The automotive industry is one of the most established sectors in Europe, considering both the amount of revenues and process innovation. It’s one of the industries that contribute most of the GDP in the continent. Its exports overcome by far its imports and it’s also the biggest private investor in R+D in Europe.
However, the future development of an industry depends on its ability to achieve new efficiency levels. The PwC report recognizes it: “Hot topics for the automotive industry in Spain 2013” where it warns about the risk for the industry in case it goes on operating as “a big workshop”: “It will be difficult for the industry to play a key role at the international level or for Spanish plants to get relevant projects without an step ahead in innovation… It seems that the current model can keep the workload planned for coming years, but we should wonder whether this is sustainable on the mid and long term”.
Despite being one of the most technology intensive sectors, among issues affecting the industry there’s the impact of downtimes over productivity.
But, how can we achieve new uptime levels?
On average, according to estimations of Meta Group consultants, one hour of downtime costs €541,616. So the difference between a continuity of 99.9% and a 99.999%, although apparently negligible, increases losses from €4,744,556 a year to only €45,134. In view of these figures, High Availability is much more than an improvement; it’s a must for the industry.
Although in general terms an always-on architecture has a rather standardized design, the premise is that each plant needs a specific configuration. Fault tolerant servers, virtual machines, remote desktop oriented Client/Server architectures, thin clients, virtualization for industries in the cloud or change management technology with solutions available for the industry that should be evaluated and implemented gradually but also continuously.
The highly needed production system maintenance, the continuous manufacturing dynamics because of the high market demand, the relevance of automotive plant protection due to the expensive asset configuration, as well as its complex use and the optimization of energy sources at the processes –electricity, gas, steam, air, cooling…–, make of high availability the most suitable answer to the challenges currently faced by the automotive industry. According to the ARC Advisory Group consultants, the global industry losses about 5% of its annual output, or €15 billion, as a consequence of unscheduled downtimes and production quality failures, being predictable situations and avoidable in 80% of cases.