Cloud software is quickly becoming a viable and effective tool for manufacturing businesses. While there is still room for improvement, the advances already made offer some great inventory management solutions. Many businesses are using it to some degree, although there remains a lack of understanding across the board as to how deeply it can be implemented. Most ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) packages now include cloud modules, and concerns around reliability and security are steadily being overcome.
Along with the overall benefits, how can cloud software help manufacturing businesses in particular? To answer that, let’s take a closer look at what it is and what it can do.
What is cloud computing?
In a nutshell, it is any software or service hosted and provided over the internet. For businesses using inventory management systems it means that you access your software, platforms and data storage through a browser or internet-enabled device. This will usually be hosted by a third-party, though some businesses choose to still have some of the resources in-house.
The main benefits for manufacturers:
Save on software costs and set-up
One of the great advantages cloud computing offers is an overall reduction in costs and setup. As the software you use is hosted by a third-party, there is usually no need for installation at your end. With many SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) providers you can pay on-demand for the services, giving you a great way to keep operation costs to a minimum.
For manufacturing businesses that have a number of warehouse and shop locations, the ability to access your software from any location with minimal setup or operating difficulties is a fantastic advantage. The combined use of mobile devices and cloud-based applications is providing an edge for many businesses globally.
PaaS (Platform as a Service) and IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service)
Cloud based platforms and infrastructure are still in the early stages for manufacturing companies but are starting to offer some great solutions. The ability to rent virtual networks, hardware, servers and storage is shaping up to be a cost-effective approach for many manufacturing businesses.
Ongoing support and updates
The ongoing technical support of your service provider means less IT labour costs and more peace of mind. As software updates or upgrades are done at the provider’s end, there is less to worry about at the business end. Most cloud software providers are acutely aware of what their customers want, and are willing to develop extensions and upgrades to their software when there’s a high demand, and Unleashed inventory management software is no exception. This is one of the great advantages that cloud solutions have over in-house programmes. Partly because they run as pay on-demand, cloud software providers understand that if they don’t keep abreast of developments then their customers may go to someone who is.
Warehouse and transport management systems
SaaS solutions are beginning to appear for businesses that want an alternative to bulky in-house warehouse and transport management systems. The reality of complete cloud ERP packages for manufacturing businesses isn’t that far away – bringing the promise of substantial cost and labour savings.
More accurate forecasting
Good forecasting is reliant on accurate data and real-time automation. Cloud solutions can now provide the most versatile and easily accessible platforms around. Every part of the inventory and supply-chain is visible and adjustable making accurate and intuitive forecasting easier and more customized.
Automation of supply-chain processes
Cloud inventory management solutions are providing excellent automation of supply-chain processes, enabling a reduction in user error and simplicity of access. The leading software is accurate and user-friendly, even for businesses with complicated and diverse supply-chains.
One of the stand-out advantages of cloud computing for any business is the unlimited potential of mobile access and usage. For manufacturing businesses – that operate from a variety of locations and with an abundance of inventory and items for production – real-time mobile technology ensures accurate operations, and an enhanced ability to keep on top of inventory processes.
Article by Melanie Chan in collaboration with our team of Unleashed Software inventory and business specialists. Melanie has been writing about inventory management for the past three years. When not writing about inventory management, you can find her eating her way through Auckland.