Microsoft Azure is a cloud platform offering hundreds of packaged services across a range of areas that help manufacturers. This can be as simple as scalable computing power to run bespoke artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) models, enhanced storage and access capability and a range of out of the box Internet of Things (IoT) services for manufacturing.

The broad adoption of smart sensor technology, connectivity improvements and advancements in cloud computing have helped drive adoption, and evolution of IoT is poised to have a major impact on manufacturing and the global economy, projected to create £11 trillion of global GDP by 2030.

There are a number of Azure IoT services designed specifically for manufacturing:

Azure IoT connected manufacturing

Microsoft’s Connected Factory solution brings end-to-end production visibility within reach. By connecting existing assets and equipment across global locations, manufactures are able to collect live performance data without disrupting production. The solution is quick, easy to set up, and get started with, allowing manufacturers to go at their own pace.

Connected Factory’s global summary dashboard aggregates performance data to provide a holistic view of equipment efficiency and key performance indicators.

This enables manufacturers to measure performance across multiple factory environments and compare equivalent machines across sites. With this information, businesses gain insights into: what the leading factors affecting performance variation among factories are and what measures can be used to optimise performance across all sites.

Azure IoT predictive maintenance

The Azure IoT Predictive Maintenance solution gives you better visibility into equipment status, letting you resolve issues before they disrupt your business. Monitor your assets in near-real time by collecting data through Azure IoT solution accelerators. This allows you to create automatic alerts and actions, such as remote diagnostics, maintenance requests and other workflows. The solution allows you to then perform historical analysis of your data so you can predict when you need to service equipment.

Azure IoT remote monitoring

With the Azure IoT Remote Monitoring solution you can monitor assets from afar. The solution helps you understand equipment conditions, enabling you to provide over the wire updates and fine-tune processes.

To optimise business processes in the long term, the solution applies analytics techniques, such as machine learning, to your data. The smart system performs in-operation analysis to find correlations across multiple data streams – allowing you to improve costs, uptime, and product quality. Plus, you can leverage new predictive maintenance programs to perform historical analysis of your data and resolve issues before they disrupt your business.

Modelling & testing

Azure also offers a wide range of other services that provide great value for manufacturers. Using the AutoML, high-performance compute, and virtual machines (VM) solutions available from Azure, businesses can easily run complex modelling solutions for low initial investment.

Testing – Using AI powered models we can now create a digital twin of products that we can then run simulations on. It is then possible to test how these products will react to real world factors. This is particularly effective for complex technology and extreme circumstances. This is much newer than you might think…, Ford only started trialling this in 2017! Before this, cars were made by creating a clay model and putting it in a wind tunnel, they are now building a digital twin and interacting with it using augmented reality (AR). This can all be done digitally, allowing much quicker development cycles.

Advanced materials – Computer modelling tools now enable companies to design materials with the exact properties they’re seeking, in a much more efficient and cost-effective manner than traditional R&D trials.

 

Download our guide The Future of Manufacturing, to understand the Microsoft tools available to support manufacturers.

 

Contact us to discuss Azure, IoT or modelling/testing.