How can SMEs benefit from using High Performance Computing (HPC) Cloud?

How can SMEs benefit from using High Performance Computing (HPC) Cloud?

Growth in Europe is unthinkable without the 23 million small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). They represent 99.8 percent of all European companies and form the foundation for innovation, competition and jobs. SMEs provide two thirds of private sector jobs (almost 90 million) and contribute to more than half of the total added value created by businesses in the EU. Nine out of ten SMEs are actually micro enterprises with fewer than 10 employees. They account for nearly 30% of the total employment in this sector.[1] It is important to support these SMEs to develop their businesses in a sustainable way through innovation, processes optimisation, and increased competitiveness. The software and data processing capacity of HPC are a part of the digital transformation and a vital support of this process.

The daily challenges of SME managers and employees

  • Managers
  • Increase turnover, improve margins, reduce costs, invest capital, secure jobs, ensure competitiveness.
  • Production manager, production line manager, quality manager
  • Improve the efficiency of manufacturing and production lines, optimise raw material consumption, reduce rejection rates, reduce maintenance costs, avoid production line stoppages.
  • R&D managers and engineers
  • Reduce the costs and lead times of product design and validation testing, develop new innovative products, develop new optimised manufacturing processes.
  • Logistics, purchasing, and administration staff
  • Reduce stocks, decrease delivery costs and lead times, optimise the costs and guarantee the quality of raw materials, reduce administrative processes.
  • IT and ICT staff
  • Guarantee the security of data, ensure sufficient server capacity, create simple and easy-to-use processes.
  • Sales, marketing, product, and business development managers
  • Increase turnover, satisfy customers, improve customer services, win new customers, offer optimised, innovative and competitive products. Most SMEs are already engaged and have heard about the future digital transformation through the main topics of Industry 4.0 toward Industry 5.0, like ERP systems (Enterprise Resource Planning), CPS (Cyber-Physical System), IoT (Internet of Things), Digital Twins, predictive maintenance, industrial robotics, 3D printing, AI, Smart Data, HPDA (High Performance Data Analytics), Machine Learning, Deep Learning, Simulation, modelling and visualisation, etc.

    HPC Cloud can be applied in many SMEs’ departments

  • Production optimisation
  • Optimising production lines or specific machines can lead to an optimisation of OEE (Overall Equipment Effectiveness), an increase in capacity and a decrease in internal rejection rates for raw materials or finished products. Sensor technologies (e.g. IoT supported by tools and software such as ERP, CPS) and predictive maintenance can support production optimisation by collecting data transmitted by different production line equipment. This data enables the production parameters of machines to better sort, select, manage, control and finally to be adjusted which in turn can increase the efficiency and capacity of production lines and reduce the internal quality rejection rates, so eventually reducing the consumption of raw materials. Finally, the cost and lead time of manufactured products are optimised. The insights and greater control from production results can enable logistics and purchasing managers to be more accurate in logistic circuits by reducing lead times and reducing shipments processes of raw materials and finished products, by ordering optimisation of raw materials and also by decreasing storage quantities.
  • Research and development of new products
  • CFD and CAD/CAE software enables more complex fluid, mechanical, electrical, electromagnetic, temperature and humidity simulations to be performed. This can reduce costs and times for design and validation processes of new products according to specific requirements. Modelling CAE can be extended to whole or partial production lines, new products, systems, and tools testing to validate them before conception. Optimised product design can reduce costs and lead times of product development and production processes, also improve the quality of manufactured products. Optimised product design data can also be reused for similar future products and projects to compute optimal parameters and process data.
  • Marketing
  • Product and customer data processing and management can be used to optimise commercial and marketing strategies, adapting them to customer needs and requests.

    How European HPC Centres and their partners (software and code developers) can support SMEs

    To achieve the benefits descripted above, the tools and software used require a large server capacity with fast processing. This can be solved by using HPC Cloud services provided by European HPC centres that guarantee secure and confidential data transfer and use.

  • SMEs need support, expertise and training to use commercial and open source software (more adapted to the application and the products) for simulation, modelling and visualization on larger servers like HPC Cloud to reduce time and costs for the development and validation of new products and new production lines.
  • SMEs need support, expertise, training, tools, software to process and manage larger amounts of data on larger servers like HPC Cloud to better manage production lines, machines, raw materials, logistics and Customer Relationship Management.
  • The European Union organises communities such as PRACE, EuroCC, CASTIEL, FF4EuroHPC, SHAPE Access, ETP4HPC, and European Digital Innovation Hubs that can help SMEs to find training, events, funding, tools, software, experts and access to HPC via Cloud for data processing and management, simulations, modelling and visualisations as well as machine learning, deep learning and AI.
  • High-tech SMEs Even if they already use HPC, high-tech SMEs may want to develop more complex and innovative products and production processes which require more data processing and management, to perform more complex and faster simulations, modelling, visualisations in situ, and HPDA that require more server time and faster processing. They may want to reduce costs and delays by optimising their processing and data management with new tools, software, with the support of training and experts who can work with exascale HPC level (exaflops instead of petaflops from actual HPC) and can offer exascale HPC Cloud.
  • EXCELLERAT Centre of Excellence can help high-tech SMEs EXCELLERAT is the European Union’s Centre of Excellence for engineering. Join our community and register for free on our Service Portal to find partners, funding, tools, software, code, libraries, practice guides, training, events, and success stories that can help and inspire you to explore and improve your larger-scale data management and HPDA  as well as simulations, modelling, visualizations and HPDA on HPC Cloud. Other Centres of Excellence which specialise in e.g. medicine, chemistry, engineering, materials, environment, energy, and societal challenges can be found via FocusCoE.