‘Cloud manufacturing’ might be a relatively new term for many, but as an approach to safeguarding supply chains in a relentlessly turbulent world it is becoming a strategy of choice for those at the cutting edge.
Budhwar says that cloud manufacturing – a digital stack comprising AI, machine learning (ML), Internet of Things (IoT) and other Industry 4.0 tech – is the next level of cloud services for manufacturing.
“A manufacturing cloud combines digital platforms, infrastructure-as-a-service, and capabilities such as AI, machine learning (ML), 5G and others,” says Budhwar.”This helps manufacturers innovate, accelerate time-to-market and respond to change with speed.
He adds that by allowing organisations to securely connect with people, workflows, processes and equipment, a manufacturing cloud “helps to build resilient supply chains and smart, agile factories”.
Such advantages are driving rapid adoption of this approach, especially in North America and Europe, where research shows that nearly 40% of organisations have already started adoption, 15% are conducting pilots and a further 15% are looking to deploy by 2026.
German automaker's smart manufacturing solution
An example, says Budhwar, is includes a German automobile manufacturer that has collaborated with a leading hyper-scaler to “build an industrial cloud for managing 120 manufacturing sites worldwide.
“This has been done on a single platform and a factory that uses the cloud to consolidate production data to give users an early warning of potential bottlenecks and thereby prevents costly disruptions,” Budhwar reveals.
In such a system, he adds, augmented and virtual reality solutions simulate manufacturing operations and support tasks such as inspecting product quality, monitoring remote sites, and conducting predictive maintenance.
“Digital technologies, along with industrial data lakes, connect various systems in real-time to create seamless information flows and visibility across the supply chain,” says Budhwar. “This enables complete automation of the supply chain to make it more flexible, agile and resilient.
ABB's cloud manufacturing the face of the future
He adds: “For example, the solution Infosys implemented at [Swiss tech multinational] ABB Group connects its engineering, manufacturing and sales processes globally to provide multiple benefits, including a standardised view for configuring products, zero manufacturing errors, much shorter time-to-market, end-to-end monitoring and complete transparency of processes and more.”
Budhwar says another use case is a connected factory for an aerospace manufacturer’s maintenance, repair and operations plant, where process bottlenecks were causing delivery delays and cost overruns.
“Thanks to the connected factory, the company is able to adhere to its schedules, optimise costs, and improve operational effectiveness efficiency from 57% to 70%,” he says.
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