Industrial Automation as a Cloud Service

Tamir Hegazy, Mohamed Hefeeda

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

47 Citations (Scopus)


New cloud services are being developed to support a wide variety of real-life applications. In this paper, we introduce a new cloud service: industrial automation, which includes different functionalities from feedback control and telemetry to plant optimization and enterprise management. We focus our study on the feedback control layer as the most time-critical and demanding functionality. Today's large-scale industrial automation projects are expensive and time-consuming. Hence, we propose a new cloud-based automation architecture, and we analyze cost and time savings under the proposed architecture. We show that significant cost and time savings can be achieved, mainly due to the virtualization of controllers and the reduction of hardware cost and associated labor. However, the major difficulties in providing cloud-based industrial automation systems are timeliness and reliability. Offering automation functionalities from the cloud over the Internet puts the controlled processes at risk due to varying communication delays and potential failure of virtual machines and/or links. Thus, we design an adaptive delay compensator and a distributed fault tolerance algorithm to mitigate delays and failures, respectively. We theoretically analyze the performance of the proposed architecture when compared to the traditional systems and prove zero or negligible change in performance. To experimentally evaluate our approach, we implement our controllers on commercial clouds and use them to control: (i) a physical model of a solar power plant, where we show that the fault-Tolerance algorithm effectively makes the system unaware of faults, and (ii) industry-standard emulation with large injected delays and disturbances, where we show that the proposed cloud-based controllers perform indistinguishably from the best-known counterparts: local controllers.

Original languageEnglish
Article number6908023
Pages (from-to)2750-2763
Number of pages14
JournalIEEE Transactions on Parallel and Distributed Systems
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2015



  • Cloud Computing
  • Delay Compensation
  • Fault Tolerance
  • Feedback Control
  • Industrial Automation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Signal Processing
  • Hardware and Architecture
  • Computational Theory and Mathematics

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