Deloitte’s Global Smart Factory Fuels Manufacturing Innovation with AWS

Executive Summary

The Deloitte Smart Factory showcases best-in-class technologies to manufacturing customers thanks to AWS. As an AWS Global System Integrator (GSI) partner, Deloitte Germany migrated the Smart Factory’s infrastructure to AWS, boosting its ability to innovate and expand globally.

Deloitte’s Global Smart Factory Fuels Manufacturing Innovation with AWS

The Deloitte Smart Factory, based in Dusseldorf, Germany, was created in 2017 to showcase the latest technologies that can help transform and drive innovation in manufacturing operations. As well as seeing these technologies in action, industrial customers can work with the Deloitte Smart Factory to create custom-made solutions based on these technologies. But with growing technology demands, the Smart Factory faced challenges to show customers the best technology available. Its existing infrastructure didn’t provide the necessary speed, efficiency or ability to innovate. To create the infrastructure it needed to support its industrial customers, the Smart Factory team turned to the in-house expertise of Deloitte Germany, an AWS Global System Integrator (GSI) partner, to migrate to AWS. 

“We wanted to have a very light investment on the asset side and a big investment on the technology side.”

- Britta Mittlefehldt, Director and Head of The Deloitte Smart Factory, Germany

Integrating Key Technologies on AWS

The Smart Factory previously ran its operations on a Deloitte on-premises data center in the US. With the Smart Factory located in Dusseldorf, Germany, the fact that the infrastructure wasn’t local was creating issues around latency and the provisioning of new services. To streamline the Smart Factory’s existing multi-location environment, Deloitte Germany designed a new service-oriented architecture based on Amazon Elastic Cloud Compute (Amazon EC2) and Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3). Deloitte moved the Smart Factory’s S4/HANA digital core and integrated SAP ME connected digital platform to AWS, where they could be easily integrated with technologies such as machine learning, IoT (using AWS IoT Core), Free RTOS (real-time operating system for microcontrollers) and visualization. This meant the Deloitte Smart Factory could more effectively demonstrate the technology manufacturers are increasingly investing in.

A Digital Backbone

By moving to AWS, the Smart Factory team created a digital backbone to support the rapid roll-out of new solutions and adapt to new technologies and trends. At the same time, it was able to keep operating costs as low as possible. Britta Mittlefehldt, Director and Head of the Deloitte Smart Factory in Dusseldorf, explains that the team wanted to make flexible investments on the IT asset side which could support the more advanced industrial technology and functionality that customers are interested in. The new setup gives the Smart Factory the ability to quickly add new capabilities and services, according to Dejan Boberic, Tech Lead of the Smart Factory: “With AWS, we’re able to deploy and maintain compute and network resources with significantly less effort, and with less operational expertise than with the on-premises data center.” The Smart Factory’s entire technology stack is built using AWS services, and also includes AWS Lambda to run code without the need to manually set up new servers or clusters, Amazon QuickSight for business intelligence dashboards, and Amazon Kinesis Data Firehose to prepare and load real-time data streams into data stores and analytics services.

“With AWS, we’re able to deploy and maintain compute and network resources with significantly less effort, and with less operational expertise than with the on-premises data center.

-  Dejan Boberic, Tech Lead, Smart Factory

Speed and Innovation

Thanks to the flexibility and ease of adding new services, the Smart Factory team is now able to create Industry 4.0 solutions much more quickly, and be more innovative and efficient in deploying them for customers. They halved the time needed to ramp up new use cases from an average of six months to three months – depending on the complexity. Using AWS for the Smart Factory offers higher performance compared to the on-premises infrastructure it replaced. It also offers lower latency, as the workloads are now run in the AWS facility in Frankfurt, rather than the other side of the Atlantic. With its on-demand compute capabilities, AWS allows the Smart Factory to conduct quick and easy experiments to evaluate new solutions that may be useful to its customers. “With AWS, we can try out technologies and solutions in a factory environment, and see if it’s something that is feasible and might benefit our customers,” says Boberic. For example, Amazon Lookout for Vision—which spots product defects using computer vision to automate quality inspection—could detect a quality error in a car assembly line so it can be addressed during production, rather than causing problems at the end.

Big in Japan

The fact that AWS has data centers all around the world, combined with low-latency modules close to the shop floor, has allowed the German Smart Factory team to roll out the capabilities to support a new Smart Factory in Japan with much less effort than an on-premises approach. “For availability and latency reasons it is best practice to use local systems. With AWS it is much easier to roll systems out to other regions than it would have been if we’d just built an on-premises data center in Japan,” says Boberic. Boberic estimates that setting up a new Smart Factory using the old infrastructure would have taken three times as many resources and potentially resulted in a worse experience for the team in Japan. Managing and aligning the resources across Germany and Japan was made much easier, meaning the team could just take the blueprint for what they had in Germany and replicate it in Japan. Despite the global pandemic, having a system that everyone can access remotely meant Deloitte Germany was able to replicate the Smart Factory setup and ramp-up the same environment in Japan in a matter of months.

Expanding the Smart Factory Capabilities Globally

Based on the success in Japan, Deloitte plans to expand its Smart Factory program to other parts of the world. “We are now able to show our customers on a global basis how modern manufacturing companies today should operate,” says Mittlefehldt. Other plans include the Deloitte Digital’s Smart Factory Fabric, a pre-configured suite of cloud-based IoT applications designed to accelerate smart factory transformation that will use AWS. There are many more use cases to explore, with AWS able to provide the various technology components needed to create end-to-end capabilities. Thanks to its move to AWS, Deloitte can now provide an industry-grade enterprise system in the Smart Factory, with a comparably lean team. And with a solution that is “on par or superior to most of the solutions our customers are running,” according to Boberic, the company can better support the transformation ambitions of its industrial customers around the world.

Deloitte Smart Factory

About The Deloitte Smart Factory

The Deloitte Smart Factory provides a unique, innovative environment where manufacturing companies can experience Industry 4.0 solutions. More than 3,000 customers and partners over the last three years have been inspired by the Smart Factory and Deloitte is rolling out the concept internationally.

About Deloitte Germany

Deloitte is a global provider of audit and assurance, consulting, financial advisory, risk advisory, tax, and related services. Its global network of member firms and related entities in more than 150 countries and territories (collectively, the “Deloitte organization”) serves four out of five Fortune Global 500® companies.

Published September 2021