What are the Advantages of Cloud Computing in Industrial Settings?
10 Jun, 2020
Across the globe, enterprises continue to increase their productivity levels and revenue projections by leveraging cloud computing and the digitalization it brings. Analyses of these enterprises show that businesses within manufacturing-related industries or settings see the cloud as a valuable partner and are reaping the advantages of cloud computing. Industrial enterprises benefitting from the cloud include both discrete and continuous manufacturers which have integrated industrial cloud solutions to ease operations.
This article will discuss:
The advantages of cloud computing in industrial settings
How industrial enterprises continue to leverage the cloud to drive business growth
Why it is important for enterprises to adopt cloud computing
The advantages of cloud computing in discrete manufacturing
Discrete manufacturing refers to the production of distinct items. Taking this into consideration, the discrete industry includes the automobile, aviation, smartphone, and biomedical industries. These industries integrate cloud computing in their everyday operations because of these advantages:
1. Enhanced product development – In discrete industrial settings, product development comes with many complexities. In most cases, the larger the product, the more challenges the manufacturer encounters. These challenges include handling iterative design, product testing, and implementation activities.
Cloud computing can help simplify these processes by providing enterprises with enough computing resources to handle complex tasks. An example is the use of the cloud to support generative design. In this case, the cloud provides the framework or platform that hosts design applications, finite element analysis, and stress analysis software. The example of Lightning Motorcycles’ use of the cloud to enhance its product development is a case study that highlights these advantages. Here, Autodesk leveraged the cloud to reduce the component mass of a motorcycle by 15%.
2. Enhanced collaboration – Discrete manufacturers rely on third-party suppliers to develop smaller components that are assembled into the larger product. To ensure that the manufacturing process flows smoothly, suppliers and the industrial enterprise team must stay on the same page throughout the design and assembly process. Cloud computing offers an excellent ecosystem for collaboration as it supports a majority of the collaborative tools used in industrial settings. The cloud supports Building Information Modeling software for architecture and simulation software for engineering. Other advantages of cloud computing can be seen in communication and collaboration. Cloud computing provides the ability to work remotely through configured devices and the option of having tens of stakeholders making contributions in real-time. This leads to increased efficiency in project management and delivering, receiving, and integrating feedback into projects.
3. Enhanced advanced planning procedures – Planning and scheduling are important considerations in every industrial setting. Cloud computing offers an excellent platform for keeping historical industrial data, inventory lists, and demand data. It also serves as a platform that supports advanced planning and scheduling applications which can use the collected data to develop production schedules. These optimized schedules ensure that downtime and its negative connotations are drastically reduced while also cutting down on resource waste. An excellent schedule leads to a data-driven approach to meeting customer demands, thus increasing customer satisfaction. The cloud also provides support for simulation software and the digital twin which are currently being used to enhance planning and scheduling processes.
The advantages of cloud computing in continuous manufacturing
Continuous manufacturing refers to flow processes used to manufacture products without any interruptions. Industrial settings where continuous manufacturing occurs rely on industrial automation and automated systems to ensure that repetitive tasks are executed accurately without mistakes. The advantages of cloud computing to industrial settings supporting continuous manufacturing include:
1. Enhanced automated processes – Automation relies on data analytics and, in advanced cases, artificial intelligence to run without the continuous assistance of humans. Cloud computing offers an excellent ecosystem for collecting historical data and integrating them into the applications that drive industrial automation. The digital process cloud computing brings to manufacturing ensures that automated processes can react in real-time to changes that occur within a shop floor without having to shut down the entire operation.
2. Enhanced security measures – Successful data breaches or cyberattacks can lead to shutdowns in continuous manufacturing processes. Once the data used in provisioning industrial automated systems is lost, automation stops. Cloud computing reduces the cybersecurity risks associated with manufacturing and other industrial processes in diverse ways. These ways include the use of firewalls and encryptions to protect an enterprise’s data from attacks. Cloud computing vendors also offer risk mitigation packages while providing security patches to ensure manufacturing data is kept safe. Cloud computing’s enhancement of the security infrastructure in industrial settings is not limited to continuous manufacturing outfits. The cloud also provides a more secure platform for discrete manufacturers to secure sensitive manufacturing data. Cloud service providers also integrate policies such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) laws into their platforms. This can help enterprises consistently stay on the right side of the law without having to do anything extra to integrate such laws.
3. Promotion of economic sustainability – The increasing digitization of industrial processes has led to an increase in the amount of data produced by enterprises in diverse industrial settings. This is due to the integration of the Internet of things, smart devices, and robotics in industrial shop floors. Manually managing these large data sets is next to impossible and keeping on-premise data centers to take care of data analysis comes with its own risk and is not economically feasible for small businesses. This is where some of the advantages of cloud computing come to the rescue. The flexible and scalable nature of the cloud provides a more comprehensive solution for managing the ever-increasing data sets produced within manufacturing facilities. Cloud computing packages are economical and provide a resource-friendly solution to managing and securing industrial data.
Cloud computing is currently driving growth across industrial production outfits by providing enterprises with a reliable computing ecosystem to work with. The cloud has also driven growth in the manufacturing industry to new heights which, in turn, have led to an increase in the rate at which it has been adopted by manufacturers. The advantages of cloud computing outlined above show that, alongside other interrelated technologies such as IoT, edge computing, and virtualization, the cloud will continue to play an important role in industrial settings for a long time.