With each passing month, cloud computing seems to become increasingly important as a tool in almost every industry in every country across the world. No matter whether your business is founded in advanced technology, or is more traditional in its approach, you’re sure to have already considered how the cloud can be used to your advantage as you seek to edge ahead of your competition and consolidate a position as a leader in your sector. According to reports, 71% of high-ranking officials in the manufacturing industry are expecting cloud integration to increase significantly over the next 5 years – if your business isn’t one of those that takes the jump, you could risk being left behind your competitors. There has also been extensive research conducted on the topic of the future of manufacturing, which you can find in detail here. This research programme has identified that the traditional IT that’s currently being used by manufacturers is quickly becoming an outdated way to operate – physical infrastructure is now starting to be seen as a waste of space, time, money, and effort, with cloud computing essentially solving all of these issues in one swift migration.
If your manufacturing company is looking to take advantage of the benefits that the cloud can offer, it’s vital that you’ve got all of the information you need regarding the topic. Luckily, that’s exactly what this guide is designed to do; by reading on, you’ll find a detailed breakdown of cloud computing and its benefits in your industry, helping to give you a clear understanding of the difference that it’ll make once implemented and why you should be integrating it into your operations sooner rather than later. Here at Cloud Geeni, we’re passionate about the benefits of cloud computing, so here are the top things that we think manufacturers should be considering when it comes to the cloud and virtual infrastructure.
So what is cloud computing?
To kick things off, we think it’s vital that you know exactly what it is you’re dealing with when we’re talking about cloud computing – everyone has their own level of knowledge on the topic, but if you’ve been misinformed or have outdated knowledge, this could be a potential roadblock that stops you from reaping the benefits that the cloud has to offer. Simply put, cloud computing is a way for you to access your digital resources without actually having to manage these resources yourself – essentially, you are removing any physical limitations that you were facing in terms of your IT infrastructure, which opens up almost boundless possibilities for your business. With a business strategy that’s founded in cloud computing, you’ll be able to expand and grow in ways that you may not have thought possible – when it comes to scalability, there’s nothing that can rival the cloud.
Internally, you’ll see benefits in the form of streamlined processes, effective data handling and processing, and enhanced customer service – it’s the combination of these three factors that will really provide value to businesses in the manufacturing sector. For far too long, manufacturers have been restricted by traditional methods and rigid physical infrastructure, but by removing these obstacles we envision companies in the manufacturing industry being able to improve the service that they’re offering significantly. Alongside this, you can also expect to see major improvements when it comes to your communication and collaboration too – there will be more options and capabilities when it comes to working as a team, encouraging everyone to float ideas, propose new things, and enhance the business from top to bottom.
How is the cloud being used in manufacturing?
In the manufacturing industry, the cloud has a huge part to play in the processes that are used throughout development, production, and distribution, meaning that there isn’t a single step where the cloud isn’t an integral part of the proceedings. At the first instance, sales order forms can be automatically handled – by automating this system, you’ll be orchestrating a more streamlined production line where computers are able to check stock levels, source ready-made units that are available to ship, or identify which components will be needed to produce a new unit should there be no fully-constructed stock available. With all of your data regarding stock, materials, and resources all stored in easy-to-use digital platforms, it’s never been easier to perform the checks needed before production starts. From any device, you can monitor stock in real-time using stock management software that’s designed to process this data in a quick, efficient, and simple to read manner.
Once you’ve sourced your resources and materials, you can then use digital platforms to generate a work order, which is used to instruct your staff on the specifics they’ll need to be able to fulfil the order that has been assigned to them. With all of this information laid out in a straightforward digital format, you can ensure that the instructions given are as clear as possible, whilst also keeping a digital trail of each order and the materials used, so you can spot any discrepancies in your numbers and immediately take the actions needed to rectify this.
