The Biggest Industrial Leaps Thanks to Cloud Technology
Cloud technology is revolutionizing how industrial businesses operate. Our article on the ‘9 Positives of Cloud Computing & Public Cloud For Businesses’ explains how cloud computing can, among other things, facilitate convenient scaling, allow flexibility in terms of accessibility to resources, and ensure files are secure. The world’s biggest companies are now implementing cloud technology, including streaming giant Netflix, which addressed spikes in programming demands by turning to the cloud, and Apple, which leveraged cloud computing to expand the voice-controlled Siri (users’ questions to Siri are sent to the cloud, where they are processed). The shift to cloud computing has paved the way for industrial leaps in this age of innovation, and the following industries have made strides by adopting cloud technology.
Manufacturing: On to Industry 4.0
The Manufacturer defines Industry 4.0 as the next manufacturing revolution, one that is “bringing a new level of automation to manufacturing by allowing machines’ processes to be reprogrammed with minimal input from humans.” Several technologies are enabling this revolution, including machine learning, big data, and cloud computing. Cloud technology enables every piece of equipment in the manufacturing process to be connected to one server. This allows the copious amounts of data produced by manufacturing machines to be stored in one place. In the past there was no way to send, receive, or store all this data for immediate use. Using cloud technology, employees can easily access all the information they need from the company’s virtual server.
With information available in an instant, work processes have become much more streamlined. For instance, a customer can submit an order, and the cloud-enabled system will do the rest: order stocks, schedule the actual work, calculate costs, and submit the gathered data to the customer. Consequently, manufacturing companies are leveraging automation and cloud technology to increase efficiency and lower costs. Sanko Gosei Technologies and Ralco Industries are two companies that have benefited greatly by turning to the cloud. Japanese company Sanko Gosei Technologies, a manufacturer of large tonnage injection moulding, automated its manual processes with the help of cloud enterprise resource planning (ERP). The decision led to a 30% increase in efficiency, along with lowering costs and increasing customer satisfaction. Ralco Industries addressed inventory inaccuracy and inefficient planning by replacing multiple disconnected systems with a single, connected cloud ERP. This allowed the company to reduce its inventory on hand by 15%, “and save nearly $100 per purchase order processed.”
Energy: Furthering Growth
Oil well health monitoring is crucial in the oil and gas industry, and many companies are using Internet of Things-enabled sensors to keep the wells safe. These sensors are strategically placed in oilfields where they can monitor and detect problems in real-time and are able to alert personnel immediately. The amount of data accumulated from these sensors makes it impossible to store on-site. Cloud storage addresses this problem, as it “offers highly scalable storage to meet the needs of even the most connected oilfields.” This allows oil and gas companies to expand without the need to acquire more on-site storage devices.
Recently, Exxon Mobile signed up for the largest deployment of cloud technology in the industry. It will do so with the aid of Microsoft, whose Azure cloud computing software will be able to “help detect leaks earlier, reduce repair times, make faster drilling decisions and monitor greenhouse gas emissions.” More importantly, Microsoft’s cloud-based algorithms will push Exxon towards its production goal of 600,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day (BPD) — or over 200% more than Exxon’s fourth-quarter production for 2018.
Company Logistics: Expanding the Workforce
It goes without saying that the cloud has helped the emerging mobile workforce. As Network World notes in its feature on cloud’s future, “cloud adoption is undoubtedly the cornerstone of digital transformation,” which is why 20% of enterprises planned to double public cloud spending in 2018, while 71% planned to invest more than double. Central to this transformation is data-driven mobile resource management (MRM), where cloud technology, among other things, facilitates more data capacity and storage flexibility. These give remote workers greater access to data, as they have the ability to access and store information from any location with an internet connection. Cloud-enabled MRM systems have become vital to remote working setups as they can help automate mundane and repetitive tasks and enhance productivity — to the benefit of both the company and its mobile workers.
Cloud technology is also allowing companies to have better access to workers in the field. This is can be seen through operatives working in the logistics industry, where fleet management is central to day-to-day operations. Among the many tasks fleet managers need to perform are keeping track of scheduled maintenance, registration renewals, monitoring associated costs, and tracking routes and driver performance. This way, cloud computing has been transformative in the logistics industry. A Business Journals feature on logistics-related technologies notes that "cloud computing applications have the potential to provide vast efficiency and flexibility options for the logistics industry," and Flexport is one of the leaders. Having recently expanded from its home base in San Francisco, California all the way to Amsterdam, Flexport "uses smart processes to cut transaction costs, and satisfy consumer preference for crowd-sourced delivery." The delivery of packages can now be easily monitored by both the company and the client to ensure better transparency and service.
Logistics companies around the world are using MRM solutions to streamline their respective operations. In the UK, fleet companies are using MRMs to maximize mobile worker potential. Verizon Connect UK explains how MRMs can boost efficiency by almost 22% by connecting the head office to field workers. By doing this, it gives the drivers access to workflow applications, and facilitates a more connected work order management. These benefits underscore the importance of cloud computing technology in strengthening the link between companies and workers in the field.
The Cloud Moving Forward
Soon cloud technology will be indispensable across all industries. Workstate president of Cloud Technology Services Dennis Allio envisions a future where the cloud will be as ubiquitous as its namesake, primarily due to constant innovation, including artificial intelligence, making this service "easily consumable and highly available." AeroComInc. founder Mike Smith is just as positive for the cloud's potential, predicting a future where even small businesses will rely on the cloud, "to more easily manage the deployment and security of computers and applications, across all devices and locations." In line with these predictions, it is clear that more and more industries will make big leaps forward through adopting cloud technology in the coming years. So what are you waiting for?
Written by: Claire Woods.
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