Public cloud in manufacturing - adoption, use cases, and trends

The adoption and usage of public cloud in manufacturing differs by country and also sub-industry. This is because, for example, the adoption rate of public cloud is higher in the UK than the European average and the oil and gas industry has different requirements towards compliance regulations than the automotive industry or a CPG manufacturer, for instance. However, generally speaking, manufacturing is among the maturest industries with regards to cloud usage (not only in the field of public cloud but also, and in particular, private cloud), which also results from its role as a forerunner in traditional outsourcing.

The advantages of public cloud computing are well known (flexibility, scalability, and pay-per-use, to name but a few), and we believe that these benefits will drive adoption accordingly. However, take-up is still hampered by concerns among manufacturers related to security, IP theft, and espionage as well as a lack of skills related to implementing or managing cloud services.

Despite this, given the overall increasing adoption of public cloud and manufacturers’ desire to continue running their core applications such as ERP systems or engineering applications in a private cloud, hybrid (combination of private and public) cloud models will presumably be one of the most popular options as it will most likely make no sense for a manufacturer to move everything to the cloud or to keep everything private and on-premises.

When deciding whether or not to use cloud computing, and if so, which type of cloud deployment model, manufacturers should base their decision on their individual requirements such as types of workload or use cases that should be enabled. Besides those related to back-office functions, there are also numerous use cases in manufacturing-specific value chains such as product development, production, supply chain, and sales and marketing, where cloud computing concepts can yield significant benefits, such as speeding up time to market for product innovations, reducing production cycle times, shortening delivery times, or optimizing marketing campaigns.

Cloud computing in manufacturing will definitely gain traction, but there will be scenarios where cloud computing is reaching its limits. This is true, for example, in production environments where there are close to real-time requirements for data processing and where central processing of data is too slow due to latencies. Here, innovations such as edge computing will complement cloud concepts in manufacturing and play an increasing role.

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