AWS Smart Business Blog

Small and Medium Manufacturers: Are You Putting Your Data to Work?

Running a manufacturing business takes gut instinct coupled with experience to navigate changing markets. It is challenging to be resilient in the face of volatility and competitive pressure. But challenges bring opportunities, and today’s small and medium-sized manufacturer has a new tool to add to the toolbox—data. A lot of data. So how do you put that data to work?

Automated assembly lines, connected supply chains, CRM, and IoT digital monitoring are just a few of the sources of a literal flood of data that manufacturing companies now collect. In fact, collecting the data is often the easy part of the equation. The manufacturing industry adopted technology early to improve the efficiency of operations, particularly with Industry 4.0, and yet much of the benefit of that technology remains untapped as siloed data prevents an integrated view. Accessing, analyzing, and interpreting data in a timely fashion provides an opportunity for today’s manufacturer to fine tune and achieve new levels of efficiency and competitiveness.

This is usually where things get messy for small and medium businesses with limited IT resources. Management wants greater visibility to make more informed decisions, improve operations, reduce costs, anticipate market needs, and react quickly. It is typically challenging to make operational data “analytics-ready,” often requiring more time, resources, and technical knowledge than is available. With data in multiple formats and locations, costs quickly add up and expertise becomes a limiting factor, forcing businesses to fall back on spreadsheets and disconnected databases.

Cloud for manufacturing

This is one of the reasons cloud computing for manufacturing makes substantial impact. It offers a way to put data to work and take full advantage of the newest data and analytics innovations by providing:

  • Access to trapped data in the factory
  • Secure storage of that data where it can be easily accessed
  • Scalability and reduced costs

AWS provides a modern, cloud-based data architecture that allows you to connect data into a coherent and cohesive whole to reveal insights at each point of the supply chain. You can optimize for performance and cost, achieve unified data access, security and governance, and use the latest analytics technologies. Having useful data at your fingertips, whether working at the plant or remotely, is smart business.

Woman standing in large manufacturing plant near machinery

What about home grown applications?

Many manufacturing businesses have invested considerable time and intellectual capital to develop and hone proprietary applications. These mission critical applications require dedicated resources and tend to be costly to staff, scale and maintain, but the business can’t run without them. What benefits can cloud computing for manufacturing offer in this common scenario?

The cloud is flexible. It does not require a one-size fits all approach, and you do not need to abandon business-critical applications. Flexible options allow for a phased transition to cloud native technologies. For example:

  • Data warehouses in the cloud opportunistically consolidate data and provide a framework for basic analytics and reporting. Data warehouses are often purpose-built for a specific type of data and provide immediate performance, scale, and cost advantages over siloed data.
  • Data lakes in the cloud bring together data in various silos from internal and external sources and data in various formats (structured or unstructured) to further enhance the quality of the of information gathered and increase the relevance and repeatability of the analysis.
  • Integrated data platforms in the cloud consolidate and leverage all data sources to enable predictive analytics through artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) algorithms, fully capitalizing on all the business benefits of data-based decision making.

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Get affordable storage and better security with the cloud

With so much critical data, a logical question is how well is it protected? Businesses often over-provision storage and backup capacity to try and protect data. It is difficult to justify buying, testing, and managing more and more storage devices—which also generate extra power, real estate, and expertise costs—when those resources frequently go unused.

How, then, can you plan to accommodate future storage and security requirements economically? The cloud offers an affordable and reliable way to store and protect all types of data. With the cloud businesses have access to:

  • Highly scalable yet affordable capacity: Capacity scales quickly as you need it, and you only pay for what you use.
  • Data backup and failover features: Automated backup reduces business disruption if you experience a system failure, security incident, or other disaster.
  • High-performance networks: Near-immediate response times give you ready access to the data you use every day, even if data and users are in different locations, keeping workers productive.
  • Centralized policy-setting: The ability to define and enforce security, governance, and auditing policies for your data in one place improves your security posture and simplifies regulatory compliance.

Modernize. Unify. Innovate.

Turning your data into insights with cloud business intelligence can transform a manufacturing business and create real competitive advantages. AWS first pioneered cloud services for Amazon’s fulfillment centers to distribute billions of products using cutting edge industrial automation, machine learning, AI, and robotics―all with AWS at the core. Today AWS provides manufacturing companies with the most comprehensive and advanced set of cloud solutions available.

AWS can help you get access to the benefits of the cloud quickly, without disrupting your business, and then help you identify where and when to expand further based on your business’ specific needs. We help manufacturing organizations modernize, unify, and innovate:

  • Modernize your data infrastructure to be scalable and secure, including database provisioning, patching, configuration, and backups.
  • Unify to make decisions more quickly by putting your data to work with secure and well-governed access that will scale and grow as business needs change.
  • Innovate to create new experiences and reimagine old processes to generate entirely new revenue opportunities, make better and faster decisions, or improve operational efficiencies.

Investing in the future of your business

Cloud offers small and medium-sized manufacturers the opportunity to reconsider costly capital investments and instead move storage, computing, and networking to the leading cloud provider with ready-made or custom solutions. Learn more about cloud solutions for manufacturing.