Yokogawa and NTT Communications to develop shared-use OT cloud service to support digital transformation in the manufacturing industry

Yokogawa and NTT Communications have signed a business partnership agreement for the joint development and provision of a shared-use operational technology (OT) cloud service that will support digital transformation (DX) in the manufacturing industry through the fusion of Yokogawa and NTT Com’s respective strengths in OT and IT.

Based on this partnership, the two companies aim to adapt production control systems and manufacturing execution systems for use in cloud-based services, and then evolve these through the development of a shared-use OT cloud service.

Background

In recent years, the manufacturing industry has faced the challenge not only of dealing with soaring resource prices, fluctuations in supply and demand, and the development of high-quality products, but has also had to swiftly deal with changes in a diversifying business environment, such as the need to manufacture products that contribute to a decarbonised society. However, manufacturing facilities and the systems that control them are built in on-premises environments where the focus is on availability and the robustness needed to maintain non-stop operations, so dealing with immediate system-related changes is a significant challenge. To handle these issues, a system configuration that supports high flexibility is required.

The practice of moving systems into the cloud has become the dominant approach in the IT field. Through this partnership, the two companies will apply this practice to OT, and by providing a shared-use OT cloud service, will support DX in the manufacturing industry to drive forward improvements in manufacturing flexibility and data utilisation.

Overview of the Partnership

(1) Adaption of production control systems and manufacturing execution systems for cloud services

The two companies will migrate specific OT systems such as production control systems and manufacturing execution systems into the cloud so they can be provided as a service.

Yokogawa already offers services, including Yokogawa Cloud, which analyses facility data in the cloud and streamlines maintenance work. Through this partnership, specific OT systems will be adapted for use with NTT Com’s Smart Data Platform, which provides a one-stop solution for functions that are required to utilise a company’s data and maintain a high-security environment, and enables the swift handling of tasks such as system renewal, function expansion, and control-setting modification.

(2) Development and provision of shared-use OT cloud service

By adding OT–IT orchestration functions to the aforementioned cloud services for production-control and manufacturing-execution systems, the two companies aim to develop and provide a shared-use OT cloud service for collaboration between the production-control and manufacturing-execution systems of each user company. Not only will this make swift system renewals and on-demand functional enhancements a reality, it will also enable data sharing between users and lead to the optimisation of manufacturers’ entire supply chains.

For instance, by analysing data, manufacturing techniques can be identified that will help to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions not only for individual businesses, but also across entire supply chains.

(3) Expansion of partner network and user base of the shared-use OT cloud service

The two companies also aim to bring in additional partners who can make functional enhancements to the shared-use OT cloud service, and increase the number of users.

Hitoshi Nara, president & CEO of Yokogawa Electric Corporation said, “This partnership signifies an important collaborative relationship for the realisation of the system of systems concept that we are advocating. Through the provision of services that bring together both companies’ IT and OT, we will be able to integrate a variety of systems and thereby achieve an overall optimisation that will contribute to solving issues faced by our society.

Toru Maruoka, president & CEO of NTT Communications Corporation commented, “We will meet the high level of real-time performance, availability, and security requirements required for cloud-based plant-control systems by making use of our edge and centre distributed cloud systems as well as our low-latency networks. Through collaboration between the two companies, we will support the optimisation of the overall supply chain in the manufacturing sector and create an industrial model capable of contributing to the achievement of a sustainable society.

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