The Cloud is Spectacularly Transforming the Manufacturing Sector

The cloud has transformed many elements of the manufacturing sector and will continue to adapt it for years to come.

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We have talked about a number of changes that big data has created for the manufacturing sector. A number of manufacturers are relying more on analytics technology to streamline their operations.

Cloud computing involves using a network of remote internet servers to store, manage, and process data, instead of using a local server on a personal computer. 

The cloud is currently transforming almost every aspect of modern manufacturing, from how products are designed and how customers use the products to how manufacturers operate and how they integrate into supply chains.

Cloud computing is also helping manufacturing companies to reduce costs, innovate, and increase their competitiveness. The cloud enables manufacturers to use many new forms of production systems as well, from 3D printing and the Internet of Things to high-performance computing and industrial robots. Let us take a closer look at how the cloud can advance manufacturing operations.

How much is the manufacturing industry using cloud-technology?

A 2015 study by the market research company IDC, which surveyed almost 600 manufacturing enterprises from 17 countries, discovered more than 90% of global companies are using cloud computing in some part of their operations. The report also found 66% used public cloud implementation for two or more applications and 68% used a private cloud.

Furthermore, the report found cloud-hosting services are expected to account for almost half of all manufacturing software usage by manufacturing companies by the year 2023. According to market research firm Gartner, the manufacturing industry is currently in the middle of what it calls “the cloud shift,” meaning the transition from traditional IT services to cloud services.

Can Improve Productivity

One of the biggest ways that big data and cloud technology help with manufacturing is by boosting productivity. There are three major benefits that we highlighted here.

Cloud-based management of manufacturing-machines like CNC machinery and 3D printers can improve productivity by removing complex workflows and reducing the costs of installation. Productivity can also be increased because the cloud enables operation staff to access information, collaborate, and make updates in real time, all remotely. Therefore, manufacturing operations can be handled from multiple locations at any time.

Can Help to Provide Better Quality

Even small variances in machine performance can cause costly manufacturing disruption. But cloud technology helps you to develop customer scripting and maintain high levels of accuracy more easily. Also, with cloud technology’s ability to virtually simulate tooling and modeling, you can speed up trial productions and reduce waste. In turn, that will save you money. Another way that manufacturing firms are saving costs is by buying used metalwork machinery from reputable companies like Revelation Machinery. They have an extensive catalog of products ranging from saws and press-brakes to engine-lathes, as you can find in their website.

Greater Visibility

By adopting cloud-based machine management, you can monitor all of your manufacturing machines and their productive output in real time, from any place. That means machine operators can make faster and more informed decisions about machine capabilities. Having a greater visibility via the cloud also gives you insights into your supply chain. You can instantaneously see things like inventory, production levels, available capacity, order statuses, and quality levels with no delay.

Service Oriented Manufacturing

Because manufacturing is usually production-oriented, manufacturing companies often only focus on one element of the process. But cloud manufacturing is changing that by offering capabilities and resources all in one place.

Greater Volumes to Be Manufactured

By using the cloud, you can process large numbers of orders. Having more orders means you can offer products for lower prices to maintain the edge over your competitors. Many manufacturers use pay-as-you-go models to enhance profitability.

Instant Quotes

When manufacturers use the cloud for providing customers instant quotes for things like CAD models and drawings, the efficiency of the process is enhanced and offers optimal resource allocation. Less time is spent on communicating and making engineering models or drawings, meaning engineers can spend more time on value-adding activities.

Shorter Go-to-market Times

The cloud makes on-demand services possible. By being able to quote and send orders into production quickly, manufacturing companies can ensure they have shorter go-to-market times. For rapid prototyping, iterations, and full products, cloud manufacturing will enhance your operations no end.

It Means Less Downtime for Machinery

When your manufacturing equipment is connected to the cloud, you get to access continual data about the health and productivity of your machinery. By having access to such detailed information, you can easily identify production problems quickly, including the root causes. You can also predict machine failure before it happens.

With the automation of machines, it also means you do not have to worry about when the last manual backup was completed. Such things are automatically taken care of. So, by utilizing cloud technology, you can ensure your machines have less downtime, which helps business continuity.

Provides Greater Security

When your operations are in the cloud, you may worry about security. But if you are concerned that the cloud does not provide the same IP protection as on-site data management, the truth is the cloud can often be less risky than using your existing setup. That is because most IP data breaches happen internally.

The cloud enables you to generate levels of security and encryption that are better than in-house systems, due to most security breaches being internal. A proper cloud management system provides data encryption, automated backup, and automated software updates.

Using the Cloud at the Manufacturing-enterprise Level

At the enterprise level, manufacturing companies can use cloud technology to support operations via things like enterprise resource planning, workforce training and management, and data analysis. The cloud also supports manufacturers’ integration into global supply, production, and value chains.

Supports Manufacturing Supply Chain Integration

Cloud computing is playing a pivotal role in facilitating companies’ integration into wider industrial supply chains, enabling companies to gain speed and agility in their operations and resolve complex problems via effective collaboration.

For example, the pharmaceutical company Pfizer has recently been leveraging cloud computing to completely reengineer its complicated global supply chain. It has been moving all of its supply chain into the cloud and introducing a virtualized layer that delivers common data to all users.

So, participants no longer need to implement Pfizer’s own ERP system. Pfizer requested over 500 suppliers use its cloud-based data-exchange framework.

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