Smart Factories Pay Off

EP Editorial Staff | March 1, 2023

Cloud-based data management and SaaS solutions deliver time-to-value, insights, and real-time connectivity required for true digital transformation.

By Tim Sowell, AVEVA

Industrial companies are investing in digitalization and transformation to deepen their business insight by providing a broader group of stakeholders with the industrial data they need to make better, faster decisions. According to analysts at IDC, Needham, MA (, the global datasphere reached 64.2 zettabytes by the end of 2020. With one zettabyte equivalent to a trillion gigabytes, that’s a mind-blowing amount of information. Statista, Hamburg, Germany (, estimates the number reached 79zb in 2021 and will grow to 181zb by 2025. 

Unfortunately, the data is rarely exploited to its full potential as not all information is captured, stored, and analyzed. What is recorded is often stockpiled at the point of collection, limiting its benefits to those with local data access. The key to maximizing data value is making it accessible to more decision makers, more applications, and more analysis tools, no matter where they’re located. 

Digitalization challenges

Simply unlocking data is not enough to meet the efficiency and sustainability needs of the future. End users need deeper insights enabled by technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML). Organizations today cannot keep up with the latest advancements, or they adopt them with limited scalability. Industrial organizations may opt to build custom solutions from scratch on top of independent cloud platforms by integrating numerous cloud services. This is a slow and cumbersome option with disappointing results.

A much better approach is to leverage the experience of industrial software experts by implementing cloud-based data management and industrial software-as-a-service (SaaS) and hybrid SaaS solutions from a single cloud platform. By harnessing this, alongside the collaborative nature of cloud computing, a single ecosystem-wide connected landscape can be created, uniting previously siloed data streams into a trusted digital twin. 

Cloud-native data management gives industrial companies scalability to store, enrich, and analyze the increasing volume of industrial data. Once data is aggregated in the cloud, data scientists and business analysts can easily use cloud-based AI and ML tools to develop deeper insights and make informed decisions that increase efficiency and reduce costs. 

The underlying cloud infrastructure also ensures data security and makes it easy for companies to give trusted business partners, suppliers, and service providers real-time access to relevant information, supporting collaboration and enabling new business models. 

Efficiency and productivity

When industrial data is available outside of operational silos, it can generate a host of new Industry 4.0 use cases and benefits across the business, from the C-suite to plant-floor workers. Take Schneider Electric, Andover, MA (, for example. To date it has launched 11 smart factories across the Americas, Asia, and Europe. These sites leverage the industrial internet of things (IIoT), cloud, edge computing, and hybrid industrial SaaS solutions to deliver lean production capabilities and insights to drive new levels of process efficiency, sustainability, workforce agility, and resiliency.

Insights are not only made accessible, but related work instructions on the plant floor are updated in real-time in response, thanks to their hybrid cloud-based applications that simultaneously collect, analyze, and visualize performance and work process data. This approach supports faster, smarter decisions and a more agile workforce. 

Smart-factory benefits

Following adoption of these solutions on their industrial cloud platform, Schneider Electric was able to identify savings at their Kentucky-based U.S. site of 26% in energy usage, 20% in water use, and 78% in CO2 production. Furthermore, this single location has seen a 20% reduction in mean time to repair (MTTR) of critical equipment. Unplanned downtime has lowered by 6%. 

At its Batam, Indonesia, smart factory, the same approach has achieved a 21% energy saving, increased on-time customer delivery by 40%, and reduced downtime by 44%. “There’s no doubt that the Industry 4.0 capabilities we’ve applied have transformed our operations,” stated Wiranata Suganda, Plant Director for the Batam smart factory and digital transformation project leader, East Asia and Japan.

“By connecting shop floor to top floor, we have real-time performance tracking that wasn’t possible previously. The result now is quicker insight to enable faster decision making.” 

By adopting a cloud and SaaS approach that’s designed for and fully understands your industrial data, you can achieve new levels of productivity and efficiency through enhanced innovation, collaboration, and data-driven insights, driving growth and sustainability for your future. EP

Tim Sowell is Portfolio Architect and Strategist at AVEVA ( He has 35+ years of international experience in industrial software applications and development.


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