The integration of cloud technology and industry 4.0 in transforming workplaces

Sudhakar Murthy (Head – Specialist Services Group), Embassy Services Private Limited

Sudhakar Murthy (Head – Specialist Services Group), Embassy Services Private Limited

The rapid advancement of new and emerging digital technologies is creating tectonic shifts across the workplace ecosystem. Deploying these smart technologies, including artificial intelligence (AI), automation, robotics, cloud computing, and the Internet of Things (IoT) builds an increasing dependence on cloud, data migration and analytics.

Across the workplace however, the acceptance and adoption of technology has not yet taken a linear approach to finding a good application fit for certain technologies. Sectors including manufacturing and construction, banking and financial services, IT services and consulting, government and even real estate have pivoted their approach to integrate technology tools throughout their operations. Organizations need to understand the process of technological and digital application itself, be aware of the connected data and its underlying architecture, and further assess if any of these new technologies fit within their existing operations and structures.

Agile technology with cloud computing is a growing necessity today for developing a bolstered and future-proof Industry 4.0 strategy. The advent of industry 4.0 is bringing forward a convergence of information technology and operational data from sensors, PLCs, and SCADA to be integrated within IT systems, augmented by machine learning. This creates a significant impact across the entire organization from engineering, operations, managing utilities, carbon emissions parameters, to employee wellbeing, engagement, HR processes and more.

There is a mounting requirement for creating and executing a strategy that utilizes technologies such as IoT and cloud computing in improving the collaboration between work culture, operations, and software development teams.

For an organization, the IoT initiative is as good as its ability to harness the value of the data captured from its IoT devices in real time. Organizations will require an IoT data management solution to witness true return-on-investment in all three segments of the IoT data management solutions market. These include IoT data on cloud data that requires structure, software-based IoT data management that offers flexibility, and systems-based IoT data management that focuses on optimized performance.

Embedded sensors, interconnected equipment and their associated systems produce a significant amount of big data for operational teams to analyze. Data analytics can help organizations investigate historical trends, identify patterns, and make smarter decisions to create deeper insights.

The use of open protocols makes it feasible to optimize workflows horizontally across previously disjointed processes. The increased integration brings together both OT data (from sensors, PLCs, DCS, SCADA systems) and IT data. However, this integration has varied impacts on different functions such as operations, engineering, quality, reliability, and maintenance.

Due to the limited processing and storage capacities, the IoT system by itself is unable to store large amounts of sensor generated data. This additionally does not have enough power to process data of this magnitude. Therefore, the IoT system needs to harness the power of cloud computing that can overcome these limitations. Cloud computing has a pool of resources that consist of infinite storage capacity, immense computing power and network bandwidth. These resources can help IoT systems overcome restrictions and improve their functionality. Cloud computing resources are elastic in nature, they can expand and reduce according to the IoT environment needs. Cloud-based big data analytics can also help in analyzing sensor data. Integration of cloud computing with IoT system helps IoT-based applications to become more efficient and reliable.

IoT-connected devices are transforming offices, retail stores, hospitals, and other buildings towards becoming cost-efficient, responsive environments that can deliver better experiences to their occupants, support digital collaboration, and enable owners to conserve space, energy, water, and other resources. The results can be sent back through the gateway or edge server to alter the schedules of a building’s lighting, ventilation systems, and other connected equipment to improve energy efficiency and lower costs significantly.

IoT devices and the data they can provide are changing how enterprises interact with the world as well as how they gather and process massive quantities of business-critical information. While this is not a one-size-fits-all approach, and no single solution will suit every organization, a balanced approach to cloud and edge computing is likely to play an increasingly prominent role in IoT architecture in the years ahead.

The above article is authored by Sudhakar Murthy (Head – Specialist Services Group), Embassy Services Private Limited

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