The world isn’t slowing down. Companies, consumers, and countries alike are in a state of constant flux—changing trends, needs, and demands at the drop of a hat. At the epicenter of this storm, powering our daily lives, manufacturers face ongoing challenges like rising costs, supply chain issues, and skills gaps that mean being able to adapt quickly to unforeseen circumstances and sudden changes are crucial to manufacturers’ survival and growth.

Some manufacturers are embracing the ways that technology and innovation can help them bridge the chasm into the future. By building agile, smart factories these manufacturers are a step toward creating resilient, sustainable, and profitable operations.

There is no better time for manufacturing organizations to adopt innovative and intelligent cloud and edge technologies and solutions with significant progress made in connecting devices in factories and making smarter connected products for customers. But, with connected devices and products, new challenges are emerging, such as cybersecurity, new skills gaps in Internet of Things (IoT) and operational technology (OT) integration and application development, and increased expectations of purchased solutions to be composable, extensible, and support low code or no code.

Microsoft Cloud for Manufacturing is hosting several sessions at this year’s Microsoft Ignite event:

Among the topics that will be covered at Microsoft Ignite, there will be time dedicated to discussing the benefits of Microsoft Cloud for Manufacturing for accelerating the development of factory applications, as well as other topics addressed in the Top 6 findings from IoT Signals: Manufacturing Spotlight.

Accelerating the journey to smarter factories.

As manufacturers continue their move into the future, a majority are moving to implement smart-factory strategies, with 91 percent of manufacturers who have already adopted IoT pointing to increased operational efficiency as the top benefit.1 Overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) stands out as one of the most critical performance indicators for measuring that operational efficiency, asset productivity, and the overall success of their smart factory strategy.

With as much as 76 percent of manufacturing assets now connected, many manufacturers are moving workloads and applications from on-premises infrastructure to public and private cloud platforms, hoping to reduce costs and build more intelligent factory applications.1 Moreover, many manufacturers plan to increase investments in smart connected IoT products.

However, even with the broader adoption of smart and connected devices, some manufacturers still face the hurdle of getting those devices and technologies to “talk” to each other. The greatest challenges constraining smart factory strategies are:

  • Developing new applications (49 percent)1
  • Securing OT networks (43 percent)1
  • Interfacing with enterprise applications such as enterprise resource planning (ERP) or manufacturing execution systems (MES) (42 percent)1
  • Managing different data formats and protocols (42 percent)1

Exacerbated by skills gaps:

  • Advanced data analysis (45 percent)1
  • IT cybersecurity (44 percent)1
  • Cloud OT system coding (39 percent)1
  • Cloud IT system coding (38 percent)1

Manufacturers are addressing these skills gaps by:

  • Training (64 percent)1
  • Buying more complete digital offerings (54 percent)1
  • Additional reliance on existing partners (53 percent)1

Operational visibility is the foundation of their smart factory strategies, giving them the performance insights they need across multiple factories, lines, and production equipment, while also serving as the starting point for sharing best practices, enhancing factory and multi-factory collaboration between frontline workers, engineering experts, and the partner ecosystem that keep their factories running.

Learn how Microsoft Cloud for Manufacturing accelerates the path to operational visibility, empowering frontline workers, supervisors, and engineers to collaborate to analyze problems and take action in real-time with real results, and new low code and no code applications.

Learn more about smarter factories and better outcomes at Microsoft Ignite

As rising costs, supply chain issues, and other challenges continue to mount, manufacturers are turning to intelligent cloud solutions and technology to build more agile, smarter factories. To future-proof your manufacturing organization, it’s imperative to find new ways to make data-driven decisions through industrial IoT, cloud, AI, and mixed reality solutions. To learn more about these technologies and the insights they can provide, join us at Microsoft Ignite.

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1IoT Signals: Manufacturing Spotlight report, 2022.