Implementing Industry 4.0 and smart factory solutions in your manufacturing operation requires a fresh approach to solution delivery, platform implementation, and IT infrastructure. Central to most solutions is the use of cloud technologies, such as Microsoft Azure.
At SL Controls, we have extensive experience working with a range of cloud solution providers. Plus, we offer a service that is platform agnostic.
However, we favour the Microsoft Azure platform for building, deploying, and managing smart factory solutions in the cloud, particularly for companies in the life sciences and technology sectors. This is because of the range of features, scope, and flexibility of Azure, in addition to a range of other factors.
Microsoft Azure – the Basics
At its core, Microsoft Azure is a cloud computing platform. Azure makes it possible to build, implement, and manage solutions in the cloud. This makes Microsoft Azure a blend of platform as a service (PaaS) and infrastructure as a service (IaaS).
With Azure, it is possible to develop solutions that would have traditionally run on servers at your location, as well as new solutions that are only possible because of cloud and Azure-specific technologies.
Of course, Microsoft isn’t alone in the cloud computing market. There is a range of competitors, from new start-ups to some of the biggest companies in the world, including Amazon’s AWS offering and Google’s cloud platform.
Below are some of the reasons our leadership team, senior engineers, and project managers at SL Controls prioritise Microsoft Azure where practical.
Minimises the Hardware You Need On-Site
Production machines, equipment, sensors, platforms, and systems can all be connected to the Azure cloud and integrated to deliver on your requirements.
Hybrid Cloud Compatible
Azure solutions can be developed to meet the needs of your business, whether that means solutions on one cloud, across multiple clouds, at your location, or at the edge (i.e., at or close to the source of your data).
The hybrid computing capabilities of Azure allow you to create private cloud infrastructure using Azure Networking, enabling compliance at all levels. This is particularly beneficial for manufacturers in the life sciences sector, including those in the pharmaceutical and medical device industries.
Applications that your company may already use are fully integrated with Microsoft Azure. This includes Outlook, SharePoint, Teams, and Office 365. This reduces the learning curve, so helps with the implementation of new solutions and systems.
The Highest Levels of Security
Starting with password security, Microsoft Azure has a single sign-on feature. This makes it easier to manage large numbers of users. It also makes it easier for people in your organisation to access their platforms, systems, applications, and data without a complex set of passwords to remember.
Plus, you can implement even greater levels of control over access as required. For example, you can make access to parts of your system either device or location-specific, reducing the potential for unauthorised access.
Azure also benefits from Microsoft’s advanced threat management and enterprise-level security.
In addition, Microsoft takes a proactive approach to compliance in relation to its Azure platform, and it invests significantly in security. According to the latest figures from the company, it invests USD $1 billion every year protecting the data of its customers.
High Levels of Flexibility, Helping to Future-Proof Your Organisation
Microsoft Azure is fully scalable according to business requirements as you move further down the digital transformation and Smart Factory journey.
The platform also supports all programming languages and development frameworks, ensuring flexibility in the development process when creating the new solutions that your business needs.
Backup and Data Recovery
Microsoft Azure has a Geo-Redundant Storage feature. This means backups of your data are automatically stored in data centres in a different geographical region than the data centre location of your main system. So, if something happens with the data centres in your region, a backup will still exist.
Microsoft Azure is a core part of the company’s business, and it has committed to continually developing and improving the platform.
At SL Controls, our only goal is to develop solutions that meet your requirements. If you need solutions built on different cloud platforms or technologies, we have the skills and capabilities that are required.
Many companies in the life sciences and technology sectors already use Microsoft platforms, solutions, and technologies, including Azure. This, combined with our experience developing and implementing new and innovative Industry 4.0 solutions, means we have confidence in the Azure platform to deliver on the rapidly evolving requirements of manufacturing companies.