|In recent years, the term ‘cloud’ has made quite an impact in our lives and in our businesses. But for the manufacturing industry, it is just now starting to make its debut with more and more companies. Manufacturing companies are not typically known for keeping up with the latest technology trends or investing in IT systems. So why are so many companies beginning to position cloud computing software in their systems?
As industrial automation becomes more intelligent and more manufacturers are adopting machine learning and business analytics technology, cloud computing is expected to be the obvious solution to store and manage the countless amount of production data. But aside from increased storage space, cloud computing offers many more benefits for manufacturing industry. Benefits include increased agility, reduced costs, improved business models, optimized performance, and ultimately better profitability.
By embracing the cloud, manufacturers no longer simply collect data and try to understand what it is telling them, but they receive actionable insights from the data. This data tells them things like quality improvement, sales forecasts, or predictive maintenance. Machine learning gives manufacturers an edge over competitors by spending less time trying to decipher the data, and more time completing the action items the data provided.
Although the benefits of cloud computing are clear, sometimes the decision to make the move can be cloudy. Some manufacturers fear the idea of having their data stored off-premise despite the proven benefits. Although apprehensions about security breaches, data loss, or lack of ownership are all valid concerns, most cloud providers have invested heavily in ensuring the infrastructure is safe and resilient to any potential threats.
For example, Microsoft’s cloud computing software, Azure, has reliable server backups to the cloud, safeguards & access controls, a security center, and protection & recovery options. These all mean that in the unlikely event that your data is lost, it will never really be completely lost or gone forever.
In the early days of cloud computing, manufacturers faced the hard choice of limiting themselves to a single version of software shared by multiple companies and being locked from upgrade. The latest software is so dynamically configurable, so manufacturers are free to support their own new product introductions and continuous process changes. Cloud computing rather than being a limiter has become an enabler of rapid process change.
Moving to cloud computing isn’t just about moving data into an off-site platform. Used correctly, the cloud can heighten an organization’s performance in production, capabilities, proficiencies, and potentially, its entire business model. With so much potential and capacity, it’s hard to see why any manufacturer wouldn’t consider cloud computing.
MCA Connect has extensive experience moving manufacturing industries to the cloud and can help you evaluate the advantages and disadvantages for your business. Contact us to learn more.
Author: Doug Bulla, VP Business Development
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