Enabling Innovation and Growth in Manufacturing: Is Cloud computing the way forward?

The disruptive trends of Cloud computing are becoming an acceptable model
for running enterprise operations. By consuming IT Infrastructure, platforms and Apps as a service, manufacturers can benefit in several ways –lowered CAPEX and OPEX, improved agility, faster time to market, and enhanced global reach. Moreover, they can scale their IT capabilities as they grow.

For example, manufacturers are relieved of licensing, implementing and maintaining e-mails, collaboration, uni ed communications, CRM and HR apps by moving to an on-demand version at just a fraction of the costs.

Many industry leaders have started benefitting from full virtualization and improved automation in their private data centers. Manufacturers are opening up to dedicated offerings from enterprise cloud providers for some of their needs and turning to Cloud ecosystem integrators to simplify their Cloud journey. This has enabled manufactures to optimize their operations and focus on more business critical functions.

A recent study by an analyst firm found that roughly 44% of nearly 100 manufacturers surveyed are implementing or evaluating Cloud deployments. This shows the inroads Cloud computing has made into modern manufacturing.

Moving beyond

Manufacturers are examining every aspect of their operations and processes – from supply chain to product development and manufacturing to employee engagement – to gain the crucial advantage that can help them come out on top. Innovation plays a vital role in this effort. Nurturing sustained innovation can be challenging, time-consuming, and expensive. Cloud computing is becoming an enabler for innovation in a modern enterprise by lowering the traditional barriers related to cost, time, location, and organizational boundaries. The Cloud provides an unparalleled platform for innovation – the Cloud’s cover helps integrate people, processes and systems, and derive synergies out of the interaction.

Collaboration hubs on the Cloud Manufacturers are part of a global, complex and fragile supply chain. Their dependence on trading partners both on the supply and the demand side has gone up multi-fold. Business processes extend beyond the enterprise’s four walls to enable efficient collaboration that facilitate free flow of information. Manufacturers can benefit from visibility into every aspect of this chain.

With the advent of globalization, modern enterprises must have a presence across multiple geographical locations to remain competitive and expand into newer markets. Global and cross-organizational collaboration holds the key to success for a modern manufacturer. The key benefits of Cloud computing like pay as you go, faster time to market, global reach and elasticity – with availability of best-of- class collaboration and communication capabilities on the Cloud – make it a perfect platform to power such initiatives.

Manufacturers are setting up Cloud-based hubs that foster collaboration and information sharing across a network of partners. These hubs help organizations to effectively plan and manage key supply chain and go-to market activities in collaboration with partners. Key examples include product co-creation, supply chain activities like procurement, demand planning, logistics, compliance, tracking and risk management, new product launches, and general collaboration with Dealers, OEMs and VARS. And the list grows. Mobility adds another dimension to this by taking innovation to the eld and the shop floors with relative ease.

Cloud-driven analytics

In a quest to understand customers, partners and processes better, the industry is facing a challenge in terms of explosion of data. The volume of information Manufacturers collect from their customers / partner touch points and, for instance, from MTConnect devices, is multiplying each day.

Manufactures are looking at the Cloud as an effective solution to store this information, process efficiently, and / or back them up reliably. The elasticity that comes with the Cloud in terms of storage and compute makes it feasible for organizations to retain and analyze key information for as long as they want without the pain of doing it on- premise. This, along with the advent of a new breed of BI on-demand solutions, lowers the barrier for manufacturers to gain key insights with the launch of the browser. For instance, a Cloud-based solution can bring data from MTConnect devices, do complex event processing, and provide insights on a dashboard that is accessible through the browser.