Cloud migration has increased enormously as manufacturing companies gain and maintain a competitive edge. A fundamental paradigm shift in planning and orchestrating business models is required. Manufacturing companies need to ensure that management and IT teams work together to build a product and cloud service portfolio that complement each other and are aligned for operational excellence.
Although manufacturing companies produce tons of data, the irony is that there isn’t enough information. Manufacturers find transformation difficult since equipment lasts for decades, and replacements are costly. They tend to have siloed data that sits in a data lake before being used appropriately. When interconnected, they struggle to deal with unstructured data and the process required to scale that solution across the enterprise. Many manufacturing companies are now addressing this issue with an edge platform.
Jabil1, the manufacturing solutions provider, quickly addressed the data problem. Its plant floor quality assurance solution organizes data to analyze issues in real-time and offers a high prediction accuracy rate. With an ability to identify errors even before they occur, Jabil sees substantial productivity improvements.
While young companies may find it easier to hop onto the Cloud, large enterprises often find themselves struggling under the weight of legacy IT systems that are somewhat rigid and may require more extended transition periods.
We aim to uncover ways to circumvent these issues to ensure quick transitions and faster cloud success.
The state of cloud migration in manufacturing
As per a recent survey, the number of companies using cloud technologies as part of their digital transformation endeavors has increased from 51% in 2019 to 62% in 20212. During this time, edge computing deployments grew from 43% in 2019 to 55% in 2021, while fog computing, known for its capabilities to create a small, cloud-like computing infrastructure, rose from 20% in 2019 to 25% in 2021.
The jump is not surprising because manufacturing processes require real-time control and response rate to operate and support efficiently while checking on downtimes. Cloud helps in remote monitoring, collaboration, and building a data-driven culture.
A classic case in point is UNOX3. Its pursuit of creating ‘intelligent’ ovens took the cloud route to develop new cutting-edge projects for data-driven cooking.
UNOX has revolutionized its customer service via an omnichannel cloud contact center that enables it to meet 95% of service-level customer requests efficiently compared to just 67% before cloud adoption. A managed live streaming service to create interactive video experiences and a content delivery network service to deliver content and applications with low latency and high transfer speed has helped it improve agility, scalability, and savings.
In the wake of the pandemic, remote monitoring compelled manufacturing companies to migrate to the Cloud. It allows them to create key performance indicators and enables plant floor managers to closely watch asset utilization and OEE (Overall Equipment Effectiveness).
Automation technology supplier Emerson for instance, witnessed a surge in the use of sensors combined with edge gateways when manual on-site inspection became difficult. Explains Peter Zornio, chief technology officer at Emerson, “Previously, people were looking into automating some manual inspection with sensors and edge gateways but held back because they thought it was too expensive. But suddenly, without enough people on site to do inspections, the technology presented them with a way to move forward.”
While everyone is sold on the idea of migrating to the Cloud for its apparent benefits like flexibility, agility, enhanced privacy, security, and greater operational efficiency, the struggle to migrate successfully to the Cloud is real and overwhelming for many. In manufacturing setups, systems are usually interconnected with the plant equipment, leading to roadblocks on the way to cloud adoption.
However, there are ways and means to avoid them.
Create a robust cloud migration strategy
The right cloud migration strategy based on a thorough assessment of your needs and resources can be a good starting point.
Core Technology Molding Corporation, known for its highly engineered plastic products and tooling designs, has been able to keep operations running smoothly with a cloud-based ERP system. It allowed the company to address its need for monitoring processes in real-time when employees were forced to work from home.
The one that’s most appropriate for you should be found on the following considerations:
- What are your business goals? What problems are you trying to resolve?
- In which stages of production are downtimes most damaging for business?
- What are your security, regulatory & data privacy requirements?
- How equipped are you to tackle disasters to ensure business continuity?
- Are skills & experience internally available to undertake a cloud migration project?
Your cloud migration exercise has to be driven by a purpose. You need to identify the pain points to understand what could work for your business.
Assess your cloud readiness
Cloud readiness is not just limited to tools and platforms but includes people and processes too. The digital literacy of your employees is crucial for successful cloud adoption. Cloud providers offer advanced tools, testing, and interface options to enable agile development in a typical manufacturing IT environment where the cost of experimentation and failure is extremely high. With hundreds of applications spread across multiple physical data centers in diverse geographical locations, fragmented IT poses a considerable problem.
Cloud can enable standardization of infrastructure and platform to recover quickly from outages. Suntory Group, a Japanese multinational brewing, and distilling conglomerate, adopted AWS cloud to standardize their infrastructure and systems. The decision was part of its global expansion plan to accelerate processes following a merger or acquisition and reduce operational burden. The Group reduced infrastructure TCO (Total Cost of Ownership) in the Japan region by 25% soon after cloud adoption.
Manufacturers need data to forecast demand, expedite orders, check the quality, and predict equipment failures in real-time. They need to break data silos and make informed decisions to increase production capacity and improve the supply chain. They need a 360-degree view of the data to get deeper insights. Going beyond the mere ‘life and shift and wait’ approach is essential to gain greater sovereignty over your data.
Siemens, the manufacturing giant, has been leveraging Google Cloud’s data cloud and AI/ML capabilities to implement artificial intelligence at scale. By harmonizing the factory data, employees working on the plant floor can visually inspect products and predict the wear and tear of machines on the assembly line.
Collaborate with the right technology partner
Applications and Data cannot be moved overnight and will cause security concerns if you overlook the migration time that would be required. It’s therefore essential to have a meticulously crafted roadmap based on priorities, business goals, timelines, resources, and budget.
While everyone understands the importance of cloud adoption, a whopping 74% fail to capture its total value, according to McKinsey’s recent Cloud in Discrete Manufacturing Industries survey4. 50% of respondents have found cloud technology more complex than they had perceived it, while 40% admitted to exceeding their cloud budgets.
Choosing a migration partner based on familiarity or low pricing can lead to migration failures that can be too expensive to rectify. While iterating ways to budget cloud migrations, Gartner5 points out that 60% of infrastructure and operations (I&O) leaders will experience public cloud cost overruns through 2024, putting a big dent in their on-premises budgets.
The role of a technology partner is highly critical here.
The right technology partner will evaluate the complete ecosystem, review the interdependencies across siloed applications, and prioritize the workloads to be migrated. They will offer a comprehensive cloud strategy to enable successful cloud adoptions without impacting business users and service-level agreements. They will have the tools and resources to move multiple, complex applications.
They will help you adopt the Industry 4.0 framework with appropriate automation tools and cloud-based data analytics. With real-time visibility into the manufacturing ecosystem, they can empower you to build more innovative products and create value for your customers and business partners.
Ensure migration success with Trigent
Allow us to help you migrate smoothly to the Cloud and manage your manufacturing workloads with ease. Our technology experts can help you with cloud-native applications and advanced data analytics solutions to achieve agility at scale.
Our cloud strategy has been helping our clients get maximum business value. We can help you too.