Cloud technology is a key enabler for Industry 4.0. Today’s smart factories rely on cloud technology to deliver agility, flexibility and security, and tomorrow’s innovations will be fuelled by the data that the right cloud infrastructures can gather. But how realistic is this for your business?

Today’s revolution in manufacturing automation and data exchange, commonly known as Industry 4.0, is being powered by the latest advances in cloud technology. The Manufacturer recently published their Annual Manufacturing Report 2019, in which they stated that 81% of manufacturers say they are ready to invest in new digital technologies to boost productivity.

Industry 4.0 is opening up new possibilities for productivity and efficiency, and this is being recognised by forward thinking manufacturing businesses of all sizes. According to PwC, today’s Digital Champions (companies that have taken digitisation to the highest degree) recognise the huge potential for cloud to improve agility and responsiveness, accelerate product development and innovation, and enhance security and resilience.

Integrated compute services and cloud platforms will unlock the potential of disruptive technologies, such as robotics and artificial intelligence. It will also support workloads from the increasingly diverse ecosystem of devices that Industry 4.0 brings.

Is Cloud Really Right for You?

Despite the huge appetite amongst manufacturers to adopt new digital technologies, there remains a hesitancy around cloud adoption and a lack of clear strategic direction. The Annual Manufacturing Report 2019 found that one in four respondents currently have no digital plans, whilst 26% have it on the radar but are unsure how to implement it. Report sponsors PwC observe that “the main blockers appear to be a lack of coherent digital strategies and the inability for organisations to understand what practical applications some of these technologies offer within their organisation.”

Manufacturing businesses often express a distrust of the hyperscale public cloud providers, with security, reliability and autonomy chief amongst their concerns.

So let’s take a step back. How realistic is Industry 4.0 for you and your manufacturing business? We’ve already thrown out a lot of buzzwords here; how can we make this tangible? If you’re just starting out on your cloud journey and all of this seems a long way off, you should still be considering your digital transformation strategy.

In this blog, we will discuss five ways in which an effective cloud strategy can help your manufacturing business take the first step on its digital transformation journey.

How Smart Factories are Enabled by Cloud Strategy

In order for manufacturing businesses to begin the transformation away from traditional factories and towards smart factories, they need to develop effective cloud strategies. Even if you retain the majority of your IT systems onsite, there are a number of compelling reasons to consider revisiting your cloud strategy:

  • Make gradual changes over time. An effective cloud strategy will provide the agility to make gradual changes over time, transitioning to hosted systems as and when budgets and risk appetites align with drivers for change. You don’t need to take a ‘Big Bang’ approach to begin to reap the benefits of cloud technology.
  • Minimise risk exposure. An effective cloud strategy will enable you to manage the breadth of your infrastructure operations through a single interface. This will minimise your business’s risk exposure by delivering full end-to-end visibility that makes it easier to detect and mitigate security threats.
  • Easily and quickly scale resources. Cloud technology enables you to scale your data processing capacity as you adopt technologies such as IoT, AI and robotics that create large volumes of data. This improves your business agility and allows you to respond quickly to changing circumstances.
  • Deliver process efficiencies. By leveraging cloud technology to consolidate servers and integrate systems, you can deliver process efficiencies across your manufacturing business that would be more difficult to achieve through traditional onsite infrastructure deployments.
  • Leverage the latest digital technologies. The latest digital technologies open up a whole new realm of possibilities for how businesses process, retain and analyse data. These technologies often require storage and processing capabilities beyond that which legacy platforms can deliver. An effective cloud strategy will enable you to leverage transformative technology to ultimately increase revenues.

Take the First Steps on Your Digital Transformation Journey

If you’re unclear on how to move forward with planning your cloud strategy and taking the first steps on your digital transformation journey, you should consider engaging with an experienced technology partner. Six Degrees can help you to identify the right cloud strategy for your manufacturing business and support you in migrating workloads to the cloud whilst keeping your business up and running.

To learn more about our work with manufacturing businesses, get in touch with us. We’ve also produced a report around minimising IT risk and attitudes towards cloud adoption in manufacturing. You can download it here.