Manufacturers’ margins and market share are at risk if they don’t find new ways to improve production efficiency. New technologies will support these efforts but leveraging them to their fullest presents difficulties in the way of added complexities and costs.

Most manufacturers analyze live data, use scalable infrastructures and adopt a lean mindset to help them identify root problems that keep them from improving efficiency. They have experience grappling with traditional challenges, including:        

  • sub-optimal process design
  • aging and improperly maintained machinery
  •  increasingly complex machinery with fragile integration
  •  unplanned events in the supply chain
  • equipment and human failures
  • skills and labor shortages

Over the years, manufacturers have developed, refined and integrated responses to minimize such problems. For example, adding extra shifts or more dynamic scheduling systems could help maintain output, and continuous improvement teams could discover processes in need of automation and quality assurance.

But as they pursue creating a software-defined and platform-driven business to help create more efficiencies, they are now further challenged by increased technology complexity and the bloated costs that come with modernizing networks, integrating software, securing systems and otherwise operating a growing IT infrastructure.

Manufacturers are spending more time trying to understand what software-defined and platform-driven approaches mean for their environments. They are questioning whether their business is engineered for this new world. 

Manufacturers are spending more time trying to understand what software-defined and platform-driven approaches mean for their environments. They are questioning whether their business is engineered for this new world. They are unsure if they have an attainable vision for winning with software, AI, cloud computing and real-time data.

Reaching an inflection point

Companies have seen meaningful and measurable results for their initial Industry 4.0 efforts, leveraging IoT, analytics, machine learning, generative AI, 5G, cloud, integration software, augmented reality, robotics and additive manufacturing to drive new efficiencies. The digital and mechanical solutions we refer to as smart or connected factories, smart supply chains and logistics 4.0 have had real bottom-line impact, but often that has come from harvesting low-hanging fruit, for which business cases have been well-established.

Trying to get to the next level of efficiency without a clear path to value and near-term ROI makes it harder to justify more challenging investments to create new digital operating models based on platforms and software-defined systems.

Costs add up fast

After all, it’s no small thing to implement an end-to-end, secure and fully supported Industry 4.0 solution, which can require over 20 different pieces of software from multiple vendors. The architecture is complex, from IoT systems running on the factory floor to data analytics and presentation systems running in corporate data centers or the cloud. The security and integration architectures must provide a holistic authentication and access control service and integrate with many different protocols and systems, such as manufacturing execution and enterprise resource planning software.

Using multiple vendors, an array of different software and different protocols make Industry 4.0 solutions expensive, take longer to implement, and be more challenging to support and harder to scale.

Too many businesses are still stuck with partially packaged solutions that use some existing corporate IT tools, or virtualized versions of them in the cloud. In the end this does not reduce complexity enough to achieve the benefit and timely return on investments that companies require.

A hyperscaler-native strategy allows companies to develop an entire Industry 4.0 solution on a hyperscaler’s platform

The hyperscaler-native strategy

A hyperscaler-native strategy allows companies to develop an entire Industry 4.0 solution on a hyperscaler’s platform – from edge to cloud – more easily and with less expense. The term “native” in this case means using a hyperscaler’s serverless services. No VMs, EC2, compute engine services, Vnets or VPCs. The maturity and flexibility of these pure cloud-native services makes it feasible to manage these components and capabilities on or through the hyperscaler platform:

  • sensors, cameras and machine data collection
  • extract, load and transform services
  •  databases, data analytics and machine learning
  • integration, user interface and presentation layer
  • security, monitoring and release management

The interconnectivity and platform-enabled information flow across each of these services, data movement and workflow control are also performed by hyperscaler-native services. Beyond the benefits of simplifying the solution architecture and reducing vendor management requirements, each native service is secure by design, highly resilient, easy to scale, well-supported and evergreen. Each also offers pay-as-you-use pricing.

Using hyperscalers in this way reduces the entry cost and total cost of ownership compared to traditional multi-software solutions, even when that software is hosted on cloud compute. It also significantly reduces the time to deploy solutions and makes scaling as simple as a few clicks.

DXC's hyperscaler-native strategy

DXC has applied this strategy by building an end-to-end smart production and distribution platform on AWS and Microsoft Azure. The platform accelerates time to value to help our manufacturing customers achieve improvements in their production and distribution processes faster.

Global businesses rely on our advisory, design and engineering services, and our cloud approach for accelerating transformation by making the right technology investments at the right time on the right platforms. Such strategic investments set the path for driving positive business outcomes in the way of cost, execution and agile delivery models. Companies take advantage of our pre-built, ready-to-use and fully-managed solution accelerators for their industrial process improvements. The solution accelerators deliver a sub-set of the distribution platform for specific use cases within production and distribution processes. The accelerators can be deployed in as little as one hour using pre-configured templates at a low entry cost, configured to a customer’s specific requirements and scaled in-line with a benefit use case.

To learn more about DXC’s manufacturing solutions, watch this video, review this interactive guide and read this ebook.  

Learn more about DXC Cloud and DXC Manufacturing.

About the author

About the author

Russell Duggan-Rees is  global smart manufacturing chief technologist at DXC. He sets the strategy for Industry 4.0 solutions for customers’ factories, and develops and governs reference architecture, services, product selection and partnerships.  An enterprise architect with 22 years of experience in the IT industry, Russell has led the development of IT and digital strategies for large global companies, and the architectural design of many high-profile solutions for the UK government and manufacturers.