Manufacturers throughout the globe are presented with a wide array of technological choices. Widespread usage and development of cloud computing has sparked numerous residual industries that could be of much assistance to those specializing in materials procurement management and factory operations. However, many production companies have pre-existing IT solutions that may not integrate well with the latest and greatest cloud technologies.
This newfound interest in the cloud stems from the introduction of the Internet of Things into the industrial economy. Machines on the ground floor now have the ability to communicate with one another in order to streamline production and the output of finished materials. Process automation also enables organizations to address and mitigate issues in real-time, allowing machinists and engineers to assign more time to pressing matters. In the event an issue does require their attention, they are given a better view of the issue through algorithmic diagnostic tools. The problem is, these companies need servers that can support such complex data transactions.
Spread across all avenues
It's not as if there's one single IoT device capable of overseeing the operations of every unique machine, product, transportation unit and the various other necessary assets of the contemporary manufacturer. Manufacturing Business Technology reported that the distributed nature of a machine-to-machine network causes CIOs to reconsider investing in the cloud. Although the solution would result in a more flexible, scalable work environment, appointing technicians for each kind of device, combined with an IT team capable of understanding and managing a cloud-driven system, comes as a challenge.
"Unfortunately, few IT professionals have ever worked with the protocols and interfaces that are most common to industrial automation networks," the news source acknowledged. "Setting up input/output stations or configuring sensors are things which IT people simply have no experience with."
For this reason, many manufacturers choose to seek the assistance of managed IT services to help them acclimate their staff to the shift in protocol. These outsourced professionals typically have the resources and knowledge necessary to assess the communicative capabilities of automated devices working around the clock and how they would best operate within a system. Manufacturing Business Technology noted that all mechanisms within the network must be able to deliver key information for preventative maintenance, which requires routine assessments of the IT infrastructure on all levels.
It belongs in the future
Karen McCandless, a contributor to Prime, noted that manufacturers will eventually be forced to invest in the burgeoning market in order to maintain pace with competitors across the globe. Although the initial installation costs and introductory phase will be expensive, the long-term return on investment is expected to produce favorable results. Mirko Bäcker, marketing director at Tecnomatix, claimed that the general consensus among professionals was that they will be able to optimize their strategic sourcing, as cloud computing will provide them with faster delivery of all obtainable products.
"In the future, production components will directly communicate with the manufacturing execution system and send out instructions to downstream processes," said Bäcker. "In this way, it will become more intelligent, networked and connected."
This enhanced communicative ability is expected to eliminate a wide range of tedious employee tasks. Manually logging inventory into an Excel file and sending the document to the appropriate parties is an obsolete practice that doesn't give manufacturers the full range of motion of which others are now taking advantage.
Widespread integration of automated tools and cloud computing is sure to revolutionize global sourcing. As less time will be spent transmitting information from the materials acquisition to production phases, distributors throughout the world will be able to procure finished items more quickly, in turn being able to satisfy consumer requests faster than ever before.