How Manufacturers Use The Cloud

Manufacturers are under unrelenting pressure to constantly streamline core areas of their businesses in order to stay ahead of competition, improve performance and reduce costs. In recent years, cloud computing has enabled this and more. While initially only used to share and access data, cloud computing now engages machines, materials and employees in real-time, proving financial and operational improvements in nearly every industry.  

Cloud computing provides manufacturers with extremely flexible, on demand and real-time data and resources to tackle every critical function ranging from material requirements planning, purchase order and inventory needs, supply chain and shop floor management, process manufacturing and human resource solutions. In manufacturing industries like agtech, mining, and aerospace and defense, where quicker deployment and operational flexibility mean cost savings, implementing cloud computing technology is especially critical.  

A key and immediate benefit to implementing cloud computing solutions like Amazon Web Services, rather than complex, on-premise IT systems, is the wealth of data that can be easily captured and applied through the use of analytics, business intelligence and rules engines. This data collection can easily span the entire manufacturing process and, when applied, provide end-to-end improvements from preparation and processing through customer interactions post-transaction.  

The cloud is the ideal location for storing, managing and accessing large amounts of data, which is one of the driving forces behind this explosive growth in cloud computing. Beyond data storage, cloud computing can integrate customer support and order status update systems and allow for automated conversations between all aspects of the manufacturing organization from pricing to account management.  

While it may be daunting for some manufacturing organizations to migrate all IT systems and data to the cloud, this technology can reduce IT expenditures on several fronts--infrastructure, maintenance, life cycle and update costs--by as much as 54 percent, according to a report by Food Manufacturing.

Once migrated to the cloud, software and hardware requirements are easily scalable to address changing project workloads, which is an important feature for manufacturing firms that need to remain agile to customer demand. Global scaling can be achieved through the cloud, too. For example, Human Resource Management systems for all manufacturing locations can be unified to allow for simple multi-site talent management, recruiting, payroll and time tracking.  

Many firms are hesitant to put all of their data and system management capabilities in the cloud, as security is a key concern. However, a Rapidclaims report showed that 94 percent of businesses saw an improvement in security after switching to the cloud. This is likely because one of cloud providers’ primary responsibilities is rigorous security monitoring, while manufacturers that use on-premise systems have to manage security issues in addition to many other IT concerns.

From easier data storage to increased business insights, unified global collaboration, and more, cloud computing automates and optimizes organizations’ processes and opens up vast opportunities for further adaptation and innovations. Manufacturers can capitalize on the additional bandwidth provided to them through cloud computing to easily expand existing operations or even grow new business units, and seamlessly integrate those additions into the existing cloud infrastructure. Cloud computing is here to stay, and will continue to grow at a rapid pace. Innovations in cloud computing platforms and systems will be mirrored in growth seen by manufacturers.