MANUFACTURING companies around the world are increasingly using cloud technology to become more efficient and to stay more securely connected with their customers and their suppliers.
The benefits of cloud computing for manufacturers include the following:
Reliability: Cloud-based technology has fewer technical problems than software used on individual computers.
Cost savings: Cloud solutions do not require in-house servers or the expertise to maintain them.
Scalability: Cloud computing grows with the business or can easily scale back during slower times. Scalability also means that even smaller companies that cannot afford an expensive IT infrastructure can benefit from a cloud-based system that can scale up as their companies grow.
Less time wasted in updating computers: Technology based in the cloud stays updated without IT departments wasting time making sure everyone has the latest version of the software.
Marketplace advantage over companies not using cloud technology: Better productivity and communications give companies that use cloud manufacturing solutions a competitive edge.
In manufacturing, cloud computing offers numerous solutions for every part of the process, from marketing to productivity. Integrating cloud technology into multiple operational areas increases the benefits gained from using it. A few common applications of cloud computing in the manufacturing sector include:
The comprehensive nature of cloud technology makes it a natural match for the intricacies of marketing campaigns. Manufacturers use cloud-based applications to aid in planning, executing and managing marketing campaigns. By using data on production and sales, manufacturers can also track the effectiveness of marketing campaigns.
Product planning and development tie heavily into production. By merging product planning and development information into supply chain data and communications, manufacturers can prepare their operations for full production. With comprehensive integration, products can move from idea to engineering to prototype to small production and finally to full-scale manufacturing and shipping much faster.
Once production starts, cloud technology can improve the process of producing and stocking products. With enterprise resource planning (ERP) software such as the industry-leading NetSuite, companies can match their production levels to available stock and sales. The software can manage price quotes, order intake and customer requests. Fewer mistakes happen when using a standard product to track these, thus lowering order cycle times.
Rarely do manufacturers maintain the same level of production for all products throughout the year. To meet the market’s changing needs, manufacturers can use cloud-based applications to monitor when to change production. Also, by allowing communications throughout the supply chain, these software solutions ensure producers have the required amount of raw materials on hand and can readily change their orders to match their future productivity levels.
Cloud technology has three main forms — software as a service (SasS), platform as a service (Paas) and infrastructure as a service (IaaS). IaaS lets manufacturers of all sizes use an enterprise-level infrastructure to help with operation scaling, data storage and information processing. Companies use PaaS to develop their own applications in rented production or development solutions. Lastly, SaaS offers internet-based software programs for use by anyone in a company. Among these, SaaS ranks as one of the simplest solutions to quickly integrate into a business.
For example, a cloud-based ERP for manufacturing is a type of SaaS used in the industry. SaaS manufacturing software benefits include:
With a single software location, everyone refers to the same information and documents. When using cloud-based ERP, only one main source for company information exists. Misinformation is reduced because everyone uses the same source for company data.
Cloud technology’s scalability and constant updates also make planning simpler. Using a SaaS network avoids issues of outdated software or operating systems on an individual computer. By eliminating these concerns, SaaS makes integrating smart manufacturing technology easier.