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Western Computer

The Evolution of IoT and the Cloud in Distribution


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There has been a lot of hype associated both with the Internet of Things (IoT) and cloud computing. For manufacturing and distribution, we have a rich foundation that existed long before the term IoT was even coined. That makes those of us working in this field uniquely positioned to make the move less intimidating and to reap the rewards, no matter how big or small the organization.

Beyond the Hype

Many of us have been getting data directly from equipment for years. Examples include system monitoring tools such as temperature and pressure gauges. Likewise, manufacturing execution systems (MES) have been in place for years as computerized systems used to track and document the transformation of materials to finished goods. MES often operates across the enterprise to handle things like resource management and scheduling, product life-cycle, quality assurance, and reporting. Although the various system parameters differ and change, you might think of MES as a stepping stone to an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system, which in turn can set the foundation for IoT and the cloud.

Distribution, IoT, and the Cloud

IoT can be viewed as an extension to the more traditional tools cited above. With the additional reach of IoT in distribution, many new capabilities become possible. For example, more applications communicating with more equipment results in more comprehensive data for monitoring and decision making. Things like preventive maintenance become possible.

Your company is probably already using the cloud to some degree and most employees have been using it for a long time—sending email, paying bills online, watching movies, playing games, etc. In fact, we’re so accustomed to having instant access to what we need, it’s frustrating when we don’t. The cloud has now become the undisputed future of communication, data storage, and business growth.

Moving your ERP system to the cloud offers many similar benefits. Consider the case of one distributor, Volutone, who recently partnered with Western Computer to upgrade to Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations in the cloud to streamline and lower the cost of system upgrades. In doing so, they were able to provide greater business continuity and adapt to changing transaction process requirements.

IoT doesn’t require the cloud. However, the cloud does solve the size and scale problem that IoT creates. The Microsoft Azure cloud allows for a centralized, cost-effective way to deal with the volume of data that IoT creates and makes possible. Most distributors want to integrate, connect, analyze, and report on this data. The goal is not more data for the sake of data alone, but rather more meaningful business insights to improve efficiencies and the bottom line.

Western Computer knows the distribution industry. We’ve helped hundreds of Distributors connect their core business systems, modernize processes, and discover ways to operate more efficiently. Feel free to browse our content specifically tailored for Distributors and to contact us today to get the answers you need.

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