How SMEs can leverage an industrial historian — without spending a fortune
Yves Bourgeois on , updated
Only a few years ago, industrial historians were the exclusive privilege of multinational corporations. Thanks to open technology and the Automation Revolution amongst SMEs, this all changed. Factry COO Yves Bourgeois reveals how small and mid-sized businesses can leverage the power of the industrial historian — without having to empty their pockets.
Aren’t industrial historians expensive?
Industrial historians, aka process or data historians, have existed since the eighties. Ever since, they have proven their value and usability in big industries time and again. Oil & Gas, Chemical and Petrochemical, Pharma, Life Sciences… they all have been reaping the benefits from new data insights delivered by historians.
Key in the above paragraph is the term big industries. These are where classic historian vendors alle have been flocking to. Huge initial investments, a pay-per-tag model, and the high-cost maintenance of proprietary systems, had made industrial historians a synonym for very expensive, and thus unobtainable for smaller businesses.
Well, this all changed.
The Automation Revolution in SMEs
In the last 15 years, manufacturing automation has entered the SME world and become less and less exclusive to large businesses. Nowadays, an automated packaging line is a commodity, even for companies with one single production line. Automation can also be found within the production line itself, resulting in manufacturing processes with higher throughput and higher level of quality.
Thanks to its high returns, investing in automation became a no-brainer. At the same time, industrial historians have been growing from plant level to enterprise level, enabling a whole new level of data analytics. As today, they’re no longer only important to production engineers. They provide multiple departments with fresh data insights: from the sales department over to management.
Small to midsize businesses can benefit as much from the next Industrial Revolution as the billion-dollar corporations do.
Data historians vs. Continuous Improvement
With the introduction of automation comes the need for Continuous Improvement (CI). This goes for smaller businesses as well. Once the automation process has been put in place, the urge to monitor, iterate and improve this process will become a necessity by itself. The return on investment again will be crystal clear.
Data historians play a central role in this continuous improvement process. However, for small or mid-sized businesses, the cost of setting one up, maintaining the infrastructure and the licence fees has surpassed the virtual benefits CI could have on the production process. But this notion has become a fallacy in itself.
What Factry Historian changed
Ever since we launched Factry in 2016, it was our team’s mission to make the industrial historian’s power and efficiency available to small and mid-size industrial businesses. Therefore, we combined years of experience in the industrial field with the technological revolution that has been happening in the past years.
By using open source technology, lightning fast fiber-optic networks, and the cloud, we can offer a full-fledged process historian without the need for expensive licenses and costly IT infrastructure.
This allowed us to develop a historian solution that is both affordable and incredibly compelling for small to midsize businesses, as well as large enterprises. On top of that, we do not only incorporate the technological revolution in our solution. We are in fact bringing the design principles of Industry 4.0 to your business as well:
- Interoperability — Historian data is accessible from any device connected to the internet
- Information Transparency — Automatically match historian data with contextual data, enabling new insights
- Technical assistance — Monitor equipment, make informed decisions and receive alerts in real-time
The bright future of SMEs in Industry 4.0
At Factry, we promote the idea that small to midsize businesses can benefit as much from the Fourth Industrial Revolution as the billion-dollar corporations do. Therefore, we see the Factry Historian as a solid base on which we can build more advanced features and functionalities, such as MES applications and OEE.
The next steps to take are therefore just as exciting. Real-time efficiency monitoring through the historian data and predictive models using Artificial Intelligence (AI) provide the necessary tools to help our clients improve the quality of their product and throughput, and therefore truly enhance their market position.
Take a look at one of our recent use cases:
- Preventive maintenance with Factry Historian at Ekopak
- Building a Smart Factory MES for Helioscreen
- A new data management solution for Algist Bruggeman