Why Mission-Critical Industries Need Custom Industrial Data Platforms Poonam Chug May 27, 2024

Why Mission-Critical Industries Need Custom Industrial Data Platforms

Every significant industrial advancement in human history was propelled by a catalyst that unlocked new productivity levels. In the early 19th Century, the steam engine began the first industrial revolution. In the years since, modern power sources and the arrival of computers added further gains to human industrial output. Throughout all this advancement, the energy and manufacturing industries have continued to be major drivers of global economic output. Aided by a favourable geopolitical climate and increasing consumption, manufacturing is now estimated to account for roughly 17.5% of global GDP.

Today, data and AI are powering a new wave of industrial innovation called Industry 4.0. Using advanced sensors and data analytics platforms, companies in the energy and manufacturing sectors have unlocked additional operational efficiency. For example, predictive maintenance, an activity enabled by these technologies, has helped organizations increase asset lifespan by up to 40% and reduce downtime up to 50%. The global Internet of Things (IoT) market in energy alone is expected to hit 35.2 billion USD by 2025, and IoT is expected to unlock the most economic potential in factories by 2030.

As part of this modernization, the amount of data produced by these legacy industries has exploded. On top of data from ERP and CRM tools, data is continuously streamed from IoT sensors and CCTV cameras. This has escalated the complexity of data collection and management to unprecedented levels. With such a diverse array of data types streaming in from many devices and systems, off-the-shelf data management solutions are often inadequate for the specialized needs of these industries. Outside of operational efficiencies, proper data management also provides long-term upsides in revenue, safety, and sustainability.

Custom-built industrial data platforms are ideal for mission-critical industries like energy and manufacturing. Unlike generic data management systems, these platforms are engineered to cater to the intricate requirements of specific industries. They offer a multi-tiered approach to data management, integrating advanced analytics, artificial intelligence, machine learning, and edge computing to process, store, and analyze vast quantities of data.

The Unique Data Demands of Mission-Critical Industries

Comprehensive data management is necessary for the manufacturing and energy industries, mainly due to their global impact, regulatory requirements, and scale. In such a high-stakes environment, real-time decision-making requires swift analysis and action, leaving no room for delays. Regulatory compliance demands meticulous record-keeping and data management, ensuring that every piece of data can be accounted for and traced. Data security is another critical aspect, as any breach could have catastrophic consequences for the company.

The vast amount of data generated by these industries cannot be overstated. Each sensor, each machine, and each software application contributes data that must be collected, analyzed, and acted upon. This data is voluminous and varied in format and frequency, arriving from different sources at different speeds and requiring different processing methods.

For example, a manufacturing company may need to aggregate live feed from CCTV cameras on its production line to ensure proper use of safety equipment. It may also utilize camera footage and sensor data to pinpoint equipment malfunction quickly. This data must be processed, uploaded, analyzed, and presented to supervisors efficiently to serve the desired purpose.

Off-the-shelf data solutions fall short of addressing these complex needs. They lack the flexibility to adapt to the specific requirements of mission-critical industries, where customization is critical to handling unique workflows and data structures. Each industry participant may also have different safety and regulatory commitments and vastly different scales of operations, which need to be accounted for by generic data platforms.

Custom-built industrial data platforms are tailored to meet an organization’s exact specifications. They are designed from the ground up with the industry’s particular data sources, security needs, and decision-making processes in mind. These platforms can integrate seamlessly with existing machinery and software, providing a cohesive and efficient system for data management. They are scalable, able to grow and adapt as the company’s data needs evolve. Most importantly, they offer the security required for peace of mind in mission-critical operations.

FeatureReady-Made SolutionsCustom-Built Industrial Data Platforms
CustomizationGeneral features that may not fit all needsDesigned to meet specific industry requirements
ScalabilityLimited by the product’s designEngineered for expansion and flexibility
AdaptabilitySlow to adapt to new requirementsQuick adaptation to industry and regulatory changes
SecurityStandard security featuresAdvanced, industry-specific security measures
ComplianceMay require additional adjustmentsBuilt-in compliance with industry regulations

Benefits of Industrial Data Platforms

The advantages of a custom data platform continue beyond safety and regulatory benefits. Here are a few key benefits a custom solution offers:

Designed for discrete use cases

They can consider an organization’s data infrastructure and prevent siloing, ensuring all collected data is available for predictive and descriptive analytics. They can also be designed to work with different cloud infrastructures (such as Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform or Amazon Web Services) and tools. This consolidation is essential for better corporate governance of data and enhanced collaboration among users, which is vital in mission-critical operations where every second counts.

Set up for scale

They are engineered to sync with and grow with the organization. Custom solutions can integrate seamlessly with legacy systems in manufacturing or align with the grid management protocols in energy sectors, ensuring that the data flow is consistent and contextually relevant. These solutions can be set up to allow account owners to onboard and offboard users quickly and streamline projects with custom workspaces. They can also accommodate increased data loads without compromising performance, which is crucial in industries where the volume of data can surge unexpectedly due to market changes or operational expansions.

Created for easy compliance

They can be swiftly updated to reflect new industry standards or regulatory requirements, providing businesses with a competitive edge in compliance and adaptability. Since these platforms account for industry-specific security needs, they often exceed the baseline protections offered by off-the-shelf solutions. They can integrate easily with industry-standard security protocols (like SSO services) and be fortified with advanced security measures tailored to the sensitive nature of industrial data.

Overcoming the Challenges of Developing Industrial Data Platforms

While building a customized data platform is the obvious choice for large-scale industries to unlock additional value, it is a complex exercise. In this context, it is vital that organizations in the manufacturing and energy sectors view this adoption as a strategic investment for future growth and not just a ‘modernization exercise’. With the right expectations, building a custom data platform comes down to two things:

Finding the right partner for strategic implementation

In industries that rely on mission-critical tasks, technical expertise is only one part of a partner’s contribution. The right partner brings specific industry experience to the table, along with a collaborative spirit that aligns with the long-term vision of the enterprise. This is crucial because developing a custom platform is an ongoing investment in the company’s future. Viewing platform development through the lens of asset creation allows for a broader understanding of its value, encouraging sustained investment and attention to scalability, security, and integration with existing systems.

Investing in innovation

The ideal custom platform is designed to become the digital backbone of the enterprise, supporting everything from day-to-day operations to predictive maintenance and strategic planning. It must be expected to meet the unique needs of the enterprise for a sustained period, enabling precise data analysis, better decision-making, and a more agile response to market changes. With technical support that understands industry dynamics and emerging technologies, mission-critical tasks can go from potential points of failure to pillars for growth.

Ready to adopt a platform that supports your business ambition?

Investing in a bespoke industrial data platform is investing in the future. It is a strategic move beyond immediate gains, positioning companies to lead in a competitive and rapidly changing world. It demonstrates foresight and signifies a commitment to excellence, sending a clear signal to stakeholders and employees that a company is serious about harnessing the power of data.

With the help of the right partner, a robust data platform can be the bedrock upon which the future of industrial innovation is built.

Ready to transform your organization’s relationship with data? Schedule a demo of the Acuvate Data Platform today.