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Should I move manufacturing processes to cloud-based systems?

Deciding whether to move your manufacturing operations to the cloud means considering a host of factors. Here's a look at some of them.

Although cloud-based systems offer a host of potential operating efficiencies to the manufacturing sector, many manufacturing companies are reluctant to move operations entirely to the cloud. This is due to the nature of industry, and shielding proprietary IP and secret business processes. Even a hybrid arrangement can seem unattractive since many organizations lack the capacity to create a hybrid infrastructure and have difficulty understanding which operations can be cloud driven and managed. Integration, security, data ownership and separation then become other IT issues that must be managed.

Manufacturing software has drastically changed over the last few years, and many manufacturers are not aware of what is currently available and what various cloud-based systems offer -- this is what is causing much of the confusion. Forward-thinking leaders need to start their research on what can be gained from cloud-based systems. Yet they must also decide which processes can be ported to the cloud and how those will be reintegrated back into the local, on-premises system. They must also assess whether they can seamlessly provide support and fluidity for compound processes.

In the end, each manufacturing company must take their individual situation into account to make a decision on whether they want to move their processes to the cloud or not. Issues such as risk of IP theft, data security and separation, cost, integrations to other systems, possible communication breakdowns, and business disruptions are all factors that organizations must consider when deciding whether to move manufacturing operations to the cloud. If they do decide to move operations to the cloud, there is an extensive process to incur in terms of what to move, what system to select and whether to keep some processes on premises. 

Many new systems that offer cloud solutions are capable of providing complete manufacturing capabilities that encompass the entire manufacturing process while other products are offered as cloud, but only address one portion of the manufacturing process. The overall process must be considered when moving to the cloud and where it may fit within the scope of your manufacturing operations and capabilities. Organizations must also examine costs to do so, especially if it is just a process that will be integrated back into the existing systems. 

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