Oracle beefs up its IoT efforts in smart factories push

Oracle beefs up its IoT efforts in smart factories push

Oracle beefs up IoT efforts in smart factory push

Oracle has announced a tie-up with Mitsubishi Electric on smart manufacturing and new AI and machine learning enhancements to its Oracle IoT Cloud offering.

Tech giant Oracle has announced a collaboration with Japanese electronics and electrical equipment manufacturer Mitsubishi Electric to develop an IoT platform for smart manufacturing.

Mitsubishi Electric, it seems, has used Oracle’s cloud technologies to develop a new platform for factory automation, FA-IT Open Platform, which uses edge computing to collect data from machinery and business applications and analyse it on production sites.

The idea here is that Mitsubishi Electric, along with other third-party software partners, can use FA-IT Open Platform to create new applications for manufacturing-sector customers, presumably offering them on a software-as-a-service basis. At the platform’s heart are a number of Oracle technologies, including Oracle Database Cloud, Oracle IoT Cloud, Oracle BI Cloud and Oracle IoT Production Monitoring Cloud.

“Mitsubishi Electric develops advanced technologies and products for rapidly emerging factory automation,” said Toshiya Takahashi, corporate executive group senior vice president for factory automation systems at Mitsubishi Electric Corporation. “By adding Oracle Cloud services to this platform, we believe that it will be possible to visualize factories and build an application development environment. In order to provide the platform to customers early, we will also work with partner companies, including IT companies, to develop applications utilizing the platform.”

Developing such IoT systems from scratch, the two companies believe, is a task that few manufacturers are willing take on their own. Instead, the partners are planning to help them speed up the process by offering ready-to-use smart factory apps.

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Significant enhancements

Oracle has also announced what it terms “significant enhancements” to its Oracle IoT Cloud, to include built-in artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning capabilities to power so-called digital twin and digital thread capabilities.

The company’s Digital Twin offering gives manufacturers a digital representation of physical assets and equipment, allowing them to see current, historical and predictive data that relates to them, so that they can monitor the health of an asset (a piece of machinery, for example) and how it’s performing. They can also perform ‘what-if’ scenarios, to simulate, for example, what the impact would be on business performance if that asset was taken out of action or, indeed, deployed on more jobs.

The Digital Thread offering, meanwhile, provides a connected business process framework that feeds data from supply chain management (SCM) and enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems, along with assets, so that they can track an asset throughout the entire supply chain process, “from product design and order fulfillment, to manufacturing and product lifecycle management, to warehousing and transportation, to logistics and procurement.”

Oracle also introduced new industry solutions for digital field service, smart connected factories and digital fleet management.

“IoT holds the potential to transform today’s siloed operations into a modern, interconnected, digital set of workflows with real-time visibility and responsiveness,” said Bhagat Nainani, group vice president of IoT applications at Oracle. “Oracle continues to push the boundaries of IoT to help our customers significantly simplify their IoT deployments. By receiving real-time data streams enhanced with predictive insights, they can reach new levels of intelligence and a much quicker realization of ROI.”

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Standardization: challenges ahead

Oracle has been staging something of a push on its IoT efforts lately, as have rivals such as SAP and Infor. What these companies, and others, are aiming for is an approach that melds data from devices and sensors with that held in the enterprise applications that make up the bulk of their revenues. The argument is this: IoT devices collect a lot of data, but companies that deploy them don’t currently get enough value back from them – and they won’t, unless they can tie that information in with the data that sits in back-end operational systems.

One of the biggest challenges here, however, is that many manufacturers – particularly large, multinational ones – don’t have a single ERP or SCM platform. They have countless systems, running in siloes, in different regions and individual manufacturing plants. Consequently, the effort to persuade them to standardize on single, global platforms looks set to continue for Oracle and others.  

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