When electricity was first popularized, factories began upgrading steam engine machines with electrical engines. Expectations were high, but most of these factories did not initially see rises in productivity levels. This phenomenon is known as the productivity paradox.
It took about 20 to 25 years for plant managers to realize that they also needed to reorganize the factory layout and reconsider how employees interface with machines. Once the entire assembly line was restructured, there were marked increases in productivity.
A similar productivity paradox can be applied to today's manufacturing industry. While cloud integration and IT services play an important role in automation, they are still fairly new to the industry, and they must be applied in a way that will capitalize internal intelligence to make every interaction count. Here are three areas where manufacturers can leverage cloud-based integration in automation to streamline processes.
1. Business Intelligence
Using the cloud and other IT services, a company can consolidate the collection of data for long-term data analysis, which is particularly useful for multi-location companies. These services and software allow manufacturers to replicate, secure, and quantify diversified data sets from various machines. Preventative and predictive maintenance, asset analysis, and energy management are all examples of data sets business intelligence analysts utilize. With this information, a company can gain both macro and micro insights into their processes, revealing weaknesses and possible solutions to improve productivity.
2. Reduced Time to Market
Cloud-based integration and IT services create connections between departments, making it easier and faster to collaborate in every stage of the design cycle. New models and design features can quickly adjust over time. Early adjustments result in faster product development times and fewer wasted materials.
3. Production Flow Optimization
Cloud-based integration and IT services link independent workstations together for a fully connected enterprise. By seamlessly integrating workflow with automation systems, a manufacturing environment is capable of quickly adapting to different workflows and workloads. A connected manufacturing floor saves time and materials because supplies are intelligently provisioned on demand.
Cloud-based systems and enhanced IT networks are modern tools that can streamline production and boost productivity, but companies must also consider security. Most cloud providers have stronger security and encryption standards than in-house IT departments, but each company needs to determine their standards and find a provider that will support their goals. With the right network provider and system, a manufacturer can use IT tools effectively, breaking the productivity paradox and increasing productivity to all-time historical levels through automation.