Following the impact of the pandemic, concepts such as resilience, business agility, crisis management, costs and cash flow and innovation have become increasingly critical for business, changing the reality of manufacturers, companies and consumers.
Author: Carlos García Villate, R&D Director at Lantek
The need for speed, flexibility and adaptability have been amplified at an astonishing rate, accelerating the digital transformation that, according to a study by IBM, will be a priority for 62% of executives in the next two years.
The document also reveals that, for 59% of the organizations surveyed, Covid-19 has accelerated process automation and that 66% have taken initiatives that they previously resisted. This cultural change masks another reality: the need to reduce costs. Something that inexorably goes hand in hand with digitization through the Cloud ecosystem, where the enablers of Industry 4.0 (Artificial Intelligence, Big Data, Internet of Things, Blockchain, etc.) are found.
Little by little, the resistance expressed in the first few years has been overcome and the hybrid architecture model of the Cloud is growing thanks to its scalability, flexibility and cost. In fact, another document by Accenture indicates that over 90% of companies have adopted Cloud in some form in their processes, albeit with very mixed results. There’s still, therefore, plenty more scope for action. "It’s important for companies that already had significant gaps when they entered the crisis to embrace the promise of the Cloud straight away. By doing so, they’ll be able to mitigate business risk, emerge stronger and be prepared to thrive amid future uncertainty", the report states.
As we indicated earlier, Cloud is the enabler par excellence of the other Industry 4.0 technologies and is also associated with business resilience given that it’s the facilitating tool for IT systems to guarantee excellent performance in all circumstances, including at times of peak transactions, making access to services, infrastructures and platforms possible without large investments.
But..., how can we maximize the value of Cloud? Accenture has identified five elements:
We don’t have to transfer everything to the Cloud, but if we keep all our data on-premise, we’re not taking full advantage of the productive and commercial value of the plant through, for example, Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning and Big Data. Data analytics and advanced algorithms help systems to learn and, consequently, automate processes and anticipate business solutions. It’s important to involve all staff, as migration is not only a technological exercise. Teams must understand the value of the Cloud to grasp the solutions it proposes for driving efficiency, innovation, and growth.
- Take full advantage of hyperscalers.
The current largest Cloud operators are Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services (AWS), Alibaba and Google Cloud, although there are other specialized platforms. Besides this, the usage model tends to combine various environments such as hybrid cloud and on-premises solutions. Whichever one you’re interested in, in the sheet metal and metal sector the most profitable access is offered by SaaS (Software as a Service), which is a type of access where you can have multiple applications at your fingertips on a pay-per-use basis.
- Modernize and accelerate.
Moving to the Cloud also implies updating the plant’s IT capacity, reinforcing the speed and agility of your organization by restructuring its architectures, applications and data for the cloud. Certainly, for applications that are critical and complex, with many interdependencies, modernization can’t happen overnight. This process requires a prior solid architecture, otherwise using the Cloud may not be profitable.
The sole objective is to optimize the production of the plants by incorporating advanced solutions that allow us, after analyzing the data in the Cloud, to automate processes and have the predictive capacity to anticipate events and resolve them before they happen, such as unexpected stops of the machine tool, production peaks, changes in demand, etc.
Ultimately, the Cloud drives digital transformation, creating the foundations to experiment, innovate and create new business models quickly given that several ideas can be tested simultaneously, in less time, quickly and safely. It’s about testing prototypes or solutions faster and getting real-time information to support strategic decisions.
Maximize the value of your investment in the Cloud by doing it hand in hand with experts who can help you grow your business. For the metal and sheet metal sector, our Cloud offering is Lantek 360 which includes Lantek Analytics, a data analysis program which you can use to predict trends, changes in demand, behavior patterns, re-shuffle manufacturing processes, etc. Without a doubt, it’s a way to make the plant more efficient and productive.
Our R&D teams are also working on developing three other proposals within the Cloud:
Lantek iQuoting will be the solution for fast, flexible and precise quoting, able to visualize all costs, from raw materials to working times, including energy costs. The software extracts CAD/CAM and MES data to consider all variables and fit them together to maximize material usage and adjust the budget.
Lantek Control Panel, as its name suggests, offers a dashboard that controls everything that happens in the plant in real time. Machine workloads, raw material needs, stock capacity, etc.
Lantek Metal Shop, the online shop that will work continuously with Lantek iQuoting and which helps to make ad hoc purchases. Simply upload part designs and the program will provide a range of possibilities 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.