Manufacturers continue to challenge themselves to improve their processes, whether through faster production or more accurate material planning, to remain a competitor in the industry.
One way manufacturers are becoming more efficient, as well as accurate, is through cloud-connected technology. By adopting cloud-based strategies and technologies, 66 percent of manufacturers have improved their plant’s productivity and business insights.
Many have reached these levels of productivity by using one of these six cloud-connected technologies:
Enterprise Resource Planning
Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems are a recent addition to cloud-based technologies. One of the biggest benefits a cloud-based ERP system offers to manufacturers is streamlining their day-to-day processes by giving real-time information about products, order statuses and deliveries.
Providers of cloud-based ERP systems often include a level of security that matches or exceeds what in-house IT departments provide for traditional ERP systems, which ensures cloud data remains secure.
New developments, such as increased functionality, customization and accessibility on tablets and smartphones make cloud-based ERP systems a more appealing option for manufacturers because of their versatility.
Human Resource Management
Human Resource Management (HRM) cloud technologies offer manufacturers, as well as other businesses, a significant increase in efficiency. Cloud-based HRM programs optimize functions like payroll, time tracking and management. Companies that have adopted HRM cloud programs have reduced certain tasks by hours.
Customization, as well as access on mobile devices, makes cloud-based HRM programs more viable for users. Additional developments, such as performance management, employee feedback and onboarding tools, improve this cloud-based technology’s effectiveness and efficiency in the workplace.
Vendor Managed Inventory
Vendor Managed Inventory (VMI) cloud software is common in digitized industries, such as banking and retailing. VMI offers real-time tracking of your existing inventory, as well as information on orders, transactions and shipping details, to increase your plant’s efficiency with accurate data. The cloud-based system is also invaluable when restocking or during short- or long-term bottlenecks.
Recent developments in cloud-based VMI systems make them easy to integrate with other programs, such as Inventory Shipping Receiving and Picking (ISRP) software and ERP systems. Machine learning for VMI systems is another development that predicts market demands and adjusts the number of resources needed, which reduces costs.
Automated self-service s a cloud technology manufacturers are working to adopt, as 48 percent of manufacturers feel customer relationships will become very important within a year.
The technology offers immense benefits in efficiency. Automated customer service and support, as well as order statuses, save your employees time and provide accurate information to customers by using integrated data from the cloud.
Whether that automation comes in the form of a digital answering service, a chatbot or automated email system, automating less important customer service questions can free up employees to handle more pressing matters.
Additionally, consumers are also more likely to call a traditional 1-800 number — a 2011 study found that 57 percent or respondents would rather call an 800 number than a typical local number. More warehousing and shipping issues might be addressed if more consumers provide feedback.
Furthermore, updates to automated self-service options include their integration with cloud-based technologies. The evolution and growth of AI has also influenced this software, with Google’s AI now capable of handling and ranking calls based on their language.
Wearable devices act as hosts to cloud-based technology. The benefit of wearable items is they’re able to improve efficiency for manufacturing plants by teaching employees and providing them with the resources to handle tasks, such as repairs, through cloud-based apps.
Workers in the oil and gas industry, for example, have used virtual reality headsets to conduct repairs through a cloud-based app. Many trade fields are taking this approach due to the growing gap between experienced and new workers in the manufacturing industry.
Recent advancements in wearables make it possible to access cloud-based software through a wristwatch. They’re also now more viable for manufacturers because of the increased number of available applications for wearable devices.
Internet of Things
The Internet of Things (IoT) is an overarching cloud technology that’s become a valuable resource for manufacturers interested in incorporating the cloud into their plants.
The Industrial Internet of Things (or IIoT as it’s called) improves efficiency by providing accurate information on production statuses or automated machines. It can also predict maintenance and determine which hardware components are damaged or in need of replacement.
Advances to the IIoT focus on involving consumers in the manufacturing process, especially in the design of 3D items, which is becoming a growing market. Another development is the ability to control production machines from tablets, and that increases worker safety. Last but not least, nachine learning is another addition to production lines by teaching manufacturing equipment to produce products without faults.
Cloud-connected technologies are a growing component of the manufacturing industry.
The seamless sharing of information, as well as analysis of available data, provide you with the information to make informed purchases of materials and prevent waste. Its accessibility also improves efficiency by sharing accurate information with all parties, from manufacturers and suppliers to distributors.
It’s obvious the manufacturing industry will adopt these technologies due to their impact on the workplace — it’s just a matter of when.
Kayla Matthews is an independent technology writer at Productivity Bytes.