German software giant SAP has announced the launch of its Digital Manufacturing Cloud, which will enable manufacturing providers to deploy Industry 4.0 technologies in the cloud.
The announcement was made at the 2018 Hannover Messe, the yearly technological jamboree for all things industrial. The product includes business system integration, meaning greater visibility for the shop floor, as well as predictive analytics and a cloud-based collaboration system connecting customers with manufacturing service providers.
The cloud offering ‘extends and complements the digital manufacturing portfolio of on-premise solutions from SAP’, in the company’s own words, and is aimed at manufacturers of all sizes.
“Manufacturers in the era of Industry 4.0 require solutions that are intelligent, networked and predictive,” said Bernd Leukert, SAP board member for products and innovation in a statement. “Our manufacturing cloud solutions help customers take advantage of the Industrial Internet of Things by connecting equipment, people and operations across the extended digital supply chain and tightly integrating manufacturing with business operations.”
As far back as 2012, scientific papers were published on the role cloud computing could play in the manufacturing industry. One, published in the February 2012 edition of Robotics and Computer-Integrated Manufacturing, asserted cloud could ‘transform the traditional manufacturing business model, help it to align product innovation with business strategy, and create intelligent factory networks that encourage effective collaboration.’
Writing for this publication in 2013, Louis Columbus explored software as a service (SaaS) adoption in the manufacturing sector. According to Cindy Jutras, founder of analyst firm MintJutras, manufacturing organisations showed confusion around the technology, with half not understanding the difference between single and multi-tenant SaaS architectures. By 2023, almost half (45%) of all manufacturing software was expected to become SaaS-based, up from 22% in 2013.
Last year, Columbus again wrote around how integrating ERP and CRM systems is set to change the shape of manufacturing, bringing it in line with many other industries. “Bringing contextual intelligence into manufacturing that centres on customers’ unique, fast-changing requirements is a must-have to keep growing sales profitably,” wrote Columbus. “By integrating ERP, CRM, SCM, pricing and legacy systems together, manufacturers can provide customers what they want most – accurate, fast responses to their questions and perfect orders delivered.”
Going back to the production line, SAP also announced SAP Connected Worker Safety, a product which offers project managers, as well as health and safety personnel, access to data collected by IoT devices in real time. The sensors will collect worker data, such as heart rate and body temperature, and can raise alarms based on incidents such as dehydration or fatigue.