Industrial Manufacturing

Industrial Manufacturing

High Availability (HA) is not just for the data center. While the principles of achieving extreme uptime have been honed by enterprise IT teams, it’s just as important for industrial and embedded applications, which are often deployed in mission-critical environments. By understanding and leveraging HA principles perfected in the enterprise environment, industrial and embedded servers can be made more robust, reliable, and resilient.

HA originated in the enterprise, but not all of the techniques and design patterns that work in the data center translate directly to industrial applications.

While the enterprise approach is able to successfully achieve HA even with relatively unreliable hardware, it depends greatly on trained IT personnel to design, monitor, and maintain complex HA infrastructure and software.

Industrial and embedded systems operate in a significantly different context. These systems are often called on to perform with little or no maintenance, and when they’re set out into the field, they often have to “just work” without IT staff continually monitoring and configuring them. In addition, space is usually at a premium at the system level, and often in the environment as well. Space-constrained industrial systems can’t afford as many layers of redundancy as large data centers, and industrial environments often can’t accommodate the multiple servers that are typical in an enterprise environment.

All this means that industrial systems have to be designed to provide HA that works out of the box. In many cases a hardware redundancy approach is not the complete solution. Reliable software components are key for improving availability without massive redundancy. In addition, monitoring and failover processes have to be automated and foolproof as there will often be little to no staff in the field to monitor and configure the system.

By focusing on automated recovery from software failure, industrial and embedded systems can achieve HA that’s easily deployable. Availability of these systems can be addressed by improving reliability, redundancy, or a combination of both.

Modernization trends in Industrial Manufacturing
  • Industry 4.0 - Software based 3D printing in additive manufacturing
  • Fully automated (robotic) production lines
  • Software based inventory management, supply chain and delivery
  • Software based scheduling & preventive maintenance
  • Industrial IoT- IoT based tracking for inventory, production and logistics
  • Simulation and Augmented Reality (AR) systems
Challenges that came along with the Modernization
  • Operational disruptions can be caused by anything from a malfunctioning device to software instability and anomalies
  • To maintain operational continuity, you need to have visibility of all assets and communications within your network and leverage this visibility to identify any issues that could impact availability
  • Organization needs to have the ability to detect errors quickly, before they spread into the system and have a cascading effect
  • The most effective way to achieve this is to deploy a continuous monitoring and fault management solution
  • Zero downtime upgrades will be essential to keep the production running


Millions being lost due to downtime in industrial systems

"Industrial companies are losing $260,000 per hour due to unplanned downtime; using software high availability, can help overcome the problem"

A Vanson Bourne survey of 450 UK, US and French IT decision makers in field service and service management has estimated that the average cost of downtime is $260,000 per hour.

The study showed that in those organisations that had experienced an outage in the past three years, close to half (40%) said a software failure or malfunction.

Although a a certain amount of downtime can be expected and tolerated, the research showed that 65% of respondents from the energy and utilities sector, and 62% from the medical sector, believe losing customers’ trust is a high possibility following a high-profile incident or disaster.

With companies experiencing two such events annually, each of which typically lasts an average of four hours, the costs to business are considerable.

Homer, vice-president of global customer transformation at ServiceMax, said he was seeing a shift among businesses to outcome-based business models where service providers offer a guarantee of uptime and availability. “There is a big move to sophisticated instrumentation and connected systems,” he said.

Over time, zero tolerance and zero unplanned downtime will become the norm as companies develop and invest in their industrial digital strategies.”


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The computer glitch that crashed Nissan

A critical Nissan Group data center in Denver crashed on Aug. 17, 2019. The results were widespread and frustrating for the automaker and its retailers last week, sending customers away empty-handed and interrupting factory production — as Nissan Group is doggedly trying to shore up falling U.S. retail sales.

But the crisis also demonstrates a larger vulnerability for today's auto industry, which depends on complex digital vehicle distribution systems that link data and commerce among consumers, retailers, distribution networks, manufacturing plants and finance companies.

All of that shut down for Nissan Group last week, affecting the operations of Nissan and Infiniti's approximately 1,300 U.S. dealers as well as an undetermined number of retailers in Canada and Mexico.

The data crash also brought down production at Nissan's factories in Smyrna, Tenn., and Canton, Miss., according to the company.

The system, referred to internally as NNANet, is the retailer's tool for ordering cars and parts, obtaining product rebate information to know how to structure a sale, checking on vehicle recalls, filing warranty claims to enable service work to be performed and priced, and seeking factory financing information.

The system remained down for four days, grounding operations at many retailers.

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