Cloud Computing, SaaS and the new normal for manufacturers

Over the last two to three decades, cloud computing and software-as-a-service (SaaS) have increasingly gained momentum in their adoption. More IT departments, CIOs, CFOs, CEOs, and many other disciplines are now realising the business benefits of Cloud/SaaS over their traditional in-house client-server IT architectures.

Jason Chester, Director of Global Channel Programs, InfinityQS has seen that manufacturers are actively switching their legacy quality management systems to more advanced cloud-based quality platforms. He explores the cost advantages, power, and versatility of the cloud that have become essential to survival.

The role of the pandemic

Businesses rapidly deployed and migrated to cloud-based solutions to support remote workers through any time, anywhere access to critical business processes and information. Industries across all sectors had their hands forced; prior prejudices around cloud were overtaken by the fact that they had to act quickly to protect their business from being left behind as the world began to shut down.

The cloud upends how manufacturers can collect, store, analyse and leverage value from their quality data. Data becomes unified in a centralised repository, and its subsequent analyses become rapidly available and effortlessly consumable, providing information and real-time intelligence organisation-wide.

The rising demand for industry 4.0

A cloud-first strategy is becoming the gold standard for most legacy renovation projects and a major technology consideration in a post-pandemic strategy. Many have embraced the push for digital transformation in recent years to meet the increasing demand for power, flexibility, and versatility that cloud solutions provide.

Industry 4.0 marks a promise of a new, fourth, industrial revolution, all in the quest to overcome the current limits to productivity and innovation that manufacturers currently find themselves curtailed by. Automation has plateaued when it comes to providing sizable gains in efficiency, so turning to what Industry 4.0 can provide is surely the answer.

Liberating your data from traditional limitations

With data available in real-time via the cloud, the ‘big picture’ is more available to view than ever. Manufacturers can analyse data across their entire enterprise to pinpoint problem areas, identify sources' best practices and prioritise their resources. While simultaneously ensuring regulatory compliance and improving quality consistency across the entire organisation.

Respond proactively on the plant floor

A preventative approach to quality and safety just isn’t possible when using manual methods for data collection and analysis. Operators spend valuable time recording data with a pencil and paper, then sift through page after page of control charts—on top of all their other daily responsibilities. It’s easy to see how mistakes could be made and production issues could be missed.

In employing cloud strategies to manage data, trends or problems can be detected and monitored in real time. With legacy systems these problems and quality issues can potentially go unchecked for some considerable time, the cloud allows for a more immediate response.

Cloud-based statistical process control (SPC) software can automatically collect measurement values from a variety of data sources, and then monitor processes in real-time. When the software detects specification or statistical violations, automated alarms instantly alert key personnel, allowing them to take immediate action to correct any issues.

The new normal

As months go by, manufacturers are embracing the new normal one step at a time, a new, digital-driven quality age. Cloud computing may have appeared as a great change in the past but embracing these technologies has become easier when starting small. By starting with single projects governed by a cloud solution, leadership can monitor the benefits in a microcosm before deploying it across their organisation. This is only the first step to introducing new digital technology on the manufacturing floor and thus embracing the new normal that manufacturers should expect to be industry-wide in the next few years.

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