By Conrad Leiva, MESA International Board Member and chair of MESA's Smart Manufacturing Working Group
Download the supplemental White Paper: Smart Manufacturing and Cloud Computing
Smart Manufacturing is not solely about optimizing production of goods, it is about creating positive value streams for everyone involved in the production process and creating valuable experiences and services for the end customer. Smart Manufacturing includes visibility and interoperability among systems, departments and partner companies, as well as a decentralized decision-making framework for the value chain. The endeavor encompasses suppliers and suppliers’ suppliers, as well as customers and customers’ customers.
Cloud Computing is one of the information technology (IT) stacks that are helping achieve the Smart Manufacturing goals. Organizations have access today to many combinations of technologies and software as-a-service whether they want to embrace a full or hybrid cloud infrastructure model. The availability of quality cloud component services that are easy to assemble into a custom application is even changing the shape of the IT department as it becomes easier for non-IT experts to assemble cloud services into custom apps. In many organizations, the IT department’s focus has shifted from developing, installing, and supporting software applications, to providing guidelines and a framework for assembling integrated enterprise applications.
The question should not be whether a manufacturing system will be on the cloud, but instead figuring out how much of the manufacturing system will be on the cloud to maximize the benefits to each organization and its customers.