Un-planted: How Cloud is Setting Manufacturing Free

For most of us, manufacturing is a sector synonymous with mechanics, materials, production and process. Naturally, each of these associations contain inherent suggestions of fixed locations and rigid practices: this is slow, physical stuff. In a modern world characterised by accelerated change, unpredictability and complexity, such connotations hardly feel like an ideal recipe for success.


As in most other walks of corporate life, leaders in the manufacturing field are under intense pressure to optimise every aspect of their operations in pursuit of wider profit margins. Simply removing cost, however, will not suffice. Manufacturers must also drive innovation in order to create the added value essential to realising competitive advantage.


Efficiency, flexibility, results…


Ultimately, for CEOs, the goal is to create effectual business models capable of delivering relevant and timely advancements; all in an industry often crippled by complicated, arduous challenges such as machine downtime, product quality and assembly bottlenecks, not to mention supply chain concerns[1].


In the era of high-tech, achieving this objective is not conceivable without close collaboration between an organisation’s CEO and CTO.


Shedding light on the grey areas…


Great CTOs understand the strong synergies between cost efficiencies and inventiveness: it boils down to greater visibility and the superior levels of insight this permits. The net result of this is a much clearer picture of what is happening on the floor, where the problems are occurring and how to resolve them quickly and effectively. Now imagine all stakeholders in the manufacturing process having access to critical information on a real-time basis, regardless of their location or physical proximity to the issues themselves.


This is increasingly becoming the standard paradigm underpinning the daily functioning of global manufacturers. Driven by existing technology but enabled by advancements in cloud computing, the sector is no longer hindered by the confines of its stationary, rooted nature. The onset of cloud has allowed for critical site and system interconnectivity, from which raw data from a range of places and sources can be gathered, mined, analysed and dispersed to those people who need to know.


Resolving problems, creating value – at once…


Those CEOs whose diaries are void of regular interactions with their CTOs should consider current trends and case studies.


In 2013, Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) applications accounted for almost 25% of all software installed in manufacturing companies. This figure is expected to reach 45% by 2023[2]. Beyond this statistic are examples of entities evaluating and implementing dense cloud-based ERP systems in fewer than 3 months, while also benefitting from enhanced functionality and flexibility at a lower cost (than previous on-premise deployments)[3]. Bolstering this evidence of cloud’s ability to slash costs are recent findings that manufacturers are saving an average of £506k per year, per provider[4].


Taking advantage…


In fully exploiting cloud computing’s capacity to save substantial quantities of time and money, CEOs are laying the best possible foundation from which to focus their energies on improving their organisation’s output and performance. From here, they can utilise the cloud to centralise and integrate their systems and processes. Aided by easier access to richer, more accurate information, CEOs can not only predict and resolve many of their existing pain points in advance (downtime, bottlenecks, etc.), they can now achieve a number of other strategic goals, including:


  • Acceleration of the development lifecycle to reduce time-to-market
  • Optimising the methods by which products are being made
  • Creation of a smoother, more flexible supply chain
  • Better planning and therefore execution of sales and marketing campaigns


Charting success…


While it is clear that adoption of cloud technologies can simultaneously deliver cost-effectiveness and foster innovative practices, CEOs considering a move to this computing model must again consult with their CTOs to identify the best path forward.


Click on the links below to read more about our take on the major IaaS models:

Public: Flexible cloud computing? ‘Computer says no’

Private: Private Cloud: A Case of Like-for-Like

Hybrid: So what exactly is Hybrid Cloud Computing


In our next article, we look at how cloud is maximising the individual and collective potential of mobile, automation, ERP and big data to revolutionise manufacturing practices.

[1] http://chiefexecutive.net/healing-manufacturings-pain-points

[2] http://www.forbes.com/sites/louiscolumbus/2013/05/06/ten-ways-cloud-computing-is-revolutionizing-manufacturing/

[3] http://www.mbtmag.com/articles/2012/11/how-flexible-thinking-led-hiawatha-rubber-cloud

[4] http://www.forbes.com/sites/louiscolumbus/2013/04/10/making-cloud-computing-pay-2/


About Colin J. O'Sullivan

Colin O’Sullivan is a senior business and partner development manager who has recently relocated to Dublin following 7 years working abroad. Colin has spent over a decade in the technology industry, helping customers across the globe to drive organisational improvement through the adoption of world class products and services.

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