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8 Min Read

Maintaining Profit Margins in Uncertain Times: A Case for Cloud Optimisation in Manufacturing

February 4, 2021 / Leon Sayers

Manufacturing has never been “smarter.” The advent of automation and the Internet of Things (IoT) has transformed the manufacturing processes, and cloud optimisation delivers on promises for improved operations, enhanced scalability, and increased return on investment (ROI.)

Manufacturers who combine integrated smart manufacturing processes with data intelligence capabilities to automate production cycles are seeing the largest return on their cloud and process automation investments. When you deploy these techniques in manufacturing facilities, you create smart factories capable of fast-paced production without the need for constant human intervention.

IoT adoption

In the 2019 PwC Internet of Things survey, 4 out of 5 industrial manufacturers reported that they had increased their operational efficiency thanks to use of IoT, and the same number had either already benefited from using IoT-based asset management or expected to do so by 2021.

Specifically, the following cloud-optimised IoT processes have been shown to accelerate smart manufacturing adoption, leading to increased profit margins:

Predictive maintenance

Predictive maintenance can reconfigure maintenance cycles to take advantage of parts that last longer than usual, and quickly alert to possible early obsolescence. This allows you to schedule maintenance based on data showing slowed performance rather than an arbitrary “service by” date. The same survey noted that IoT-enabled predictive maintenance prompted by cloud-powered analysis had already been deployed by 44% of respondents, and another 27% were poised for deployment.

  • Where’s the profit?
  • Predictive maintenance prevents unnecessary maintenance procedures and also alerts to the need for real-time planning in case of a pending breakdown. This leads to significant cost savings by trimming operational waste and heading off breakdowns that could result in expensive unanticipated downtime.

Supply chain monitoring

IoT solutions which track products from end-point to end-point deliver deep visibility into the supply chain, monitoring conditions and progress in real time. More than 80% of industrial manufacturers from the PwC survey said they had either already achieved supply chain benefits thanks to embracing cloud-driven IoT, or expected value to be measurable within two years.

  • Where’s the profit?
  • IoT deployment can reduce human error at checkpoints, minimise fraudulent activity, and optimise your delivery routes for faster, more accurate processing and logistics. This leads to reduced costs associated with internal and missing inventory, as well as increased revenues thanks to a satisfied customer base.

Safety and security

Cloud-connected safety and security solutions make it easier to monitor and control remote access to sensitive systems and information. Individual rooms outfitted with IoT sensors can monitor entry, access, temperature, humidity, and more through building operating management. Environmental controls can directly impact energy costs.

For remote workers, a zero-trust protocol is advised, with enforced two-factor authentication required for those outside physical business premises. Onsite, biometrics can authenticate physical swipe card ownership with facial recognition, putting an end to badge swapping and unauthorised access to your manufacturing facility.

  • Where’s the profit?
  • While cybersecurity is one of the top concerns facing manufacturers who invest in cloud-based solutions, 39% of manufacturers in the PwC survey said they have actually achieved higher levels of security with IoT, and an additional 44% expect to increase their security using IoT by 2021. This leads to measurable cost savings thanks to reduced on-site environmental or safety-related incidents, and revenues safeguarded by real-time notifications about unauthorised access.

Optimise your IoT data in the cloud for faster scaling

Using IoT in your manufacturing operations generates massive amounts of data. Cloud storage is the natural and most cost-effective solution for rapid scaling and revenue growth. Initial cloud optimisation can improve your IoT infrastructure, giving you greater flexibility and enhancing data monitoring. Maintaining continual optimisation can allow you to realise IoT-related revenue increases more quickly and maintain your cost effectiveness over time.

Real-time data monitoring during COVID and beyond

Connecting IoT to cloud based services has provided manufacturers with additional flexibility by connecting employees, networks, systems and sensors from all over the world. Your managers can maintain a birds-eye view of operational efficiency, diving down to granular level as needed to address localised issues. Your employees can monitor machinery while offsite, and smart factories can self-monitor and alert key personnel when needed for maintenance or troubleshooting.

Competitive production and logistics for improved customer experiences

Industrial IoT (ie IIoT) facilities powered by the cloud can resolve quality control issues directly on your factory floor, reducing waste and mitigation costs. This brings you closer to an on-demand production model as you link in your supply chain components, shortening delivery times and satisfying customers for increased sales revenues.

Take advantage of third-party expertise for faster results

Research from Deloitte has found that, among the manufacturing companies surveyed post-COVID, those with external-oriented approaches to smart manufacturing processes (like IoT and cloud computing) achieved more, faster than their competitors. Companies that had tapped into the expertise of an external partner were already “operational” across nearly a third of the use cases slated for implementation, nearly double those that depended on in-house development.

Although nearly 60% percent of manufacturers surveyed have cybersecurity concerns related to their smart manufacturing ecosystems, and companies using exclusively in-house development for smart manufacturing initiatives were almost half again as likely to point to lack of cybersecurity infrastructure as a major challenge to leveraging a network.

In Asia, 83% of manufacturers say top contributions to smart manufacturing processes came from external alliances and partners. The results are increased revenues even during times of supply chain disruption, and the opportunity to step in and fill gaps left by companies unwilling or unable to adapt in the face of sudden and drastic change.

Partnering with Unisys can allow you to quickly scale your cloud adoption for improved data analytics and IoT deployment, while providing your manufacturing operations with the security required in a technologically connected landscape.

Explore our manufacturing industry resources to learn more.