Automation and the cloud in manufacturing

Cloud computing is more important than ever in many different industries. The cloud is becoming the go-to choice for many organizations for data storage, project analysis and team collaboration, and enterprise cloud services strive to facilitate these aspects. Supply chain and logistics management are no different. Cloud-based tools that help facilitate these functions are not only more flexible than on-premises products, but they offer the scalability necessary to accommodate expanding infrastructure should businesses undergo growth. Supply chain organizations face enormous challenges to be faster, more nimble, with greater transparency and cost efficiency; both in terms of business process and the way in which they acquire and use technology and IT tools. Cloud-based software solutions that are geared toward streamlining the supply chain and all of the related operations are providing material help to the industrial manufacturing industry in several ways. The inherent flexibility and versatility provided by cloud-based solutions have an important impact on this continually changing sector – one that has been traditionally reticent to invest in new tools and technologies for fear of regulatory issues and all the risks associated with change.

Despite that hesitance, in recent years, these organizations have realized that the cloud offers them a way to improve operations and reduce time to value. In order to foster coordination and a common thread between people, process and technology, organizations are turning to the cloud now more than ever. In fact, according to an IDC survey published in early 2015, approximately 66 percent and 68 percent of global manufacturers were using public and private cloud, respectively, for more than two applications. This statistic clearly indicates the benefits of and the growing need for cloud-based tools within the industrial manufacturing sector. Leaders want solutions that not only can be deployed quickly but are also highly responsive for a distributed workforce and can scale easily and increase agility. An agile company is one that is able to quickly respond to changing market conditions, and it’s a hallmark of truly competitive companies. Agility can be demonstrated as faster time-to-market as well as flexibility and adaptability to ever-changing marketplace and customer demands. In a 2016 survey, Inspirage found the 73% of Manufacturing companies consider it Important or Very Important that supply chain Cloud offerings can establish and scale collaboration to reduce risk and increase agility.

Benefits of the cloud in manufacturing

There are myriad ways the cloud can be used in manufacturing. Companies can use enterprise resource planning solutions to aggregate and share important data across their entire organizations, among other important uses. TechTarget noted that the inherent flexibility and ease of implementation offered by cloud-based tools are two of the most important benefits for industrial manufacturers.

In addition, according to Supply & Demand Chain Executive contributor Gavin Davidson, the cloud provides another key advantage: improved oversight. The increasingly global supply chain necessitates that companies have the ability to sync data and operations over a large area and multiple suppliers. Cloud-based solutions created specifically for industrial manufacturers allow them to work more closely with their suppliers and share information. These same Cloud solutions can ease monitoring and adaption to ever-increasing government requirements.

“In this new cloud-based world, manufacturers have the ability to not only manage their own operations, but also those of their partners – so controlling and gaining insight into their entire supply chain and therefore the entire lifecycle of their manufactured products from prototype through to finished product,” Davidson wrote. “By taking a cloud-based approach, manufacturers can more quickly scale up (and scale down) and repurpose [their] manufacturing facilities without having to incur the massive IT costs, time and maintenance overheads which would be required to effect change in antiquated on-premises systems.”

Modern Cloud Supply Chain Management suites include a complete, end-to-end solution for manufacturing and materials management to enable a faster more agile enterprise. They support the complete product lifecycle from product inception through product development, product planning, manufacturing, materials management, and order management and fulfillment.

Organizations are finding the cloud is the right option for their supply chains.

Organizations are finding the cloud is the right option for their supply chains.Organizations are finding the cloud is the right option for their supply chains.


The importance of automation

In the realm of manufacturing, companies are feeling pressure to implement automated processes. According to a recent survey conducted by the Manufacturing Alliance for Productivity and Innovation, pressures within the supply chain itself have begun to drive adoption of automation across the board.

Cloud-based solutions have a part to play in the automation landscape, as well. The survey found that automation use by competitors, customers and suppliers counted among the top three drivers of investment in these kinds of tools. As the supply chain become increasingly more global, automation tools can have an important impact on product quality and operations management. Indeed, the improvement of product quality was cited as one of the most important outcomes of automation by those who took the survey.

As automation adaption increases, automated equipment and process monitoring becomes critical. The cloud deployments for data storage and project analysis help support the tools to maintain product quality and operations management. Overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) is a hierarchy of metrics developed to evaluate how effectively a manufacturing operation is utilized. Overall equipment effectiveness quantifies how well a manufacturing unit performs relative to its designed capacity, during the periods when it is scheduled to run. These metrics have a direct relationship to product quality. Providing this information across the an organization in a collaborative cloud based solution help build a foundation for running Continuous Improvement programs such as Lean and Six Sigma.

Inspirage are the Integrated Supply Chain Specialists that integrate information, accelerate innovation and deliver operational excellence. Inspirage’s cloud solutions (powered by Oracle) cover, financials, innovation management, supply chain management and logistics management. At Inspirage, we’ve created solutions specifically geared toward the industrial manufacturing sector that are proven to help our clients improve time to value and reduce risks. We utilize unified team that provide Management Consulting and Oracle Application Solutions services together. This combination and approach provides a unique blend experience and expertise in strategy development, industry specific business process management and solutions. For more information, be sure to contact the supply chain management and operations planning experts at Inspirage today.

Richard Rodgers | Key Contributor

Richard is a Solution Architect for Inspirage where helps drive the adoption of manufacturing best practices and related business processes for Inspirage customers. He evangelizes the use of the integrated Oracle solution for manufacturing and helps customers understand how to deploy these processes. Richard joined Inspirage after a 14-year career at Oracle where he served as the Product Manager for Flow Manufacturing and then the Product Manager for all of EBS Manufacturing, with an emphasis on Configure to Order process and mass customization. Later, he joined the Industrial Manufacturing, Industry Business Unit (IBU), where he focused on architecting solutions from quote to service for Oracle’s manufacturing customers and prospects. Finally, he served as a member of the Application Global Sales Support (AGSS) team, where again worked with customers and prospects to help them understand and implement best practices for manufacturing.