One of the biggest benefits of cloud platforms in the manufacturing chain is the ability to update and monitor in real-time – with instant updates to the system, you’re always able to ensure that your workflow is on the right track, eliminating cases of surprise stock shortages or mistakes when it comes to quantities. By scanning your materials as they are used, rather than editing the quantity retrospectively, you give yourself the best possible measure of how fast the stock is depleting. This will inform your purchase decisions when it comes to restocking more materials and deciding the quantities that you require too. Whilst you’re monitoring the stock levels, you can also take a look at performance using digital platforms – depending on your systems, you can actively check the performance of your machines and employees as they’re working, identifying any weak links in the production chain in an instant. Once this is identified, you can assess the situation, diagnose the reasons behind this lower level of productivity, and make the necessary amendments to your production line. This could be an update to your machinery, an extra pair of hands on the job, or a new process being implemented to ensure that everything is running as smoothly as possible.
From here, it’s incredibly easy for cloud computing to take care of the rest – by marking the production stage as complete, your chosen platform could generate a picking/packing slip, which informs your ground staff within the warehouse of the exact codes and quantities of items that need to be packed for a specific order. Once this is packed, it’s simply a case of scanning the barcode, shipping the item, and generating the invoice to be sent out to the customer, detailing the payment and delivery details that have been inputted into the system. Of course, all of this data will be stored within the cloud, keeping it safe from breaches and invasions should your company ever be the target of a cyber attack.
Beyond your production process, there are many more areas where the cloud can be used to enhance your business – it’s all about identifying the areas where the cloud thrives and comparing these against your own weaknesses, then allowing it to function as it can to solve your issues. Here are a few of the top features that you’ll find when utilising the cloud to your advantage, and how it’ll benefit your manufacturing business:
As with any business in any industry, security is of the utmost importance. With cyber-attacks at an alarmingly high level, the risks associated with the data that your business has in its possession have never been higher. With this in mind, it’s vital that you ensure you’ve got the correct protection in place to keep that data under lock and key. With physical data centres located on-premises, you’re set up for a double jeopardy scenario; if your premises were to suffer from a break-in, invaders with the right skillset would then have access to all of your company data in an instant, allowing them to steal personal data from your company and your customers. This can be hugely damaging to your organisation and your reputation, whilst also leaving you vulnerable to lawsuits from unhappy customers and employees. When your data is stored in the cloud, it’s completely external from your premises, which immediately adds an extra barrier when attackers try to gain access. To further this protection, your data will also require multi-factor authentication whenever access is requested, which ensures that only those who have the correct details can gain access to the sensitive data that’s stored within.
Another major factor that every modern business is bound to consider when making any investment in infrastructure is scalability – if the investment isn’t able to remain useful and practical as your business grows, it’s likely that your ROI on this investment will be rather low, which increases the risk of making the investment as there will be an expiration date on its effectiveness. Cloud computing uses virtual infrastructure to its advantage massively in this sense. By removing the physical limitations often put in place with in-house IT infrastructure, you’re able to expand or shrink your cloud platform capacity in line with your current level of demand. Whilst this seems a simple feature, it’s one that’s very useful for manufacturers looking to closely control their spending. Management platforms can often have considerable monthly subscription fees when you’re looking to utilise them to their maximum effectiveness, so paying over the odds for their service during periods of low demand can mean that you’re spending more money than you really need to. On the other hand, you may also find that you want to increase your capacity when your business outgrows the current plan. Previously, this may have meant implementing an entirely new system, but with the cloud, you’ll be able to easily scale your platforms to meet your new level of needs.
The support that you receive from your providers and offer to your customers will also be improved too – whilst you may previously have had to go through a lengthy and unorganised process to be able to receive support, you’ll now be able to do it from within the platform. By allowing you to find the support you need exactly where you need it, your cloud provider is ensuring that your operations run as smoothly as possible. It’s not just the customer service that you receive that’s improved, however; with all of your data organised more clearly and your production processes monitored more closely, you’re able to provide accurate responses to any customer queries that you may have to handle. The more accurate and detailed your response is, the less frustrating it is for your customers! By improving your customer service experience, you give yourself the best chance possible to attain high customer retention rates.
It’s clear to see that there are more benefits that first meet the eye when using cloud computing to revolutionise your manufacturing process, but if you still aren’t ready to commit, you risk being left in the dust behind your competition. To stay ahead, you need to act now – get in touch with our cloud computing experts here at Cloud Geeni to discover how we can help you to step into the 21st Century and dominate your sector over the years to come. With the help of our team, we believe that the cloud and the power that it possesses could be the key to unlocking your business’ future, so make sure you capitalise on that opportunity today and avoid being left in the past!