Cloud technology set to revolutionize manufacturing asset service and repair processes

Monday February 27, 2017
Written by Michael Riemer, Decisiv
Feb. 27, 2017 - The Cloud is fast becoming a springboard for innovation in the manufacturing industry, with plants and factories already reporting good results from Cloud-based applications.

Industrial facilities are seeing benefits such as lower costs, greater efficiencies due to process automation, increased data visibility, reduced total cost of ownership, and better, faster data integration capabilities over legacy systems.

It’s no surprise that Cloud use is also expected to dramatically accelerate this year. A key driver for this growth is in the use of Cloud synergies, mobility, and advanced analytics as the fabric for analyzing data coming from the factory floor and converting it into actionable information that is accessible for all decision makers. According to IDC Manufacturing Predictions, by the end of 2017, 50 per cent of manufacturers will use the Cloud for this purpose.

A significant source of this data is from the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) — sensors and devices located on machines and equipment which track everything from temperature to utilization, and could  be used to predict potential equipment failures. Having access to that data in an actionable and contextual format is key to delivering true organizational value.  

IIoT data must be actionable and accessible
Having access to information alone isn’t enough; data has far more value when it can be used intelligently and as part of a closed-loop, service event management process. Ensuring timely and actionable access to IIoT information can reduce downtime and repair costs as well as improve employee productivity and efficiency.
 
Easy and contextual access to information from IIoT, legacy applications, and paper-based forms poses a particular challenge for manufacturing companies. With information stored in a multitude of siloed legacy apps, such as computerized maintenance management systems (CMMS), enterprise resource planning (ERP), data warehouses and other applications, accessing data when it is needed, at the point of service, is very cumbersome — and ultimately a key contributor to downtime and reduced technician productivity.

Connecting the dots with Cloud-based service relationship management
Moving all the required IIoT, CMMS, and other information (service history, maintenance schedule and status, wiring and structural diagrams) into the cloud can eliminate many of these inefficiencies. Indeed, the Cloud can provide manufacturers with a better way to connect the people, processes (many of which have traditionally been manual and paper-driven), data, and systems that companies rely on to service and repair equipment.

Service Relationship Management (SRM) is a relatively new concept that brings all of these things together. SRM is a Cloud-based, fully-integrated, end-to-end service event management solution that gives teams the information and visibility they need to perform repairs faster, improve maintenance compliance, ensure proper record management, and reduce downtime.

In-context access with true communication and collaboration services
SRM stresses collaboration, connectivity and integration and support tools to deliver contextual, real-time access to the key information at the point of service to ensure timely, consistent service events. SRM aggregates data collected from shop floor IIoT sensors and other legacy systems into a Cloud platform that acts as a one-stop shop for communication and collaboration across the all participants in the service supply chain (maintenance engineers, mechanics, OEMs, third party providers, and so on).

Actionable data, in an SRM platform, makes it easier for teams to accomplish a wide array of critical activities that ultimately improve employee efficiency and machinery uptime. Managers can create electronic service requests and send to available technicians, receive real-time alerts based on based on IIoT-captured fault codes, temperature gauges, etc., track and audit complex “paper trails” as well as monitor and measure service events and technicians against target repair times and other industry best practices — all from one platform. Technicians can have mobile access to all the required information, perform and document the repair on-site, including any pictures as well as capture their labour time. After the repair is completed, all case and repair data can also integrate back into legacy applications and other analytics tools for further processing.

Achieve greater ROI
SRM also eliminates the pressure on your IT budget. With data, analytics, workflows and communication channels moved to the cloud, SRM is displacing the need for costly on-premise servers and custom platforms and apps that would otherwise be needed to achieve the same result. At the same time, it synchronizes and integrates seamlessly with legacy systems to maximum your return on investment in existing technologies. Plus, the accessibility and real-time nature of cloud-based SRM means that organizations can be up and running quickly.

SRM also drives value more value from your IIoT investments. Think of it as the glue that facilitates seamless data flow cross your service supply chain, reducing administrative costs, increasing productivity, and keeping plants running at peak performance.  
 
The Cloud is changing the game
All of these benefits simply aren’t possible without the power of the Cloud. Organizations that are still on the fence about Cloud migration may want to begin their migration efforts so they can maximize their investments into IIoT and harness the power of actionable data.

Moving away from systems, technologies and processes that are growth constraining, costly, and broken — and toward cloud-based solutions — is an imperative for manufacturing companies. Massive amounts of raw data, single-purpose applications and manual processes continue to drag operations down, prohibit agility, and introduce disconnects into vital workflows. With 2017 looking like a banner year for Xloud adoption in manufacturing, look out for SRM as it solidifies its position as a collaboration and communication game-changer in the service supply chain, ensuring better automation of information, big data-powered insights, and a fruitful return on any investment in IIoT.

Michael Riemer is VP Product and Channel Marketing at Decisiv.

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