Manufacturing is bread and butter of all major economies. It’s part of what we all consume, and the manufacturing industry is one of the most technically versed. They try to stay up to date the latest manufacturing techniques, and are always looking to squeeze out any more efficient on the conveyor belt. One of the next biggest and existing integrations to come is cloud computing, with many companies considering it the next bid edge they can use to stay ahead in their sector.
Plex Systems, who are a software manufacturing company have published a report titled “The State of Manufacturing Technology”. In it they interview 130 leading manufacturers regarding their current implementation and also planned adoption of big data, & aspects of cloud computing that are becoming mainstream. Plex has taken a very unbiased approach to the key technologies and innovations that are now creating revolutions on the shop floor, and have delivered a solid, easy speaking study that is packed full of useful insights.
The majority of the business surveyed are headquartered in the US.
- 89% of the manufacturers that responded are global, and have reported that their revenue is rising during the previous 5 years
- 39% have achieved 20% growth during the past 5 years
- 67% of respondents are operating multiple manufacturing facilities and 50% said they operated internationally
Big data is the data that comes from an integrated and comprehensive set of analytical tools. Putting together all the parts of your business into various reports, and allowing you to understand all the key points to that business which are only possible from cross factor data analysis.
- 31% of the manufacturers have said they are evaluating their big data needs, and opportunities and plan to explore this in the next year
- 35% claim that data analysis is the most important skill that the next generation of employees can posses, and this was rated above skills such as mechanical engineering.
Cloud computing see’s manufacturers moving their software programs to the cloud, instead of having it on premise based, as well as the data they store.
- 93% stated that they are already using tablet computers in their manufacturing operations
- 90% said that that their data security had improved with the integration of professional managed cloud computing solutions.
- 81% of the manufactures say that having a secure, scalable cloud platform improves mobile access to data.
- 77% are expecting to increase plant and enterprise integration investments directly into cloud computing.
- 74% have stated that as a result of adopting cloud applications they have better process integration with external stakeholders, such as suppliers.
- 66% said that cloud technologies have already given them valuable insight into their business
- 40% of the manufacturers drew a correlation between cloud technology and their ability to create innovation within their business during the the next 5 years.
Shop Floor Improvements
This looked at what exactly cloud computing had already done for the manufacturers surveyed.
- 73% planned to enhance their quality control programs as a direct result of using cloud technologies.
- 66% of the businesses said they had seen direct improvements in plant productivity
- 61% said they had obtained a higher quality of product quality
- 44% of the manufacturers said they used at least one cloud application already, and the most popular use was for file storage and sharing, expense tracking and also CRM.
Internet of Things
There are more than 50% of the manufacturing cloud transactions that are direct machine to machine. The study defines this as a device with an IP address that is exchanging data with the recording system in a typical distributed manufacturing environment. These devices included:
- 90% Scanners
- 80% Consumer mobile devices
- 55% IP enabled tools and machines
- 48% Sensors
- 25% Low power Bluetooth devices
The study found that the area manufacturers were most interested in was using cloud based quality management applications to better enable compliance with IP enabled tools and machines. Manufacturing parameters such as tolerance, torque and other tool parameters can be all accessed from the cloud, and calibrated to operate faster, or slower, and improve the accuracy, quality and ultimately the production efficiency.
This part of the study looked at mobile technology, and devices such as smart wearables.
- 64% of the manufacturers respondents stated they provide Apple phone and tablets to their employees
- 45% responded that they provide Android devices
- 36% said they expected to incorporate smart glasses such as Google Glass in the next 5 years
- 35% claimed that smart glasses where overhyped, and they wouldn’t be considering them.
- 30% said they were taking advantage of webcam technology to improve their repair and training processes.
What this study reveals
This study shows that manufacturers are ready to adopt the next wave of technology, and in some cases are already heavily investing in it, and already integrating it within the workflow. There is already lots of integration taking place with robotics in manufacturing and the cloud. This can only have a good result for consumers, and the industries as a whole. With quality having a direct impact on the longevity and safety of goods, this will provide positive feedback for the cloud enchanted consumers to respond with too. Resulting in greater sales, and brand loyalty. Something that all companies are craving.