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The mystery behind manufacturing business transformation

21 March, 2017
Manufacturing blog image - 2 men inside warehouse

Here is an easy quiz for you: Do you know what the four industrial revolutions are? Alternatively, are you like most of us, remembering just one?

Manufacturing has repeatedly adopted resources and technologies that it continued using ever since. First, it incorporated the powers of steam and water. Next, electricity. Third, automation supported by electronics and computers.

Fourth, digital transformation.

Digital transformation is possible by advanced computing and decision-driving analytics. Automation of repeating, structured activities is still common, but you also find entire, automated facilities, self-healing production lines and manufacturing processes run by robots. Engineers and designers collaborate online, using virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) to develop products and features and model them in realistic usage scenarios.

Production managers rely on insight resulting from an analysis of data coming from connected industrial assets in the internet of things (IoT) to understand how well machines and equipment in their own facility or at customer’s sites are running and improve their performance and reliability.

Manufacturers gain insights that allow them to connect with customers and collaborate with them to make their products better or workshop new, custom items that they eventually launch to a larger market.

Growing your infrastructure

If there’s a magic component in these developments, it’s the cloud.

For manufacturers, taking much of computing into the cloud makes it possible to plan their digital transformation initiatives, take advantage of the IoT, and access sophisticated data analytics without allocating the sort of budget that is only available to global enterprises.

When you take to the cloud, you no longer need to purchase software licenses, servers, and networking equipment as you would for your own data centre. You contract with your cloud service providers, who owns the infrastructure and provides much of the security and data protection features you need.

You pay for what you use, nothing more. When you want to support more customers, products, transactions, or users, cloud resources can scale to meet the need. If you launch new product lines, acquire another company, or begin doing business in another country – the cloud is already there. That also means it does not really matter where all your people and facilities are. The cloud reaches across the globe.

Staying on the right track

As we discuss in this animation, many manufacturers transition into the cloud in order to benefit from the most advanced data analytics available today. The cloud’s elasticity makes it much easier to store and process data masses from the IoT or other sources, surround them with other meaningful information, which, for example, illustrates industry and market trends, or draws on findings from the company’s own ERP, CRM, or PLM systems – and get to work.

Using cloud computing, manufacturers we know perform predictive maintenance on their own and their customers’ industrial assets and achieve remarkable improvements in the critical metric of Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE).

You don’t just save expenses by moving to the cloud, but the work you can do with cloud-based resources lets you accomplish more wide-reaching efficiencies and cost reductions.

Making a difference

This is just the beginning.

Leading innovators use cloud infrastructures to become more competitive, fast-moving operations that accelerate product design and innovation cycles. When all collaborators can meet in the cloud and access shared resources, ideas and communications flow better. The distance between a new concept and a profitable product shrinks, and cloud intelligence helps you ensure that the product you develop effectively meets customer needs.

In Microsoft Dynamics 365, powerful modern ERP, CRM, and analytics capabilities are available on the Microsoft Azure cloud. You can move computing workloads at your own pace and build the hybrid or cloud-exclusive business platform that works best for you.

Columbus’ many years of manufacturing experience joins our successful cloud practice to help you make the transition low-risk and seamless. We get you underway to your own digital transformation in the most efficient and economical way. To find out more, download our guide to digital transformation in manufacturing here.


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