What’s the single most important quality future manufacturers should possess? Some might say it’s a reliable supply chain. Others might say it’s technology, skilled staff, or a great sales/marketing department pushing products.
It’s true that all of those things are important, even underrated, but they are all too specific. The most important quality for any manufacturer to have, no matter how big, small, or specific they may be, is flexibility.
Manufacturing is in the midst of a massive transformation right now, variously referred to as the 4th Industrial Revolution and Industry 4.0. And though the outlines of this transformation have been loosely sketched and breathlessly endorsed, the truth is that no one is quite sure what manufacturing will look like in 50 years, 10 years, or even five years.
When so much is unknown, being able to change, adapt, and evolve is key. But how can today’s manufacturers ensure they have the flexibility that tomorrow requires? The solution is to embrace tools like cloud-based manufacturing ERP (enterprise resource planning) that avoid an on-site orientation. To illustrate why, learn about five ways the cloud builds flexibility into manufacturing:
1. Scale with More Speed and Fewer Limits
It is undeniable that the capabilities of today will be inadequate for the needs of tomorrow. But when a change is necessary and what it will look like is incredibly difficult to predict. The cloud gives manufacturers the ability to scale their capabilities up or down almost instantaneously and without fear of running out of capacity. In addition to adding flexibility, the cloud minimizes the cost and disruption of making a change.
2. Respond to Changes in the Competitive and Regulatory Landscape
There are few, if any, manufacturers that can claim to have their market cornered, especially with inevitable changes made to national and international regulations affecting manufacturing. Because of this, manufacturers will need to make both major and minor adjustments incoming years. The cloud enables that with the least amount of disruption possible.
3. Embrace Data-Driven Technologies with Confidence
Technologies like connected devices, intelligent robots, and big data analytics all promise to have a sweeping impact on the future of manufacturing. But the side effect of these technologies is that they produce massive amounts of data that must be carefully managed to be of any value. The cloud provides a natural platform for manufacturers to handle this data, and to embrace/implement new technologies in whatever ways serve their interests.
4. Minimize the Burden Created by Manufacturing IT
As important as IT is to manufacturing, the two remain distinct entities. Most manufacturers would prefer to spend more time focused on production and less time worried about maintenance, monitoring, and data security. The cloud handles much of the work that IT upkeep requires, giving manufacturers the flexibility to focus on their core competencies and most pressing priorities.
5. Avoid Being Stuck in the Present
The concept of an on-site or in-house deployment is quickly becoming anachronistic. Both experts and average users agree that the cloud is the natural orientation for IT of the future. Rejecting it simply subjects manufacturers and others to higher costs, greater hassles, fewer opportunities, and more uncertainty. By embracing the cloud now, manufacturers are in the best position to take advantage of whatever the future has to offer.
Think about the last time your manufacturing operation had to confront a major change. Did it leave you feeling like your operation was flexible and agile or slow and stubborn? If you fall into the second category, the coming years will be a lot more difficult than you would like. Rather than struggling to stay relevant, move to the cloud now, and give yourself the flexibility to stay ahead of the curve.