Speeding up digital factory transformation with faster application deployment in factory premises without disrupting ongoing operations. That’s what Hewlett Packard Enterprise promises to do with on-premises solution Express App Platform – Manufacturing.

While the major announcement on the first day of Barcelona’s IoT Solutions World Congress 2017 was for Intel with the launch of its Intel Secure Device Onboard (SDO), on the second day Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) announced a new IoT platform promising the acceleration of digital factory transformation.

Traditional manufacturing applications support a stable, yet rigid automation of production processes (Volkhard Bregulla, VP Global Manufacturing Industries HPE)

Express App Platform – Manufacturing is an on-premises solution for Industry 4.0 deployments for smart factory applications with a focus on Manufacturing Execution Systems and smart manufacturing operations. It is fully integrated with Cloud28+ and promises application deployment in factory premises with only six clicks as HPE states.

However, it’s about more than Cloud28+ and applications and is positioned as an out-of-the-box factory solution that brings together factory equipment apps, IoT and edge IT infrastructure.

Digital factory transformation - HPE Express App Platform – Manufacturing

Moreover, hardware is involved as are other applications and services. Although the Internet of Things (IoT) is essential, most of the current applications in Cloud28+ for application deployment in factory premises are about manufacturing operations. A deeper dive.

Tackling the challenges in digitizing manufacturing processes and integrating manufacturing systems

The digitization of manufacturing processes offers ample benefits in the several goals of digital transformation in manufacturing.

It’s one of the reasons why IoT investments and spending in manufacturing is highest of all industries, why digital transformation in manufacturing is high on the agenda to begin with, why the attention for the Industry 4.0 vision and reference architecture model (although that’s about more than manufacturing process digitization) has increased a lot and why Industrial Internet gets all the attention (the Industrial Internet Consortium is one of the key industrial Internet association partners of IoT Solutions World Congress 2017).

However, digitization of manufacturing processes obviously isn’t a walk in the park. As HPE says in the announcement of ‘Express App Platform – Manufacturing’, Manufacturing Execution Systems (MESs) are often complex and difficult to modernize.

Moreover, integration of the more modern MES, a market in full flux in these days of Industrial IoT, with several legacy systems in a context of factories isn’t easy either. Examples of such systems to integrate with: ERP, which sits on the enterprise planning level while the MES sits on the operations level as the illustration on vertical integration from our Industry 4.0 page below shows. Other examples of applications include MOM (Manufacturing Operations Management), PLM (Product Lifecycle Management), APS (Advanced Planning and Scheduling), WMS (Warehouse Management Systems) and of course CRM.

Industry 4.0 - vertical integration
The place of the MES and the ERP in the vertical integration perspective of Industry 4.0

Express App Platform – Manufacturing aims to make the deployment of and integration of next generation manufacturing execution systems  easier using the tools in the cloud app store for manufacturing.

So, enabling all this in an easier way and thus accelerating digital factory transformation as HPE puts is the reason why it launched on-premises solution Express App Platform – Manufacturing.

As said, Express App Platform – Manufacturing is integrated with HPE’s Cloud28+ enterprise app center. As a cloud aggregator, Cloud28+ has significantly grown the number of partners (service providers, system integrators, ISVs, distributors, solution providers and so forth) who can use it for enterprise apps.

According to the press release about the launch of Express App Platform – Manufacturing, Cloud28+ today counts about 600 in 56 countries who are good for over 21,000 ‘build and consume’ services.

As mentioned, from a manufacturing perspective today most are about operations and from an IoT perspective often about predictive maintenance and condition monitoring (you can check out all the services on Cloud28+ on its dedicated website).

HPE Express App Platform – Manufacturing visualized - courtesy HPE
HPE Express App Platform – Manufacturing – courtesy HPE

HPE Express App Platform – Manufacturing: what is in the proverbial box of the out-of-the-box factory solution

In a blog post in the HPE community, entitled “A new approach to integrating IoT in factories: Express App Platform – Manufacturing“, we read how, quote, “Express App Platform – Manufacturing, is designed to take away the pain of application deployment and unify the operation of legacy and smart factory operations”.

The Express App Platform – Manufacturing helps customers integrate smart-factory applications into their operations to create an adaptable factory without affecting the current foundation of their ongoing business (Volkhard Bregulla, VP Global Manufacturing Industries HPE)

The blog post describes what’s in the proverbial box of the solution that wants to simplify the integration of IoT and smart factory apps while continuing to run older applications:

  • A hyper-converged infrastructure based on HPE SimpliVity 380.
  • The Express App Platform Intelligent Agent, enabling a secure download of apps from Cloud28+. It uses Docker container technology to automatically deploy app in the Express App Platform environment on the factory floor.
  • HP OneView, enabling automatic factory resource provisioning and management.
  • Backup and disaster recovery within the environment.

So, as mentioned and just explained, Express App Platform – Manufacturing is on-premises and it does include quite a bit, making it fit for manufacturers with the budgets and intent to digitize, optimize and transform fast.

The solutions can also be used with HPE Edgeline IoT systems and HPE Pointnext offers services for the planning, architecting and integrating of the Express App Platform environment with machine control systems and enterprise applications.

Check out the blog post for all the supported application types in the ISA-95 reference model.

Express App Platform – Manufacturing is available as from now in the EMEA region and will be globally available before end 2017. Do note that HPE’s services organization, HPE Pointnext, helps in deployment and integration, configuration and more, hand in hand with your internal teams.

A full HPE Express App Platform – Manufacturing solution brief from HPE Pointnext here (PDF opens).


Top image: Shutterstock – Copyright: xieyuliang – all other images belong to their mentioned owners. We have no commercial relationships with HPE.