A cloud is the Internet-based provision of storage space, computing power and application software. It can be used at home and at work to make information available and shareable anytime, anywhere. Data and information are no longer stored locally, but on web servers. The word manufacturing is mainly used in professional circles and is synonymous with the industrial or manual production process.
Cloud manufacturing transfers the cloud computing approach to the manufacturing process. This enables access to production capacities at any time and as required. The cloud combines all production facilities into a single digital factory.
The customer thus receives all the necessary information about production processes, procurement times and conditions via a single interface. With this bundling of all information, the procurement effort can be significantly reduced.
The goal of a cloud manufacturing platform is to combine all the different services, to evaluate and convey information. With the help of artificial intelligence, the optimal offer can be found for every need. In the background, the respective decisions are influenced by various factors such as reducing environmental pollution, variable cost units and capacity utilization. This enables resource-saving work. Various platforms already exist today that offer such services for 3D printing, sheet metal production or CNC machining.
What are the advantages of cloud manufacturing?
Consistent quality of the components
Quality is extremely important to customers. However, it’s not always easy to find the right supplier who can deliver the required quality. Manufacturing platforms use a standard procedure to check potential manufacturers before they are added to the network. One possibility is doing test orders with comprehensive quality documentation or standardized certifications. For the customer, this guarantees high production quality without having to carry out costly pre-audit processes on the part of the supplier.
Cloud manufacturing thrives on the large selection of manufacturing processes and manufacturing capacities. The production of the required components is assigned to the nearest manufacturer with the necessary skills and capacities.
Another added value is that the customer immediately receives an offer after uploading the data (in 3D or 2D). As a result, professionals need to communicate less time-consuming and have more time for other tasks. They can also process an increased order volume.
With cloud manufacturing, everyone involved can see the flow of information. Through real-time data collection and access via the manufacturing platform, the customer or supplier can inquire about the progress of the order at any time. This simplifies working together. In addition, any changes or adjustments can be easily adapted along the entire value chain.
If the customer is to receive an offer in real time, the uploaded data must be evaluated by a complex system. The feasibility is checked based on the geometric data. This means that errors in component design can be detected right from the start. Faulty productions are thus excluded.
Optimum utilization by splitting up the order volume
Orders can be split among several suitable suppliers. An example:
A customer orders 5000 parts. Supplier A can produce these with its manufacturing skills. However, he has a fully utilized production and no free capacities.
The order is now passed on to suppliers B and C, who are part of the cloud manufacturing network and have the same competencies. Neither of the two suppliers has enough capacity to produce the entire order. Together, however, the volume can be managed. The production of the 5000 parts is automatically divided between suppliers B and C. It is therefore not necessary to wait until supplier A has free capacities. The order is carried out in-time. The cloud controls these processes automatically.
Principle of a production platform with an online portal for requesting production parts
Service Oriented Manufacturing
Manufacturing companies are fixated on production and concentrate on their own core competence. However, this competence only represents a sub-process in the entire value chain. By connecting cloud and manufacturing, resources from the entire value chain can be offered in one place. This creates a comprehensive service for the customer.
Cloud Manufacturing platforms can combine several orders from different customers. You can make bundled inquiries to the supplier and negotiate better conditions. The resulting price reductions are passed on to the customer. Larger quantities therefore mean better prices for the customer.
Different manufacturing processes – one contact person
A selected network of different competencies offers the customer the opportunity to produce parts with different manufacturing processes. The platform’s data analysis ensures that the right manufacturers receive the right orders. With this concept of cloud manufacturing, the customer has one contact person from the offer to delivery. This includes all support and any complaints that may arise.
Concentration on core competencies
SMEs often do not have their own procurement department. Developers or designers take care of the search for suitable suppliers. With the help of a manufacturing platform, this work can be outsourced and there is more time for the core tasks.
Linking of different manufacturing processes and customers via a manufacturing platform
Who is cloud manufacturing aimed at?
Large companies already receive attractive prices due to the large quantities and their own procurement department. The production volumes of SMEs, on the other hand, are usually smaller. By using the manufacturing platform, they can reduce prices by combining multiple orders.
Even without knowledge of the industrial environment or contacts to manufacturers, a startup can quickly implement new ideas with the help of manufacturing platforms. The manufacturing platform serves as an experienced partner with a network of suitable manufacturers. So, global sales of a new product are possible quickly and easily. Manufacturers can be found close to the end customer via the manufacturing platform. Also, storage and delivery costs can be saved, which minimizes the risk when starting a new business.
The manufacturing platform also relieves specialists who have to take care of outsourcing production or optimizing processes in companies. The manufacturing platform simplifies outsourcing. The procurement process can be completely outsourced.
Pricing of new developments is often difficult. Estimates of production costs must already be made after the first draft. Customers of a manufacturing platform receive immediate feedback on the price range of the required components. Products can thus already be calculated more cost-effectively during development. This helps with the further calculation of subsequent series and the decision regarding the product launch.
People who are looking for special, individual production parts for hobbies or private projects will find the same possibilities on a production platform as a company. For example, you can order individual pieces for a patio railing or your own design for a table frame. Try it out and take advantage of it for yourself.