Aiming to ease the complexity of enabling the smart factory, HPE announced the availability of its Express App Platform for manufacturers, which enables companies to more easily integrate plant floor systems with IoT data to allow workers to consume IoT data within the context of the processes they run.
The offering also aims to ease the deployment of new manufacturing- and production-related applications by including integration with HPE’s Cloud28+ environment, its catalogue of cloud services and partners.
In all, the announcements further build out the leg of the HPE IoT strategy that the company calls the “intelligent edge,” in which it seeks to build a new class of edge server products that bridge hybrid IT deployments of existing systems and IoT data at the so-called edge.
“We’ve added a new category into the intelligent edge. We can go into the manufacturing facility, and we can now run all the factory IT in a specialized, mission-critical, high-availability environment,” said Colin l’Anson, who, as an HPE Fellow, is responsible for the technology direction of the HPE IoT program and the creator of Cloud28+. “Bringing IoT insights to the control systems to the human beings who run the factory is very critical. This brings the ability to bring digitization into manufacturing.”
HPE’s Express App Platform — Manufacturing comes as a pretested, preloaded, preintegrated system (think appliance), combining the HPE ProLiant DL380 Gen9 Server — with software. It is sold to line-of-business (LOB) managers, such as the vice president of engineering, the general manager of the factory or the head of production, according to l’Anson. A “mini cloud” hosts the IT systems (like the manufacturing execution system, advanced planning and scheduling software, etc.) that run individual production lines within those factories and the IoT applications on the same server.
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Running those applications directly on the factory floor allows manufacturers to better integrate operations management with machine control systems to leverage IoT sensor data intelligence for agile automation of production processes, according to a press release from HPE.
“What they have is a box that sits at the end of production line that runs IT,” l’Anson said.
Deepening reach into that LOB audience, on the software side, HPE has built out its Cloud28+ environment — a catalogue and community of cloud services and software providers — with 74 applications relevant to factory, as well as prebuilt integrations with its Express App Platform. The Express App Platform Intelligent Agent securely downloads selected applications and leverages container technology to automatically deploy the application in the Express App Platform environment on the factory floor, in a few clicks. Infrastructure automation software, HPE OneView, automates the provisioning and management of the required compute, storage and fabric resources. During operation, built-in backup and disaster recovery ensures data integrity and availability.
The solution is currently deployed internally in Geneva, l’Anson said, who added that interest in the HPE IoT solution has surged since the offering was released.
“We do what we promise to deliver,” said l’Anson, a 37-year veteran of HPE.