In my last blog, I wrote a bit about jargon – specifically, it was about how people use the word “Edge” – what they mean by it and what it can mean for industrial enterprises as the technology involved is more widely adopted.
Edge computing technologies are important in the world of Industry 4.0. In this blog, I’m keen to consider some of the broader aspects of industry 4.0 and to highlight how teamwork is vital to strategic implementation of it.
The term industry 4.0 means many different things to many different people – it’s a catch-all term for a revolution-by-evolution in industry that encompasses the assimilation of various technologies and approaches. This is well known of course – very few people reading this won’t have a good understanding of industry 4.0 and how it is starting to change how things are done.
One thing that is not spoken about so much is the cultural change associated with industry 4.0. Now, on the one side, there will be real societal changes involved. Industry will be brought closer to consumers in every way. The relationship between industry and consumers, two comparatively discrete entities at different points of the supply chain, is being shortened by real-time data flow.
On the other side, industrial businesses are seeing similar changes within their operations as walls between long established business domains come crashing down. Operational Technology (OT) engineers now need to understand the IT requirements of the system and vice-versa. Engineering, maintenance and acquisition elements of industrial enterprises need to be working towards a homogenised, data-centric vision of how the plant will operate in the future.
The relationships and the data flow between industry and its suppliers, and between industry and technology vendors is changing too. Those established relationships are becoming more like partnerships, and, in many cases, service agreements are coming in to replace older purchasing models.
IT and OT, consumers and producers, vendors and end users; our worlds are all converging very quickly.
And it’s all built on the readiness, control and flow of data.
Right at the foundation level of this new approach is where you will find Stratus. The servers that handle this data, collect it from the machine or sensor level, allow software programmes to assimilate, analyse and process the data, allow the management level to make decisions on it, feed it into enterprise level dashboards, fit it into data from suppliers and share critical data for the next stage in the supply chain. All of this happens on a matrix of networked servers, running potentially many, many more virtualised applications. But you can’t just plug in a Stratus server and get all the benefits of industry 4.0.
We don’t deal with the networking needs of your application. We don’t create the software you need to control systems, we don’t make sensors or machinery. And none of the vendors or suppliers of those specialist industrial tools make Stratus servers.
If industry 4.0 was a single product, everyone would have bought it and be using it by now. But it’s not. It’s the coming together of technologies, principles, approaches, creativity, problem solving, resourcing and any number of other aspects. It is different to everyone. And no one product, nor single vendor, can offer you a complete industry 4.0 solution.
What Stratus can do though, is partner with you. Partner with your partners and vendors, bring the expertise and the hardware and the after-service that will form the IT foundation of everything your enterprise does. And we can do it very well. Our servers are vendor neutral, they can work with any vendor that uses standard industrial communication protocols or software. I could easily now talk about the advantages of Stratus servers over others in the market– the peace of mind, the availability, the simplicity, that sort of thing, but I think our products speak for themselves.