Step up to the cloud for next industrial revolution

25-Jan-2017

The industry that led the first industrial revolution is now at risk of being left behind as a new one begins, says Doug Fair, COO of InfinityQS

Manufacturers are ill-prepared for the next wave of technological developments, according to EEF. The adoption of new technologies, categorising the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR), can drastically improve the processes and quality control of manufacturers.

“During the past few years, technology has made it significantly easier to manage multiple facets of business. Almost every industry has or is going through some element of digital transformation that will make their processes smoother and their lives easier. Historically, however, the manufacturing industry has lagged behind these transformations, specifically in the use of modern technology, such as the cloud. Research by EEF discovered that only 42% of manufacturers were ready for the changes and opportunities that 4IR will bring,” says Doug.

“One of the common issues manufacturers face is ensuring consistent quality across multiple plants that are geographically spread out. Manufacturers can have multiple plants producing the same product, all with varying degrees of quality and deficiencies. Many manufacturers believe adopting new software and processes across operations requires a large investment and, therefore, are unwilling to upgrade.”

“Many manufacturers are fairly mature in their specific industries and the systems they use haven’t changed in a number of years. The use of legacy IT systems and the approach that ‘if it isn’t broken, why fix it’ permeates the industry with many manufacturers remaining sceptical about the true benefits that a cloud system can have on their business. It is therefore the responsibility of cloud solution providers to ensure manufacturers are adequately educated about the true benefits of a cloud-based system.”

Doug continues: “The adoption of cloud solutions within the manufacturing space has huge benefits for the whole industry, and those who adopt it sooner stand to benefit the most. It helps to increase product accuracy across all plants, reducing the chances of costly recalls and damaged reputations. Cloud offerings can boost processing speeds, turning quality into a competitive advantage, and increase insight into supplier operations to ensure high levels of quality. By adopting a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) approach, a manufacturer’s CapEx expenditure is turned into a lower, predictable OpEx expense, offering the opportunity to reduce the overall costs associated with operating software.”

“Many people recognise the benefits that digital technology can bring to their operations, with 61% believing it would boost their production. A number of respondents, however, were concerned that they would not be able to keep up with the changes expected from the introduction of digital technologies into their plants. This hesitance, therefore, is an additional reason why many manufacturers remain with the status quo, escalating the possibility of being left behind by those manufacturers who embrace the digital revolution. This unwillingness to move to a unified system of quality control across manufacturing plants exposes these manufacturers to quality variables that can put the company in jeopardy of recalls.”

“4IR is set to bring huge benefits to the manufacturing industry, but only if there is a willingness from the plant managers and executive leadership to adopt these new changes. The barriers associated with cost, training and security can be easily counteracted by the speed, efficiency and uniform quality that will be delivered across plants once the new systems are in place. Digitally transforming the manufacturing plant is the next step in the ongoing manufacturing revolution,” he concludes.

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