Manufacturers are increasingly diversifying their operations to address supply chain challenges that have arisen in the post-pandemic business world. Shipping challenges are driving manufacturers to open regional centers, but they need to do so quickly and without large capital expenditures. Their technology infrastructure must be able to support becoming a multinational firm almost overnight. As a manufacturer, manufacturing operations or “OT” systems have become critical elements in this rapid expansion in becoming a foundation to better scale a global support system.
Choosing a cloud-based approach offers numerous advantages and can make what seems like an impossible task more manageable and affordable. Here are a few factors as you consider the best way to scale and move your operational platforms to the Cloud or a hybrid platform.
See this infographic showing the results from a recent survey iBase-t conducted on Cloud adoption, The Cloud is Not Just a Passing Phase.
Ability to Deploy Quickly
The coronavirus pandemic forced manufacturers to react faster than what has ever been done before. In a few months, the global economy went from full speed to lockdowns and supply chain shortages. Manufacturers are still faced with critical supply chain issues. Many are reacting by geographically diversifying operations. The ability to spin up a new plant quickly can mean the difference between satisfying customers or losing them.
An advantage of Cloud-based software is that typical deployment times drop from months to weeks. Speaking from what iBase-t customers have achieved when adopting our iSeries offerings, we have seen a remarkable compression of timeframes required to design and implement when our customers have chosen the Cloud as their implementation platform, part of a global support system.
The Cloud Aligns Well When Expanding Global Operations
Once you decide to expand globally and make the move to a Cloud-based Manufacturing Execution System (MES), Enterprise Quality Management System (EQMS), Supplier Quality Management (SQM), or Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) solution you must choose the right platform. MES and other application providers that self-host in a single location or use a service based in one geography can limit global aspirations. By choosing a solution that is deployable across a global service such as MS Azure or AWS you address many challenges, including:
- Data Privacy and Security – Different geographies have different laws regarding privacy and security that global providers have built into their offerings. By deploying your MES solution on an EU-hosted server, EU regulations are inherently adhered to.
- Responsiveness & Reliability – People use applications more if they are responsive and reliable. We all know the frustration of hitting the enter key and having to wait forever for the system to respond. If this happens frequently our natural reaction is to look for another way to get the information we want or to minimize our use of that particular application. The same is true on the shop floor. An MES that people don’t like will be an MES that fails to deliver its full value as staff use workarounds because of response issues. Having your MES hosted in a regional Cloud helps cut down on response time issues. It also provides redundancy in that a failure in one region can typically be recovered automatically by the Cloud servers in another region until the local servers are brought back online.
- Support – Even if your MES provider offers 24-hour support if the Cloud provider they utilize has a single location and the problem turns out to be an issue with the hosting platform, then the delays in coordinating with another provider half a world away could seriously complicate things. The best option is if both the application provider and the Cloud provider have regional support staff as both responsiveness and language issues are minimized.
Whether driven as a response to COVID-19 or just the natural growth of your business, more manufacturers are becoming global enterprises. I wrote an article about this very topic three years ago, which is one of the reasons we decided then to begin our move to the Cloud. Our iSeries solutions introduced a year ago have proven to be a powerful tool in helping our customers and partners better scale their global support system across operations. It can help your migration too – and do so cost-effectively with minimal internal resources.