Today's highly dynamic and distributed manufacturing sector requires a modern and agile network infrastructure. Cloud manufacturing and Network as a Service (NaaS) solutions could be the right fit for your business.
Cloud manufacturing as a concept helps eliminate the need for complex on-premises computer systems. The use of cloud computing in manufacturing, along with NaaS, will better support the adoption of technological advances, such as 3D printing, blockchain, automation or artificial intelligence (AI). This is apt for a sector amid a flux of innovation.
The benefits of cloud computing and the Network as a Service model
NaaS provides a flexible, programmable, scalable, and reliable modern network framework that can support the most demanding dynamic applications and advanced technologies while connecting users, devices and partners to public clouds and private data centers globally. Its cloud-centric services offer greater flexibility and customization than conventional hardwired infrastructure. Many changes can typically be implemented through software, not hardware, in a managed or co-managed model. This means IT teams can make many network policy changes on-demand with scalable bandwidth options in a fraction of the time.
Technological innovations have enabled hyper-converged infrastructures, hybrid clouds, SD-WAN, digital customer experiences and security services that continue to evolve and for manufacturers, it can be difficult to know where to invest and what to maintain.
This is where NaaS for cloud manufacturing is ideal. It's delivered with subscription-based billing that minimizes large, upfront CAPEX costs. This is what makes Network as a Service inherently more agile, scalable and fitting when it comes to technology adoption than traditional, hardware-based networks; customers simply purchase more capacity and services, as needed, instead of spending costly resources on fixed hardware-based services. This gives flexibility and peace of mind knowing you can scale up or down your networking capacity or change services as quickly as needed.
The benefits of cloud computing in manufacturing
Ultimately, the use of cloud computing in manufacturing allows enterprises to more easily tailor software and networking needs to meet their specific challenges and ambitions by optimizing IT infrastructure. At a high level, the benefits of cloud computing and NaaS include the following:
As cloud computing and NaaS include more flexible and virtualized services they can more easily grow or contract in line with your business needs. Not requiring large investments in hardware infrastructures and proprietary-based services means it can quickly and seamlessly be deployed and can typically be incorporated with either public or private cloud resources. This helps quickly build synergies across the business and can support faster technology and innovation adoption.
Flexibility and customization
Cloud computing with NaaS can make smart manufacturing and industry 4.0 possible for any size company because they can pay for network services that fits their organization and not be burdened with huge upfront infrastructure costs. The research shows that innovation pays off: According to a PwC report, "companies that fail to tackle digital transformation are seeing profits erode by as much as 5.1%, compared with industry peers."
Cloud manufacturing use cases
From automation to better data analysis, the use of cloud computing in manufacturing with NaaS can support several transformative use cases for manufacturers.
Improve your data use
Cloud computing and NaaS help leaders make the most of the digital factory floor by gathering and analyzing data faster. Cloud computing can support data captured from edge devices, such as edge Internet of Things (IoT) platforms, that are used to manage autonomous robots and sensors deployed on the shop floor. The data can be processed, from anywhere, to run remote computer simulations or through analytics software for insights. This process ultimately makes data more accessible and prevents it from ending up in unhelpful silos, resulting in managers who understand their operations better and can therefore bring in factory floor improvements and innovations faster.
Automate your ERP
Cloud-supported enterprise resource planning (ERP) can help companies automate parts of the production process. For example, cloud-based software can manage and track inputs such as order intake, sales and price to adjust their production line planning accordingly and enact the changes autonomously. This will also automatically update inventory levels, supply and demand data for the raw materials needed to make products, adapting orders as needed. Worker load is greatly reduced and supply and demand forecasting are more accurately managed.
Innovate your maintenance approach
With so many sensors now affordably deployed on the factory floor, preventive maintenance, which directly tracks an asset's health, status, and performance in real time, is becoming more commonplace. Cloud-based predictive maintenance can enable remote monitoring of asset conditions, which can either be outsourced or managed by remote team members.
But when it comes to hands-on maintenance, the data can be easily shared with onsite staff maintenance crews through innovations such as augmented reality (AR), meaning they have the data not just at their fingertips but in front of their eyes, all while seeking remote assistance from expert crews located elsewhere.
The future of cloud manufacturing
The manufacturing industry is in an exciting place because of recent innovations. At the same time, with everything changing so rapidly, it can be hard to know what technology to keep and what to transform. Working with a trusted partner can help you revolutionize your organization with a modern, flexible Network as a Service and identify the best use of cloud computing in manufacturing.
Learn more about how Verizon can help build a more connected manufacturing future with cloud manufacturing.
The author of this content is a paid contributor for Verizon.