How are manufacturers using cloud technology?

Organisations of all types are evolving into ‘smart’ organisations through the use of innovative technology.

One example of this is the manufacturing sector. And, according to the Plex 2019 State of Manufacturing Technology Report: “Automation, integration and connectivity are among the most important goals for the next five years”.

Indeed, the report states that:

  • 60 % of manufacturers plan to use technology to enhance plant floor integration and automation
  • 48% intend to increase business process automation
  • A third are working to both increase plant/enterprise integration and increase supply chain connectivity
  • A third of respondents plan to leverage the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) within the next five years
  • 80% currently leverage consumer mobile devices in their manufacturing operations
  • 87% of manufacturers that leverage a cloud-based system are confident in their organisation’s future revenue growth.

What’s more, a spokesperson for the report said that: ”connected manufacturing is the linchpin for leading manufacturers. The most successful companies are investing in cloud-based systems to manage their operations from end to end, helping them both be more agile in addressing challenges and be prepared to benefit from the connectivity, visibility and scalability delivered through the Industrial Internet of Things.”

Breaking things down, here are just some of the ways cloud computing and automation can help the manufacturing sector.

The cloud can help manufacturers to break down data silos

Silos are a challenge for most organisations, with a silo mentality or infrastructure one of the most significant barriers to business success. Where different offices or departments don’t share information with others in the same company, both efficiency and productivity are diminished.

For manufacturing companies, this means that data and processes are not always shared between engineering, production, marketing, sales and finance.

Of course, merely being aware of the need for greater collaboration across a business isn’t enough. You also have to put the tools in place to enable this to happen. In most cases, these silos are not deliberate – they have naturally evolved. And cloud technology is helping to break them down.

For example, service management software can be used to connect disparate systems and integrate historical silos. And, once done this allows for a single view of all data across the entire business.

The cloud provides manufacturers with real-time access to the same information

Once you have invested in service management software to create a more integrated infrastructure, the latest cloud-based software helps everyone across your organisation to work collaboratively with one another. Even better, real-time collaboration is possible. So, when an employee in one place makes a change, that information is immediately available to others, regardless of where they are.

And, not only is your data centralised, but your employees can also share files and information quickly and easily, wherever they are in the company, or indeed, the world.

For example, with everything available via the cloud, engineers can fill in electronic forms using smartphones or tablets, and this information automatically and immediately syncs with your back office systems.

The cloud is enabling predictive maintenance

Predictive maintenance (PdM) is the evolution of planned preventive maintenance (PPM).  With PMM, maintenance is scheduled based on the expected operating experience of an asset. However, with PdM, each asset’s real-time operating data is analysed to assess when maintenance is due. So, maintenance is determined by the actual condition of equipment rather than average statistics.

Powered by the cloud and AI, by delivering more accurate information and enabling more predictive maintenance, manufacturers can accurately predict how long they can last before doing anything; keep everything running for longer and save on replacement costs.

The cloud leads to better decision making

As all aspects of our lives become more and more information-driven, it’s not the volume of data that’s important; it’s what we do with it that matters. As such, savvy manufacturers are using service management software to access real-time, tailored, and accurate information, from multiple data sources, presented via easy to understand visual dashboards.

So, rather than going on gut-instincts, manufacturers can see trends and patterns emerging and turn this data into insights and trends that lead to actionable improvements and innovations.

For example, when deciding to take on new business, or launch a new service-line, you can use intelligent analytics to help determine the amount of time and resources that are liable to be required and establish whether you are likely to make or lose money.

Currently having to deal with digital transformation and all that this brings, many manufacturers have turned to the cloud to help them keep up with the competition while minimising operational upheaval. For more information on how our service management software can help your manufacturing business, contact us today for an informal chat.