How cloud computing can revolutionize manufacturing

LS Subramanian| Informationweek

Manufacturing in an earlier era led to management thinking and also automation of processes, courtesy the efforts of great management gurus like Alfred Sloan, Frederick Winslow Taylor, Michael Porter, Tom Peters, and Michael Hammer and C.K. Prahalad.

For the preceding decades, the financial markets sucked the best and the brightest minds to drive greed and make profits in investment banking and financial markets. This era fortunately is slowing down and the regulators and economists of the world have realized the futility of driving financial markets without underlying security provided by manufacturing.

Engineers who were trained and equipped for manufacturing, migrated to a coveted MBA degree lured by the offer of huge starting salaries coupled with even bigger annual bonus. They drove an invisible economy driven by paper bonds and other instruments and created more complex instruments all based on an economy, which was created by hedging financial bets on a weak underlying asset value.

Manufacturing did not grow or innovate because the best were not available, manufacturing was considered a poor paymaster and the brightest who wanted to make money and fame stayed away.

As the world spins into recession every country realizes that it needs to get back its manufacturing back in action, every government is struggling to get the right resources to put back the derailed manufacturing sector back on track.

It was manufacturing which created the big middle class in most developed countries in the world, those who spent their money on weekends, paid mortgages on their cars, houses and holidays and kept the wheels of the service economy ticking.

Cloud computing could help manufacturing firms adopt the latest technology innovations to improve their processes, supply chain management, CAD/CAM/PLM solutions,  research & development, collaboration, plant operations, diagnostics, back office functions like ERP and front office CRM.

Cloud computing can offer the latest technology, with deep functionality and flexibility at lower capital and operating cost than the traditional invest, build, operate computing route adopted in manufacturing. It offers the manufacturing sector scalability, reliability, a secure environment, an on-demand computing power, faster upgrades and the latest technology.

Cloud computing enables manufacturing collaboration among mobile and remote workers, vendors and other constituents in their supply chain solutions through fast, easy and secure access to data when needed to optimize operations and make data-driven decisions.

In the next decade, we will see new material, new designs and new cross-country collaboration in cutting-edge manufacturing technology all created by cloud computing as a vehicle for computing and synergy.  We will see the best minds in the various universities of our world use the cloud for collaboration and co-option to create a healthier and stronger world for our future global citizens.

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