Virtual Machines and the Plant Floor

By: Alex Marcy on April 15, 2015
Tagged: Education

Technology is constantly changing

Computers are more powerful than ever. You can access just about anything in the world on your phone, soon even your wrist.

In the manufacturing world computer hardware has overcome the requirements of most software packages. This means when you need to buy a new computer, instead of running it to the max like you would have 3 or 4 years ago, you may only be using 10-20% of the hardware's capacity.

Companies like VMWare and Microsoft have developed a way to utilize the unused resources using virtual machines.

Virtual Machines are computers running on software designed to imitate physical hardware.

In the same way you can run multiple programs at one time on your PC, with virtual machines, you can run multiple computers on one PC — at the same time.

Virtual machines used in this way let you:

  • Utilize more of your hardware's resources
  • Consolidate multiple physical computers into one
  • Swap between computers with no downtime

Decrease IT Overhead

When you need to set up a new machine, you call IT, requisition the hardware, and let them spend a day or two installing all of the software you need.

With a virtual machine you can get a new computer up and running by simply copying a file and opening it.

Have an old computer you need for only one piece of equipment?

Replace it with a virtual machine

Need multiple versions of your software but they don't play well together?

Use virtual machines

Want to test a new software version without breaking anything?

Do it with a virtual machine

Leveraging Virtual Machines

What systems do you need to maintain your process effectively? Maybe you have different PLCs throughout the plant, different HMI systems, or some specialty software for calibrating instruments.

This is the situation we find ourselves in every day. Different customers have different systems and we need to be able to support any of them at a moment's notice.

Staying up to date with the latest releases is critical, and dealing with different versions of software without breaking existing installations can be a nightmare.

Virtual machines eliminate these problems entirely.

We have virtual machines ready to go for any software we use. If we want to start working with a new package, we have machines with clean operating systems ready to go.

If a new software release is incompatible with an old version we create a new virtual machine to support it.

Think of us like a maintenance department covering a very wide array of systems. Would you want to make your maintenance department's life easier, with very little cost? Look into virtual machines.

Recent Posts: