Manufacturing-as-a-Service

The Genesis and OEM Benefits of Manufacturing as a Service (MaaS)

April 2, 2019

When strategic OEM partners collaborate via the cloud, good things happen. More good things are about to happen as the digital revolution permeates manufacturing service providers to help OEMs and other customers compete globally.

Manufacturing systems are evolving towards a new service-oriented architecture that will benefit from smart manufacturing technologies, such as the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), artificial intelligence (AI), and big data analytics. This service-oriented system is a dynamic composite of networked manufacturing software and cyber-physical components.

Manufacturing as a Service

Welcome to manufacturing as a service, or MaaS. The concept is akin to so many other services available in the cloud and uses the same acronym logic. The essence of MaaS is a sharing of manufacturing infrastructure, networked for expedience. Equipment and other manufacturing capacity are utilized to more efficiently produce products. If orchestrated properly, it reduces costs and produces quality products with a certain efficiency not possible without sharing.

One Person’s Downtime Becomes Another’s Uptime

It begins with the cloud and its underlying software and hardware that applies data intelligently to schedule and optimally operate capital equipment. Someone else’s downtime becomes your uptime, and vice versa.

It’s related to the proverbial contract manufacturing, which is a longstanding service model for the industry. What’s changed, though, is the growing acceptance of digitization by industrial firms. Cloud computing has advanced in many other industries; now it’s manufacturing’s time to put this concept to work. Technology is driving the digital engine and MaaS is benefiting from it.

Technology’s Time Has Come: Digitize and Optimize

We’ve been hearing about big data for years. We also know that IoT networks have been all the rage with much promise. It’s now possible to bring everything together, thanks to the cloud. Digital manufacturing is becoming automated enough to turn on the service model for manufacturing.

In early 2019, the certified public accounting firm of Adams, Brown, Beran & Ball (ABBB) jointly released the results from the 2019 ABBB/Leading Edge Alliance National Manufacturing Outlook Survey. In terms of technology, they concluded that in the year ahead, manufacturers plan to leverage technology to solve productivity concerns. Seventy-six percent of respondents said that they will investigate and prioritize cybersecurity, while another 43 percent said they will prioritize big data, ERP, and IoT. Manufacturers know that tomorrow’s success stories will begin with those that have automated and invested in the technology to capitalize on it.

A Coordinated Path to Better and Faster

With MaaS, firms leverage a conjoint network of manufacturing infrastructure. The machines— their maintenance, controls, software, and everything in between—are put to work in a coordinated way to produce products better and faster.

Once a manufacturer or contract manufacturer is in-network, their software applications may be integrated and connected with others. Design reviews take place rapidly with a degree of automatic price quotes generated from a review and processing of the materials, anticipated labor, and operational time intelligently computed.

For instance, a customer can send an order, the networked players ingest the order, match it against their available resources, and the order can be routed and scheduled to expeditiously put it into operation. The net result is speed, from the beginning proposal to the shipped product.

The World Economic Forum’s report, “The Digital Enterprise: Moving from Experimentation to Transformation,” states: “In their pursuit of innovation, most, if not all, incumbent companies have digital efforts under way. They effectively think up ideas and test them. The struggle begins with the next step, namely scaling the best ideas. Specifically, it means integrating them across the organization at a size big enough to make a true difference, and then embracing the new ways of working required to maintain the momentum.”

When researcher IDC explored this approach to delivering product based on a networked model, they found ample potential. More importantly, modern manufacturing sees and feels the opportunity afforded by a model of MaaS. Like so many other industries, manufacturing is exploring a new way of doing business, one that integrates the point of service closer to the point of delivery.

“Cloud service providers around the world are rapidly changing their business models in response to unprecedented customer demand, offering a mix of new cloud infrastructure, application, and managed services as part of an agile investment strategy,” said Chris Morris, vice president for cloud service providers research at IDC Asia/Pacific. “What is striking is not only the pace of transformation, but also the variety of offerings coming to market as a result. From managed cybersecurity to performance optimization, the hosting of complex business applications and hybrid cloud are offering the potential for service integration at point of delivery.”