Manufacturing on Cloud Nine

cloud manufacturing diagram

Since the rapid uptake of cloud computing during the last two decades, wireless data access has become omnipresent. Many people, though unaware, use services of the cloud; while posting a status to Facebook, uploading a selfie to Instagram and downloading a document from Google Drive cloud computing is being utilized.

Now what is the cloud?

The cloud can be thought of, in the most basic sense, as a collection of servers that deliver and store data. These servers have powerful processors and nearly unfathomable storage, but the end user (you and I) can remotely access this cloud computing application with an internet connection and bare minimum hardware.

And we do that whenever we post status updates on Facebook and all the other everyday things we do online.

While domestic users are enjoying the flexibility of cloud computing, it is businesses that really benefit from it. The scalability (resource upgrade and downgrade capability) and minimum capital investment in a cloud solution saves companies millions of dollars.

Think about it, while otherwise a company had to invest heavily in computer hardware that depreciates over time, cloud computing allows them to pay only for the resources they use. Thus making the company efficient, nimble and cost-effective.

THAT WAS COMPUTING, THIS IS MANUFACTURING

As cloud computing has expanded and evolved for commercial applications, the manufacturing sector has adopted it and spawned cloud manufacturing. Rather than build and manage their own data facilities and hardware resources, big companies like Siemens, Carriers and BNP Paribas use ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) software providers like Acumatica and Cincom Systems. This promotes the concept of lean manufacturing amongst companies.

Author: Shing Hin Yeung

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With this type of manufacturing infrastructure, resources are utilized efficiently so that there is minimum overburdening and waste generation.

TWO IS COMPANY, THREE IS A CLOUD

Cloud manufacturing operates exactly like cloud computing with slight modifications. Its setup is devolved into 3 main components:

  • A central manufacturing cloud which houses manufacturing capabilities and resources as well as all the applications utilized in the manufacturing lifecycle of a certain product.
  • Then there are manufacturing resource providers that export their services to the manufacturing cloud.
  • Finally, the manufacturing resource users query the manufacturing cloud and import the services they are interested in depending upon the search results generated.

So, in effect, the cloud manufacturing technique is like using manufacturing resources and capabilities in the same manner as electricity. You know your demand, you forward your requirements to a central service provider that gets you the desired service from a third party.

In the case of inventory management, companies using cloud manufacturing don’t have to incur any data latency issues and pay for a consultant. Rather, their respective consultant will be directly connected to the data stream of the company from a secure portal in the manufacturing cloud. He/she can access the company’s data from virtually any location where there is internet access.

It radically moves current manufacturing techniques towards lean alternatives.

And cloud manufacturing is advancing still. That day isn’t far away when cloud manufacturing is the method of choice for most manufacturers because of its inherent efficiency.


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