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How the Cloud Fosters Smart, Connected Manufacturing

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Industry 4.0, Industries 4.0, or the fourth industrial revolution, is the automation and data exchange in manufacturing technologies, creating what many refer to as a "smart factory.” Although analysts claim that less than one percent of all production data is ever used, the promise of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) is the ability to analyze huge amounts of data to identify patterns like tool wear or equipment fatigue. This insight gives manufacturers the predictive capability that can improve quality, productivity, and downtime. The key here is connecting data throughout the enterprise to provide insights for improving business processes.

Connected manufacturing is the foundation and the cloud is the key requirement, connecting not only your plant floor, but also connecting the plant floor to the top floor. Many companies have let manufacturing execution systems (MES) run production and only use ERP to pump raw materials in and finished goods out—without any visibility into what happens on the plant floor. A cloud manufacturing ERP solution doesn’t stop there. You can run your entire manufacturing business via the cloud: plant floor production control intertwined with end-to-end inventory traceability, closed-loop quality connected with product lifecycle management, planning, finance, human resources, and supply chain management.

The real challenge in high-volume production is connecting your business to your value chain in a way that is scalable—both up and down the supply chain. Whether you’re managing compliance or just maintaining an accurate, up-to-date supplier scorecard, keeping your business connected to the relevant data about your supply chain can increase visibility and reduce risk. Through the use of customer and supplier portals, you can gain tremendous transparency and even facilitate more meaningful and productive collaboration with your suppliers.

Ultimately, you’ve got to run the business. The good news is that there are many ways to measure more “things” by connecting your business with the data about the business. Whether you use real-time dashboards showing KPIs against goals or lean on analytic engines to identify answers to problems you didn’t even know you had yet, connected manufacturing gives you a new set of tools to add to your lean journey.

Learn more. Download the IT Infrastructure Tips for Ensuring High-Performance Cloud Connectivity white paper.

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