Manufacturers are always looking for ways to produce their goods faster, better, and more cost-effectively. So, it’s no surprise that many look to cloud computing as a way to achieve these goals. Certainly, cloud-based software offers many advantages, but for forward-looking manufacturers, the cloud supports changes that go beyond simply cutting costs. The cloud can help people and organizations fundamentally change the way they work.
Cloud computing enables and facilitates four key functions essential to success in today’s business environment:
Even at massive multinational companies, systems and processes still come down to the human element. A surprisingly small number of people are responsible for actually making things happen, for enabling major initiatives and keeping them going.
If you’re one of this small group of enablers, the simplicity of a cloud-based quality system gives you the ability to affect all the work and the people involved in it from one place. Software as a Service (SaaS) is user-friendly, so your operators and quality professionals don’t spend all their time working with software but can instead concentrate on their jobs.
Mobility is the lynchpin of cloud computing. The ability to work on any device from any location—whether it’s the shop floor or a plant halfway across the world—without having to get on a plane or connect to a remote database through a virtual private network is powerful. Without the kind of mobility cloud-based systems provide, it’s incredibly difficult for a manufacturer to be truly world class.
For a business to stand apart, its people need free, unfettered access to data and systems. This access goes beyond storing data in one place. People must be able to see the data that matters to them, in a centralized interface that presents information in an intuitive way. When users can see information based on their specific roles, then processing occurs more quickly and users can quickly take the actions they need to.
In contrast, without a central, consolidated view into a plant’s or organization’s data, searching for information is time-consuming. If people spend all their time hunting for information, they have no time to solve issues and drive improvement, and the business will progress much more slowly.
To complicate matters further, many manufacturers store data in silos, and their processes also run in silos. The cloud provides consolidation of views and analytics—it becomes the de facto repository for all aspects of all processes, even if that repository is only the recipient, rather than the source of, the company’s data assets. With the standardization SaaS offers, tasks like audits that used to take a day now take an hour, saving the organization time and money.
So, how does a manufacturer move its people beyond the mindset, “This is how we’ve always done it, so why change?” Standardization is fundamental to driving this shift in thinking, and the cloud’s greatest power may be that it facilitates standardization.
When data is disconnected and stored in many different locations, it’s difficult to drive improvement initiatives forward. But when data is centralized, it quickly becomes apparent where variances in processes, procedures, and outcomes exist between production lines, plants, divisions, and locations.
With data centralized in a SaaS solution, more people can collaborate on process and product in real time, leading to standardization of processes and the development of best practices. Through collaboration, more people (and the plants they work in) can benefit from these best practices, and those benefits quickly become clear.
Free, unfettered access and a system simple enough that people will want to use it. That’s the power of simplicity, mobility, access, and alignment in the cloud.
We invite you to visit our website to learn more about our cloud-native Quality Intelligence solution, Enact—now available free for 3 months to new subscribers.