Engineer working at control room

Ten Ways Cloud Computing Can Benefit Manufacturers


As the end of the first quarter of the 21st century nears, cloud computing has become an integral part of the modern-day manufacturing environment, growing in leaps and bounds over the last decade. Indeed, the use of this technology has spurred efficiency in manufacturing production.

In a nutshell, cloud computing uses a network of remote, third-party servers made available online. Rather than relying on your own computers or server, you remotely share software and storage to process, manage and distribute information.

Ultimately, the use of this technology typically translates into greater profitability. By integrating cloud computing into a smart factory setup, your manufacturing company can better meet future challenges.

Here are 10 key benefits of using cloud computing technology:

1. Data Storage and Monitoring. Cloud computing is an easy and proven way for manufacturers to store company data. Significantly, it allows managers to access and monitor data instantly — even from remote locations — to address a wide array of issues. For instance, it can be critical for operations such as scheduling, inventory and job orders.

2. Data Security. Cloud computing allows manufacturers to generally keep their data safe. Typically, cloud-based security involves data encryption, firewalls and other protocols to deter would-be hackers. This methodology can offer more peace of mind for management.

3. Machine Monitoring. In a manufacturing plant, keeping the machinery humming on all cylinders is critical to a company’s success. By accessing online platforms through the cloud, managers can keep close tabs on productivity, energy consumption and maintenance requirements. They’ll be alerted in real time when repairs or upkeep are needed. Also, scheduling can incorporate down time.

4. Supply Chain Management. Cloud computing replaces a traditional hands-on approach to supply chain management. Instead of relying on manual measures for supervising the supply chain — including oversight of logistics and storage required at different junctures — manufacturers can use a centralized, cloud-based platform to make real-time decisions that can improve outcomes.

5. Cost Reduction. With cloud computing, manufacturers aren’t required to sink a vast amount of capital into data storage and processing. Generally, data access is available on a pay-as-you-go basis, so upfront costs are significantly reduced. Along the way, the automation of functions reduces or even eliminates waste and duplication of efforts. This greater efficiency cuts costs overall.

6. Production Planning. Efficient scheduling on the shop floor is a key component of profitability for manufacturers. The options available through cloud computing enable manufacturers to maximize production and minimize downtime. Forecasting is improved and disruptions can be shortened when problems are immediately identified and rectified. In the end, production may be increased, overall quality enhanced and delivery dates accommodated.

7. Scalability. With cloud computing, manufacturers can benefit from the ability to change production quantities or other elements when necessary. Indeed, it’s relatively easy to scale operations up or down to reflect increased or reduced resources, storage availability, and other factors. Simply put, manufacturers can move as the market dictates. Notably, if demand for a certain product suddenly ramps up, a manufacturer can respond quickly without sacrificing quality control.

8. Agility. In some cases, more drastic changes are required to keep up with competitors or the market in general. For instance, a manufacturer may have to completely overhaul its processes to adjust for the latest innovation. Cloud computing enables manufacturers to react promptly and customize applications — usually, with a minimum outlay for hardware.

9. Collaboration. Cloud computing emphasizes the team concept by linking different “players” across various departments, worksites and suppliers. In fact, it literally links the supply chain together. Thus, with centralized data and applications, team members can readily share information and finalize processes faster than usual. With this team-first outlook, productivity goes up and products can be produced and reach their ultimate destinations in less time.

10. Global Reach. Manufacturing has become a global industry, even for relatively small operations. Thanks to cloud computing, manufacturers can coordinate activities with distributors, suppliers, and international partners and customers. This creates new marketing avenues, expands your customer base and provides new revenue opportunities.

Before taking the jump into cloud computing, be sure to properly vet cloud service providers. When researching vendors, contact us for guidance. And once you’ve selected a cloud provider, review your decision annually and consider alternatives if necessary.