Global manufacturers face unique challenges as they adapt to future needs: rampant cyber-attacks, natural disasters, supply chain reconfigurations, and geo-political upheavals, as well as regulatory changes and pandemic aftershocks, says provider of file data services, Nasuni.
These trends are compounded by the need to accelerate innovation levels or risk their profitability being eroded year by year, while digital transformation is essential to improving customer response and embedding greater resilience throughout manufacturing organisations and their supply chains.
How can modernisation be achieved in challenging global conditions, while digital transformation already itself raises very specific challenges?
Modernising manufacturing is a multi-faceted task. For global operations, not the least requirement is redefining data management and storage capabilities to allow simpler synchronisation of large files across plants, increase faster transfer of high file volumes, and streamline workflows, to establish more innovative processes. Cloud storage – accessed via global providers’ platforms (Microsoft Azure, AWS, and Google) – enables manufacturers to reshape their legacy infrastructures and simplify innovation that is based on nimble, data-driven decision-making and smoother processes.
With these game-changing foundations, manufacturers can take full advantage of different capabilities – business continuity, enhanced cybersecurity, improved collaboration, data accessible on demand, and measurable savings – each of which helps deliver the manufacturing plant of tomorrow.
One of the crucial capabilities needed for the sector to achieve the manufacturing plant of tomorrow is integrating multiple digital technologies – including the Cloud, IoT, and AI – to improve factory processes and cost effectiveness. Cloud storage platforms enable data accessibility and integrations across multiple file systems and platforms.
Business continuity also turns today’s challenges into tomorrow’s opportunities because cloud storage safely stores manufacturers’ data and makes it accessible from anywhere. As a result, manufacturers can achieve greater operational efficiencies and pivot to new markets in tough trading conditions. Reliable cloud platforms bring about easier multi-site management, scalability, and ‘always-on’ business continuity.
Cyber security is crucial given the global scale of manufacturers’ data and file sharing across globally-distributed manufacturing and supply chains. Security must provision for growing risks, such as ransomware attacks, while reducing time needed for assessing and recovering from cyber-attacks and outages.
By adopting these different innovations, manufacturers can capture their ever-shifting value pools more effectively – and build the foundations for genuine digital transformation and progression towards Factory 4.0 operations.
Cloud storage platforms ensure centralised file data systems that nevertheless enable complex collaboration and project management involving specialist teams working across multiple locations. Users will continue to streamline project collaborations and boost productivity using platforms such as Microsoft Teams, Microsoft Office 365, and Slack because they bring about improved design efficiency, greater innovation, and lower costs.
Cloud platforms’ synchronised storage also delivers data anywhere based on simpler analytics processes and delivering measurable cost savings. And, as manufacturers progress their planned technology integrations, they can consolidate and move data worldwide – at a fraction of the cost of an on-premises solution.
Tomorrow’s manufacturing plant
There is no doubt that manufacturers must innovate rapidly to boost competitiveness while preparing for greater uncertainty and risks. Integrating cloud operations means that companies can best combine specialised skills and resources to drive their businesses forward. While resilience and agility are powerful market drivers, rethinking IT infrastructures is the lynchpin of modernisation – with cloud storage systems enabling files to be shared, accessed, and collaborated on with ease in federated organisations with centralised but nimbler policymaking.
Case Study: Redefining Manufacturing Potential
A manufacturer, with over 40 locations worldwide and data-hungry CAD and Adobe InDesign applications, implemented a cloud storage and data management solution to ensure that data retained its quality with access on demand. This shift demanded an accessible and seamless file service architecture that integrated with the company’s legacy infrastructures and transfer vast quantities of file data at speed.
While previously, machinery had read and shared product data and imagery to run production lines, the sheer volume of files located across multiple premises undermined productivity. The cloud platform automatically synchronises files across multiple locations and obviates manual syncing of different sites. As product images are captured to support quality control, they are uploaded to a folder share, scraped, and archived, reducing required storage space and cost.
With data residing in the cloud, information sharing is quicker and more convenient, data management and storage capabilities have been transformed, managers have visibility of separate file systems and facilities, and IT is optimising storage resources and spend.
Written by Markus Warg, Field Technical Director EMEA, at Nasuni, a provider of file data services.