Tuesday, February 25, 2014
Cloud manufacturing to disrupt global supply chain networks
We’ve learned just how complex supply chain networks can be, and how important communication between different links in the chain can be. As we continue into an increasingly more global era, these networks are growing exponentially more complex, and expectations from consumers are growing accordingly regarding speed, accuracy, and flexibility. To cope, manufacturers have begun to take advantages of cloud-based SaaS infrastructures that bring together multiple topics of supply chain management under a single umbrella. From demand forecasting to vendor managed inventories, to automated customer service, these cloud-based systems can be deployed extremely quickly as is discussed in the following article from Forbes magazine: http://www.forbes.com/sites/louiscolumbus/2013/05/06/ten-ways-cloud-computing-is-revolutionizing-manufacturing/
Personally, one of the most interesting and most powerful parts of cloud manufacturing comes from efficiencies in decentralized and networked production. Still early in adoption, flexible and vast networks of specialized manufacturers are being created that can be utilized by partners that are connected via the same or communicating cloud manufacturing platforms. These networks are comprised of manufacturers that specialize in certain tasks, such as threading or stamping or molding. When a demand for a certain part increases, the system can scan this network to identify in real-time which manufacturing facilities will be able to take on new orders, and share the entire manufacturing process of the goods between the network of specialized manufacturers, and then find the most efficient route through the network to have the products made as quickly as possible. By sharing the burden across a large network, and specializing their manufacturing, partners can take advantage of economies of scale to make their process extremely efficient, because variances in the process are removed, and all logistics are handled through the same automated cloud platform. Not only that, but the specialization yields extremely high accuracy. Fewer logistical errors, higher throughput, and higher accuracy…it’s no wonder cloud-based manufacturing and distribution software is set to grow 45% within the next 10 years.