According to usage, cloud technologies can be majorly categorised into three segments – cloud storage, cloud computing, and cloud services. These three technologies are making the world of manufacturing simpler day by day in a full circle.
Cloud storage is providing solutions to product data storage and management with cloud-based PDM and PLM. Cloud computing is ending the need of having a big IT infrastructure or waiting for days to generate complex data or getting a complex problem solved. Cloud services allow you to use technologies when required without investing upfront turning your CAPEX into an OPEX.
Application benefits of cloud technologies
The need for the development and application of these cloud technologies has been brought by the change in market demand of increased complexity in the products and shorter go-to-market time. Some of the top benefits that manufacturers get by the implementation of cloud technologies can be described as follows:
Collaborative working - Single source of data: With the need for different expertise in product development and manufacturing, bringing all of them together in a single workplace is difficult. But it is also important for all the stakeholders to have real-time data when they are working together from different workplaces. For this, a cloud-based CAD/CAM/CAE solution can help the users to pull/push in data from a single source cloud from any part of the world adding the expertise of their respective domain.
Cross-functional capabilities: Cloud allows the user industry to bring in cross-functional advanced capabilities across all the related technologies. If a design engineer quickly checks with the manufacturing analysis tool to understand if the design is manufacturable or not, this can make his design more efficient, or a manufacturing engineer might need to get the details of the design to check for the manufacturing process optimisation.
Reduced IT infrastructure: As the complexity of the design increases, the task of handling data at the back end becomes more challenging. Also, the data needs to be in a form where every stakeholder can access it, according to the need mentioned in point one. Developing such a solution on-premise will be a challenging task. With the increasing cost of semiconductor products, it can be a costly affair. To achieve this, a cloud-based PDM and PLM can provide an easy solution.
Flexibility: It is important to add scalability and flexibility to the complete model, according to the requirements of the user. The cloud infrastructures in all three categories are developed in such a way that they are flexible to add or remove functionalities with a click. Brining the investment of the manufacturing industry from the CAPEX model to the OPEX model makes it more cost-effective.
Analytics: With cloud connectivity, recording, and measuring, monitoring data becomes a quick and easy task. With all the platforms connected to a single source of data, doing analytics of the state of the data can simply lead us to the real-time scenario of the product development.
Addressing security risks
Seeing all the benefits of implementing cloud technologies, one should not forget to investigate the dark side of it. It should be noted that while adopting cloud technologies, manufacturers need to take care of security concerns and steadiness of the cloud data. Cloud data always has a risk of data breaches. There have been many laws developed by governments across the world to make cloud data safer and accelerate the use of it.
Multi-national corporations follow the standards and laws in their development process keeping users’ data safe and secure. Adopting technologies from such mature companies shall bring these concerns nearly to zero.
Adopting cloud technologies
In India, cloud technology is at a very initial stage and is pacing up nicely. This makes it the best time to adopt cloud technology for Indian manufacturing industries. MSMEs are the biggest benefiters from cloud technology as they will be able to implement higher functionality tools that were only possible for OEMs to have. This will help them to shorten lead times in product development, increase efficiency and monitor real-time data around the company. With these benefits in hand, they can concentrate on innovating their product, manufacturing methodologies and grow bigger.
The reason behind cloud technologies being in the initial stage in India is because of two reasons - internet infrastructure and skilled personnel. The most important requirement for cloud infrastructure is good internet speed. It can range from a few megabytes per second to a few hundred megabytes per second depending on the size & quality of data handled. The average broadband speed still lies below 100 Mbps, which lies in the medium segment. However, this dependency is region-based and differs from company to company.
Another major factor for adaptation is that the knowledge of the employees are just the basic IT tools. Implementing a cloud structure needs an all-hands on deck from the manager to foreman to individual contributors for using cloud tools. This is an easier problem that can be resolved with basic level training.
The exports of India rose by 16.78% in June 2022. The Indian government is facilitating manufacturers with new markets, like defence and toy industries to capture. To reach to heights of these manufacturing sectors, one needs to implement technologies that help them maximise efficiency and lowers costs. The answer lies in cloud technologies.