The Plant Services 2015 Disruptive Technology series is a quarterly look at technology innovations that are generating rapid changes in how plant managers and engineers approach their jobs. The series continues this month by investigating the ways that maintenance and reliability professionals are balancing the benefits of cloud-based technologies and applications with the risks – both perceived and real.
Are you and your plant ready for the cloud? Whether the cloud is addressed directly by name or folded into the conversation as "remote management" or "managed services," the industry is buzzing so much lately about the potential of cloud-based technologies to drive new benefits across the plant that it feels like a comeback of sorts is in the air.
Plant Services recently spoke with a range of industry experts to investigate what impact that the cloud is having on both asset management and condition-based maintenance (CBM), from the benefits being enjoyed by early cloud adopters to the challenges and considerations commonly experienced by plant teams on their journey to and through the cloud.
"Reliability is sort of the hot spot for cloud-based services or cloud-based models in the process industries," says Mike Boudreaux, director of remote asset monitoring and analytics at Emerson Process Management. "The cloud itself is becoming a place where you can start small at a low-cost entry point and scale very big. Just getting access to computing resources and being able to deploy them very rapidly is one of the benefits of being in the cloud."
Boudreaux sees five specific drivers moving plant managers in the direction of cloud technology and remote monitoring services:
- Low-cost, highly scalable cloud-based storage and processing capability
- Innovative, lower-cost deployments of sensor technology, generally enabled by wireless capability
- More out-of-the-box connectivity solutions to the cloud
- The ability to connect experts to your data wherever they are and to do that in a sustainable way
- Collaboration capabilities enabled by mobile technology.
Other industry professionals echoed Boudreaux's sentiments, responding to a question about the cloud's potential with a single key query of their own: Is the cloud ready for you?