7 Ways Cloud Computing is Transforming Manufacturing as We Know It

Manufacturers are moving to cloud-based solutions because of the benefits of the technology. Because of the cloud, manufacturers now store vast amounts of data online and access it in real-time. This increases not only their manufacturing efficiency, but also their profitability. And, thanks to the cloud, small firms with little in the way of resources can now scale up and down without hassle. For the first time, they can compete better in the global market. Now, let us look at more ways in which cloud computing is transforming manufacturing,

1) Wearable Devices

Wearable devices come in many forms and do many things. Fitness trackers, smart watches, head-mounted displays, smart jewelry, and smart clothing are changing both the quality of our lives and how we access information. Other devices, known as implantables, are implanted under the skin to treat heart conditions. Because of this flexibility, wearable devices have caught the eye of manufacturers. When used with the cloud, such devices could transform manufacturing as we know it.

Take Google Glass, for instance. This pair of glasses can allow workers to access critical data without leaving their stations. It can also replace scanners and barcode readers by collecting and sending data to servers and cloud-based applications. Employees can then use the time they would have otherwise spent doing data collection on something else, thereby increasing their productivity. Smart devices also increase safety in the workplace. They warn drivers, especially those driving heavy machinery when colleagues are in the drivers' blind spot.

2) Mobile Devices

Mobile devices, with the help of cloud computing, are also changing the manufacturing sector. According to an Aberdeen Group survey, mobility can increase a manufacturer's efficiency by up to 44 percent. For this reason, manufacturing firms are rushing to integrate mobile devices into their operations.

In fact, a Tech Target study has found that as many as 4 out of 10 companies are planning to do just that. And it is easy to see why. Since critical data is stored in the cloud, employees and managers can access the data from anywhere through their mobile devices. This greater mobility allows employees to identify problem areas before they affect production. Managers, on the other hand, view company performance in real-time. And every department, from inventory to shipping, benefits from this mobility.

3) Internet of Things (IoT)

Internet of Things (IoT) is the use of the internet, and cloud computing, in particular, to connect physical devices. Comprising hardware and software, this interconnected system results in smart machines. And because the machines are smart, they communicate with each other, resulting in greater efficiency. Sometimes, they even communicate with the manufacturer if need be, such as when they need maintenance.

Similarly, manufacturers can communicate with a machine and control it remotely. And when necessary, they can also connect it to the operations or supply chain at a moment's notice. Doing so allows the machine to not only support the manufacturing of a product that is falling behind schedule, but also to eliminate costly delays in production.

Because of such benefits, industry analysts now view IoT as the future of manufacturing. Some have even predicted that in a decade, 50 billion devices will be interconnected. And the devices will not just increase manufacturing efficiency. Instead, they will autonomously control the entire supply chain.

4) Knowledge Management and Analytics

In business, like in life, it is not what you know that is of benefit to you. Instead, it is how you use what you know. For manufacturers, this means doing two things. The first is to identify knowledge that will be of use to them and then collect as much of it as possible. This knowledge is usually about clients, suppliers, sales, and the manufacturing process to name a few. Also important is information about the state of the manufacturing equipment, especially when they need servicing.

The second, and most important, is to analyze this data and then to use it in decision making. And to do this, manufacturing firms use advanced analytics. For instance, in the case of maintenance, they use Computerized Maintenance Management System (CMMS) software.

CMMS system software tracks maintenance data and informs maintenance crews of an impending breakdown before it happens. And by performing preventative maintenance, the crews keep the production line working at maximum efficiency.

But, performing these two tasks would be impossible without cloud computing. After all, data resources must be first stored in the cloud before they can be analyzed using analytic software. In addition, the results of the analysis are then stored in the cloud. From here, key decision makers can access these results at any time, from anywhere, and use any device.

5) Accuracy in Marketing

Manufacturers are storing marketing data in the cloud, and with reason. Doing so makes it easier for marketing applications to track marketing campaigns, promotions, and seasonal spikes. Better still, they also determine if the marketing strategies are successful. With this information, the apps then determine the products to focus on as well as the clients to target.

6) Faster Product Development and Innovation

Establishing clear communication and collaboration channels is important during a product's development phase. And without cloud computing, this is impossible. By storing the product development data online, development teams can access it freely and in real-time.

Each team also keeps in touch with other teams, regardless of the physical distance between them. This ease of collaboration and communication allows manufacturers to speed up product development, and as a result, to be more innovative.

7) Reducing Costs

Perhaps the greatest benefit of cloud computing is its potential to reduce the cost of manufacturing. Everything from wearable devices to faster product development only serves to increase profitability, efficiency, and speed. For this reason, the cloud will only become more entrenched in the manufacturing sector in the future.

Conclusion

Cloud computing is transforming the manufacturing sector in the following ways. Internet-enabled wearable devices are replacing scanners and bar code readers in data collection. Mobile devices, on the other hand, are making the access of critical data easier. Also, the internet of things is increasing the efficiency of the supply chain, as are knowledge management and analytics. In addition, cloud computing allows for more accurate marketing and faster product development. Finally, the cloud reduces manufacturing costs.