Manufacturers are increasingly seeing the benefits of adopting cloud solutions as part of their digital transformation. The cloud can help manufacturers streamline and optimize every facet of their business, from product design and development to operations to sales and customer experience. Cloud solutions for manufacturers enable data-driven decision making, helping to make safer and more efficient factories, enable end-to-end supply chain visibility, and accelerate innovation.
At a fundamental level, the cloud for manufacturing is essentially the same as the cloud for other areas. It is the strategy of using decentralized servers to manage data. These servers can be private to one entity or shared between multiple entities.
Some of the drivers behind the adoption of the cloud for manufacturing are also much the same as the drivers in other industries. There are, however, some aspects of the cloud that are especially relevant to manufacturing.
Here are some of the main ways the cloud for manufacturing is currently transforming the sector. It is very likely that more benefits will be discovered as the technology continues to mature.
The cloud for manufacturing is helping the manufacturing sector to recruit and retain employees. Using the cloud to monitor equipment has given a significant boost to health and safety in the manufacturing sector.
It has also helped to reduce two of the most notorious sources of frustration and stress in the sector. The first was machines having enforced downtime to be checked for issues. The second was machines having unexpected downtime due to undetected issues.
The cloud for manufacturing is also being used to enhance training. Manufacturing is a sector that often requires people to learn what are literally hands-on skills. Unfortunately, there is often limited time for hands-on training.
The cloud for manufacturing helps to bridge this gap by making it easier for people to access resources such as simulators. These can then allow people to build their skills in a virtual environment before honing them in the real world.
Additionally, manufacturers also benefit from the opportunities the cloud offers to all employers. Remote/hybrid work is (currently) less likely to be practical in manufacturing than in other sectors. The benefits of being connected and able to collaborate more easily do, however, absolutely apply to manufacturing.
There are numerous reasons why the manufacturing sector is very eager to move away from its traditional reliance on heavy machinery. A lot of them hinge on the concept of sustainability. Not only does manufacturing have to become more environmentally friendly, but it also has to do its best to keep pace with modern businesses.
The cloud for manufacturing is supporting this process. In the short term, it is helping to make production operations run more smoothly. Manufacturers no longer have to depend purely on humans. Instead, they can use a combination of humans and AI-powered autonomous systems, based in the cloud.
In the medium term, the cloud for manufacturing will help manufacturers to deal with pain points more efficiently than they ever have before. It will equip them with the data they need to make highly informed decisions. In particular, it will allow them to delve into details that were previously obscured. Details tend to matter in most industries. They are particularly relevant in manufacturing.
Over the long term, the cloud for manufacturing will help manufacturers to develop leaner, more agile, smarter factories. They will be able to predict where issues might arise and use technology to prevent them. For example, they will use the Internet of Things to handle mundane tasks and free up humans for value-add tasks.
It is likely to be a long time before the world forgets how the global supply chain snapped into pieces during COVID-19. Hopefully, this will not happen to the world again but hope is not a strategy. The reality is that most, if not all, manufacturing relies on a global supply chain. This is highly complex. That means it is highly vulnerable to any kind of disruption. Even localized disruptions will send ripples down the chain.
The cloud for manufacturing can be used to generate and process the data needed to manage these complex intercontinental systems. Having a real-time, meaningful overview of a supply chain is only the start. The cloud can also be used to make predictions based on data from multiple sources. This gives its predictions the highest possible levels of accuracy.
Possibly the most exciting option of all, however, is to use the cloud for risk modeling. This can help manufacturers to develop protocols to protect themselves in different scenarios. In other words, their approach to disaster recovery will shift from being largely reactive to being proactive.
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