Manufacturing in the cloud: the move to service businesses

By: Sanjay Ravi, Sr. Director, Worldwide Manufacturing at Microsoft

Earlier this week Satya Nadella, CEO, and Scott Guthrie, Executive Vice President, Cloud and Enterprise Group, Microsoft,talked about Microsoft’s approach for delivering the most complete cloud across every business, industry and geography. Satya talked about the mobile-first, cloud-first world we’re living in, and how the mobility of the human experience across devices is made possible by the cloud.

The manufacturing industry is dramatically changing. The industry is moving from manufacturing products, to creating service-centric relationships with customers. Manufacturers need to identify problems – and also solutions – faster while also developing new products to meet the needs of connected consumers and adhering to increasingly complex regulations. If manufacturers want to develop their business and light up these relationships around the world, they need the cloud, too. In this new world, with the power of cloud computing, automakers deliver connected consumer experiences with personalized, value added features like automated traffic updates and digital entertainment, elevator companies sell ongoing business services, and equipment manufacturers predict the maintenance needed and fix things before they break down. All of these things save time and money and make for happier customers.

Elevators with a mind of their own, at your service

As Satya mentioned in his keynote on Monday, ThyssenKrupp Elevator is betting on Microsoft’s cloud to make sure people can get the right information to make decisions faster. The company is one of the world’s leading elevator manufacturers, specializing in innovative and energy-efficient products. It maintains more than 1.1 million elevators worldwide, including those at some of the world’s most iconic buildings.

ThyssenKrupp wanted to gain a competitive edge by focusing on what matters most to its customers in buildings the world over: reliability. Drawing on the potential of the Internet of Things (IoT) by connecting its elevators to the cloud, gathering data from its sensors and systems and transforming that data into valuable business intelligence, ThyssenKrupp is vastly improving operations, going beyond the industry standard of preventative maintenance, to offer predictive and even preemptive maintenance. Now with Microsoft’s Intelligent Systems Service they capture data, transmit it into the cloud and combine it into a single dashboard with two basic types of data: alarms that indicate an immediate issue, and events, which are stored and used for management.

The solution provides technicians instant diagnostic capabilities, using Power BI for Office 365 for rich, real-time data visualization. Now, instead of just reacting to a failure alarm, technicians can use real-time data to define a needed repair before a breakdown happens. And, thanks to a two-way flow of data, technicians can remotely put an elevator into diagnostics mode, or they can send it to another floor. It all adds up to less time traveling, better efficiency and reduced costs. (You can read more on this story on our Fire Hose blog.)

Automakers with a playlist and a drive time

The connected car experience is the future of automotive industry, because it is changing the relationship between automakers and their customers and offering new revenue streams to this industry. One really innovative company in this space is Toyota. About three years ago Toyota decided to use Microsoft Azure for its telematics platform for Toyota plug-in hybrid and fully-electric vehicles. By using Azure’s enterprise-grade, scalable platform, Telematics is able deliver everything from digital entertainment to driving information like GPS and traffic updates to energy management and other data-driven services in a vehicle. We’ll be sharing much more on this auto industry transformation in the coming months.

Equipment manufactures with a crystal ball

M.G. Bryan Equipment Co., a leading heavy equipment and machinery OEM for the oil and gas industry, has been using cloud computing for remote asset management of high-tech fracturing equipment for over a couple of years now. Designed and integrated with Rockwell Automation, M.G. Bryan's equipment's control and information system uses Microsoft Azure to help provide secure remote access to real-time information, automated maintenance alerts, and service and parts delivery requests. With Rockwell Automation, M.G. Bryan designed a simple, user-friendly system using the cloud to improve productivity and business intelligence.

Rockwell Automation upgraded M.G. Bryan's fracturing equipment with a tightly integrated control and information system that brings together disparate information sources, including historical, relational and transactional data. Cloud computing allowed them to fully leverage this rich data without having to build and manage their own datacenters. Using mobile technology and the seamless transfer of business information over the cloud, M.G. Bryan has access to a higher degree of connected intelligence, allowing them to cost-effectively keep tabs on their equipment and help customers maximize asset uptime, improving their return on investment.

With the new system, data can be pulled from the cloud onto their mobile devices and Web browsers to produce reports and dashboards on the condition of individual vehicles' drivetrains and on hydraulic fracturing performance, and can process performance and maintenance trends related to entire fleets. The flexibility and scalability of cloud computing is helping M.G. Bryan offer holistic operations management to its rapidly expanding fleet of vehicles.

Why should you consider working with Microsoft on this cloud transformation?

We’ve invested heavily over time to establish the operational security rigor that enterprise businesses require. We offer the most choice and flexibility in the cloud that gives you three important things: a hybrid environment as an option, hyper-scale infrastructure, and enterprise grade experiences, ensuring our cloud meets critical security, reliability and availability needs. Microsoft’s cloud services help manufacturers understand their market demand at the micro level, engage customers wherever they are, and develop new sales opportunities on a global scale.

More details on Monday’s announcements can be found on the Official Microsoft Blog and in the event press release.