Modern Manufacturing’s Most Valuable Technology
Once considered a small business solution, it’s now universal.
Recent advances in automation technology and Artificial Intelligence (AI) promise to transform business operations across many industries. From data analytics tools configured to optimize efficiency, to supply chain management solutions designed to meet sustainability targets and reduce time and costs.
While these and other emerging technologies garner tremendous attention, a deeper dive reveals that one older, still transformative technology is the critical enabler to many of the improvements manufacturers are achieving today.
Cloud technology may not be as new and exciting as machine learning and AI tools, but these systems would be severely limited without a reliable cloud-based communication network. Just how vital is cloud computing to manufacturing?
WHY CLOUD IN MANUFACTURING?
Cloud computing helps manufacturers streamline operations, reduce costs and improve efficiencies through computing power, big data processing, and data-driven decision-making. These capabilities result in strategic advantages like scalability, flexibility, collaboration, speed to market and customer service. Therefore, the benefits of cloud computing in manufacturing are numerous, making it an essential resource in the modern manufacturing industry.
Many companies embraced the cloud when the pandemic forced the transformation to digital processes. Forward-looking manufacturers used this transition to make strides in adopting cloud technology for production and other vital business processes that positioned them for future success. The role of the cloud in manufacturing continues to grow exponentially, from acquiring machine data to managing entire supply chains through Internet of Things (IoT) applications and other advanced technologies.
MANUFACTURERS EMBRACE THE CLOUD
The Wipro Redefining Manufacturing for the Digital Era report reveals that the manufacturing industry surpasses all other sectors in adopting cloud-based technologies. Their survey of nearly 100 European C-level executives and decision-makers identified 30% of these companies as cloud leaders, 44% as intermediate-level cloud users and 26% as beginners. Notably, the tech consulting and services company reported that the European manufacturers’ overall cloud maturity is on par with the global average.
The report also states that 56% of respondents operating cloud-based systems have seen a measurable increase in productivity. Perhaps this is why these manufacturers expect to experience a 16% increase in the use of cloud in manufacturing and production in the coming two years. Other related business areas where double-digit increases in cloud progress are anticipated include production planning, quality control, service and distribution. Case in point, nearly 8 in 10 European manufacturers said that the cloud has already made quality control more effective by centralizing, standardizing and making QC data more transparent.
Once considered only for small businesses and startups, modern manufacturing companies of all sizes now widely choose cloud-based solutions over on-premises ones. The fact is that manufacturers experience far more challenges with on-premises solutions, most notably with data management, supply chain visibility, infrastructure costs and other vital areas. Cloud computing is undeniably propelling manufacturers toward a complete digital transformation.
USE CASES IN MANUFACTURING
Cloud-based systems are typically integrated with a wide range of additional technologies, including IoT devices and advanced analytics programs. In manufacturing, the most common uses of this integration include:
- Production Management (Manufacturing Execution)
Cloud-based Shop Floor Control (SFC) Solutions integrate IoT devices (most commonly tablet computers) with production management apps to provide real-time visibility into shop floor operations, enabling manufacturers to reduce costs, boost productivity, enhance efficiency, improve quality and achieve many other improvements.
- Supply Chain Management
Cloud-based Supply Chain Management (SCM) solutions give manufacturers visibility across their entire supply chain, empowering them to optimize processes from procurement through delivery. Cloud computing also enables remote executives and sourcing teams to track production milestones and KPIs, significantly enhancing customer service.
- Manufacturing Business Analytics (BI)
Cloud-based business analytics solutions capture and analyze production data in real time to provide relevant and actionable insights that optimize production performance and empower managers and teams to replace instincts with data-driven decisions to optimize operations.
- Quality Control
Cloud-based Quality Control (QC) solutions provide real-time access to all operational data, providing early detection, accountability and resolution of quality issues. Quality specifications, images and videos can be stored in the cloud to provide teams with the information they need to prevent quality defects.
- Equipment Monitoring/Predictive Maintenance
Cloud-based equipment monitoring systems can provide management and maintenance teams with real-time data on equipment productivity, availability, maintenance history, failure, and parts usage. This information can be used to identify potential equipment failures before they occur to reduce downtime and improve reliability. These systems may also help streamline machine setup time and efforts.
ALL-IN-ONE CLOUD SOLUTION
BlueCherry SFC Essential is the one technology capable of delivering the real-time visibility and control needed by sourcing organizations, factory management and production associates. It is the only cloud-based solution that combines all the production, supply chain, analytics, quality and equipment management tools needed to digitally transform the entire sewn-products sourcing and production process from order to fulfillment.
BlueCherry SFC Essential empowers your manufacturing and supply chain to:
- Increase manufacturing productivity and agility
- Reduce turn-time and manufacturing costs
- Enable faster, better-informed decision-making
- Improve product quality and on-time performance
- Streamline sourcing operations, elevate customer service
- Increase visibility, transparency and collaboration
- Provide workforce feedback and motivation
BlueCherry SFC Essential also delivers on the core promises of cloud-computing technology by reducing computing power, data storage, processing and other IT resource costs. It can be provided in a software-as-a-service (SaaS) model, eliminating large up-front capital expenses (CAPEX). It also enhances data security vs. on-premises systems due to comprehensive, integrated security solutions. Robust disaster recovery capabilities ensure critical data is safe and quickly recoverable from natural disasters, power outages or cyber-attacks. BlueCherry SFC Essential is also rapidly and easily deployed, often done by in-house teams, making it faster for manufacturers to adapt to changes in the market and stay ahead of the competition.
MOST VALUABLE TECHNOLOGY?
Cloud technologies and broader cloud-based management systems like BlueCherry SFC Essential can be applied to almost every aspect of the manufacturing and supply chain process, dramatically improving efficiency and productivity while reducing costs and minimizing waste. With so many positive impacts, cloud computing is arguably the most valuable technology to today’s manufacturers.
Discover how Dignity Apparel elevated their manufacturing with BlueCherry SFC Essential. By seamlessly integrating this innovative cloud solution, they've revolutionized their operations, achieving heightened productivity, streamlined processes, and enhanced quality.
Michael Penchansky, V.P. of Global Business Development & Manufacturing Solutions, CGS, Inc.