

Nonetheless, there is still the potential for downtime caused by natural disasters, human error or negligence, and cybercrime in particular. There’s always been a strong business case for having a disaster recovery (DR) solution, but that case is even stronger in the age of DX.

Cloud-based DR, in the form of Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS), is an especially attractive option. A third-party provider handles the replication and hosting of physical or virtual servers to provide business continuity in the event of any kind of disaster. DRaaS offers quick, SLA-backed recovery time objective (RTO) and recovery point objective (RPO) in minutes, seconds, or even near-zero seconds.

The Colocation Option

The cloud may power DX and provide a much-needed DR solution, but there’s still room for traditional colocation ─ particularly as part of a hybrid IT solution that incorporates edge data centers.

Edge data centers are generally smaller facilities that extend the edge of the network to deliver cloud resources nearer to data-generating sources to reduce latency and cut data transfer costs. That includes those data-generating sources in manufacturing facilities. Doing so also improves response times and boosts speed, efficiency, and supervisory decision-making.

Plus, there are all the benefits of traditional colocation to consider. Colocation provides a predictable OpEx model. It frees up limited staff resources to focus on other endeavors instead of maintaining equipment.

Colocation facilities often provide access to a more robust power-per-square foot ratio than is commonly available in on-premises data centers. They also typically offer multiple high-quality networking options.

Yet another advantage is that you can outsource selected workloads to a colocation facility. You maintain ownership of them but don’t have to invest in the facilities and labor to keep them in-house.

Join the Revolution

Digitization is becoming the industry standard, and DX is helping manufacturing companies to implement it and take advantage of it. Wherever you are in your DX journey, US Signal can help.

US Signal has extensive experience in working with companies across a wide range of industries, including manufacturing. We understand the challenges associated with DX and with the manufacturing industry in general, and can help develop and implement solutions to overcome them.

Learn how we can help your organization succeed in this era of transformation.

Contact US Signal at 866.274.4625 or [email protected] and speak to a solution architect.