Here are some specific benefits of virtualisation which can be felt by manufacturing businesses.
- More effective and efficient utilisation of physical assets, such as pumps, motors and drives, which are often some of the most expensive items. Industrial systems need to provide information and allow operators to make the most of these assets, and making the change to this kind of architecture can directly increase their effectiveness.
- Consistent/standardised IT builds across the business. The ability to manipulate virtual machines makes the challenge of taking an existing system and replicating it again in a new location much easier.
- A reduction in management and maintenance costs. Often the consequences of downtime are so high that businesses are forced to invest heavily in resources to ensure systems remain repaired and in good health. Virtualisation and thin client technology allow this burden to be significantly reduced.
- The ability to more easily adjust the architecture (also known as scalability). Manufacturing systems are often subject to change, whether it is to accommodate new products or a change in the build process. Virtual systems are more flexible and allow these changes to be made more easily.
- The ability to create flexible testing and development environments, where new processes can be tried out without disruption to production. This is particularly relevant in the industrial world where change often has a direct impact of profitability, so the ability to do this faster in a safer environment is desirable.
- Potential legacy benefits. The operational lifecycle of manufacturing equipment is often measured in decades but operating systems change every few years. Virtualisation allows for the possibility of these applications to run on newer hardware in their original environment without forcing an upgrade.