How сloud computing enables  modern manufacturing management

Nowadays information technology is transforming the global manufacturing economy by digitising virtually every facet of modern manufacturing management processes. Manufacturers are constantly searching for the best ways to upgrade new production technologies to improve their business performance.

In the last couple of years cloud computing has caused a revolution in the manufacturing industry. Cloud computing provides a new way how to do business by offering a scalable, flexible service via the Internet. The term «cloud computing» often referred to as simply «the cloud», – it represents a key platform technology that plays a role in enabling the next production revolution. 

Cloud computing brings new oportunities and possibilities to the modern manufacturing industry. Whether it’s a question of how manufacturing enterprises operate, how they integrate into their respective supply chain, or how products are designed, fabricated, and used by customers, cloud technology helps manufacturers innovate, reduce costs, increase their competitiveness, and improve business performance. In this regard, cloud technology improves manufacturing management by providing a globally optimised solution.

We normally think of Cloud computing operating via one of three major service models; Software as a Service (SaaS, where the consumer uses a provider’s application running on cloud infrastructure), Platform as a Service (PaaS, where the consumer can use cloud infrastructure to deploy applications) and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS, where the consumer can provide IT resources and run their systems and applications on a cloud provider). Cloud computing is typically deployed in one of four different configurations: a public cloud, a hybrid cloud, a community cloud or a private cloud.

At the enterprise level, cloud technology influences the ways in which manufacturing companies manage their operations, from Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and financial management to data analytics and workforce training. The cloud proves integral to how modern manufacturers integrate themselves into industrial supply chains. At the manufactured product level, the cloud transforms everything from how products are researched, designed and developed, to how they are manufactured, fabricated, and used by customers in industry. Cloud technology enables new manufacturing production systems such as 3D printing, generative design, and the Industrial Internet of Things. The cloud enables manufacturers to use infinitely scalable computational resources on an ‘on-demand’, pay-as-you-go basis, so they can easily access the computational resources they need without any additional IT equipment. This dynamic levels the playing field especially for small to medium-sized manufacturing enterprises that lack the financial wherewithal to purchase IT equipment. Previously, manufacturers of all sizes had to purchase enterprise-wide licences for ERP, CRM, and product-design software, now they can be flexibly consumed as an ’on-demand’, as-needed service, greatly increasing agility by giving SMEs affordable access to the world’s best software.

Four ways that cloud computing can enhance productivity for manufacturing:

Delivering broad and deep functionality. Since manufacturing companies need a wide range of specific functionality, it makes sense to consider that most ERP vendors have to offer specialised versions of their products for manufacturers. The right cloud manufacturing solution shall offer industry specific features such as: 

• Advanced Planning and Scheduling

• Inventory Project Accounting

• Order Management

• Financials Fullfillment

• Bill of Matertials and Routing

• Advanced Financials

• Estimating Purchasing

• Product Configurator

• Production Management

• Material Requirements Planning

Streamlining integration. When selecting the right cloud ERP solution for a manufacturing company, its accepted that the system would serve as the unifying hub for all business applications, connecting software, data services, and equipment. It is worth using the vendor’s prebuilt integration tools to connect most apps and systems, and then use an IT budget strategically to build any custom connections. The right cloud ERP can then offer integration that can help: 

• Streamline order processing for all channels

• View calculated material requirements and create schedules and work orders to meet demand

• Manage and sign documents digitally

• Streamline document management 

• Implement warehouse automation

• Support multi-carrier shipping and automate shipping rules

• Automate transportation management and freight fulfilment processes

• Manage human capital and payroll

Removing your security burden. When manufacturing businesses began to adopt digital processes, the security challenge expanded to encompass password protection, virus scanning, malware protection, etc. In today’s increasingly mobile business environment, cybercriminals have seemingly limitless points at which to attack the network and steal the business data. Most manufacturers do not employ large IT staffs, and staying ahead of ever-evolving cyber threats requires constant vigilance. The right cloud ERP solution for manufacturing will provide the highest levels of data security. It’s in the vendor‘s best interest to make security a priority.

Making it easier to incorporate emerging technologies. The Internet of Things continues to take hold in every industry that uses machinery. Modern manufacturers begin to see the value of connecting their machinery to computers—both to gather data that will help them to optimise usage and to enable the predictive maintenance that prevents unnecessarily prolonged downtime. With IoT technology, virtually every aspect of manufacturing can be measured and reported. Cloud ERP system can serve as the hub for collecting and analysing this information. It can also serve as a hub for the increasing number of robots on a modern shop floor. Even growing manufacturers are now investing in robotic technology and artificial intelligence as a means of increasing productivity and reducing long term costs. The right cloud ERP solution can help track and offer reporting on output and status of robotic devices. 

Manufacturing innovation does not stop there. 3D printing continues to make inroads as a speedy way for manufacturers to create custom products. And global supply chains make it possible for modern manufacturers to get their hands on breakthrough materials that can help them increase product quality whilst reducing costs. The right cloud ERP system helps to monitor the movement of raw materials worldwide and connect the supply chain performance to the bottom line.

Conclusion. By embracing cloud concepts into business, modern manufacturers are able to reap a multitude of benefits, among the most significant are: scalability, operational efficiency, application and partner integration, data storage, management, analytics, and enhanced security. Cloud computing significantly facilitates research, design, and development of new products, which powers innovation, reduces product development costs, and speeds time to market. Cloud computing empowers manufacturing operations, making them more productive, cost- and energy-efficient, safe, and streamlined. The cloud is fast becoming the logical solution for data storage, analytics, and intelligence for the modern-minded manufacturing business.

Yaroslava Dubenska
Yaroslava Dubenska