It has become clear that over the next 10 years, Cloud Manufacturing will play a significant role. So, what is the reality of Cloud Manufacturing and what exactly will it mean for UK Manufacturers?
Thanks to existing technology and ERP solutions many companies have already created successful ‘lean’ production environments. However, this doesn’t work particularly well when a company offers added value services that enhance their products away from the ‘standard’. While it is great to offer clients a tailored product, it is more difficult to manage this once it moves into the realms of ‘Engineer to Order’ or ‘Design to Order’.
Traditional supply chains have some flexibility to support lean principles but are not dynamic enough to deal with ‘Engineer to Order’, or the internal and external processes that support it. Take for example a client that wants a whole redesign of a piece of large capital equipment. This will need engineering design, 3D modeling, manufacturing process design, and likely involvement with new or existing suppliers and subcontractors. In short, all these elements can introduce a significant delay while the correct solution is agreed, and suppliers/parts are sourced.
Cloud Manufacturing offers a solution to this. It is essentially a service-oriented business model to share manufacturing capabilities and resources on a cloud platform. These platforms allow capabilities and resources from a wide range of manufacturers to be held in one place. So, Cloud Manufacturing makes technology cheaper and gets it to market quicker, by opening and automating the supply chain, spreading the load, and reducing lead times.
Manufacturing prices are heavily influenced by demand and available capacity. These platforms also employ artificial intelligence (AI) to assign the best fulfillment possible at the best price which leads to higher efficiency and lower pricing.
Of course, for this to work companies need to use ERP solutions that can meet the needs of an on-demand service-orientated model. At Ochiba we are adapting our Manufacturing Solution for SAP Business One to work in a cloud/service orientated manner, in order to meet these requirements.
We are breaking out the individual components of our SAP Business One Manufacturing add-on so that our clients can easily pick and choose the individual elements (e.g. Shop Floor Data Collection, Production Planning etc) that they wish to trial or use. Once the process is complete all the apps and data will then be available to be shared with Cloud Manufacturing platforms, which opens up a new world of possibilities.
This new development moves companies away from traditional workflows of dealing with one company at a time where information is serial, private and not shared. The new integrated manufacturing platform means that the requirements, plans and work progress can be instantly shared with all interested parties in the supply chain. Cloud Manufacturing joins every supply and demand node available. Plus it considers the available production processes and capacities to make the best possible decisions, shortening lead times and reducing costs. Platforms like Fractory at www.fractory.com offer a wide range of services and once integrated into the ERP Cloud will become a key part of Cloud Manufacturing. It will mean engineers can get immediate feedback on feasibility and cost even before making prototypes.
Of course, this can also make it cheaper for new manufacturing SMEs to enter the scene as there’ll be no need for the large start-up costs traditionally related to manufacturing. After all, in this scenario, a manufacturer that owns no machines is only the same as Uber not owning any vehicles. They are by definition, lean.
At Ochiba Business Solutions our aim is to help our clients prepare and have the correct
solutions for the future. We know that moving our ERP Manufacturing offering to a service-
oriented cloud model allows the best possible growth opportunities for our clients, which is
why it has our full attention.