CloudNC Featured in Forbes – 22 February 2021.
There’s too much talk and not enough action around Industry 4.0, it’s all vision and almost no delivery. That’s the view of manufacturing visionary and Forbes 30under30 recipient Theo Saville, co-founder and CEO of CloudNC. Like many, they are looking at autonomous manufacturing as the next real revolution and they see the current noise around Industry 4.0 as just part of the ‘compute/digital’ revolution, or Industry 3.0. Indeed, it feels like most of what people refer to as the fourth industrial revolution is just the manufacturing industry catching up with sectors like e-commerce, social media, SaaS and logistics just to name a few.
CloudNC’s “End-to-end Autonomy” vision
CloudNC is bringing revolution in the form of autonomy to the world of CNC manufacturing. CNC made parts are in just about everything we use from consumer products to industrial machines, cars, robots and much more. By autonomy, CloudNC’s vision includes machines that are able to reprogram themselves to make new parts or products without the need for human intervention.
This autonomy revolution can deliver huge benefits in terms of the customer experience, operational performance and cost-efficiency. The team at CloudNC believe the CNC manufacturing sector is ripe for disruption: Whilst the machine hardware is very sophisticated, able to make parts to accuracies of 1/1000th of a millimetre, the software and the processes they use are not. Production planning, machine programming, and supply chain management are just a few areas that need to be autonomized. Around half of the factories that use CNC machines don’t even have an ERP system, they are still using spreadsheets or even a paper based system. That’s where CloudNC has identified the opportunity to bring significant rapid improvements, which can accrue enormous benefits to the bottomline of companies and to the efficiency and resilience of their operations.
CloudNC’s vision is “End-to-end Autonomy” – in a nutshell, leveraging the power of AI and computational algorithms to tackle all aspects of the manufacturing process. By making, first CNC machines, then CNC facilities autonomous, it is possible to quickly improve product quality and consistency, speed and cost, replacing slow and error-prone human adjustments with algorithmic optimization. By optimizing the entire workflow within a factory CloudNC dramatically reduces bottlenecks, downtime and error, as well as optimize work schedules. And make no mistake, CloudNC’s ambitions don’t stop at software, they take a full stack approach to the transformation of the industry by building and running their own autonomous factories, starting with their home base in the UK. They are already selling metal parts to people who want those parts faster, better and cheaper, and it turns out that’s just about everybody in just about every industry from the higher reliability markets like aerospace and medical devices to industrial equipment or robotics.
caling these benefits globally will come when CloudNC begins to roll out a global ecosystem of factories, each a copy and paste version of their home facility. But there is another level of efficiency to be unlocked here: leveraging their software to optimise the workflow across factories, and to coordinate the entire ecosystem of sales, supply chain, production and distribution.
It’s no surprise then that co-founders, Theo Saville and Chris Emery, are fond of the comparisons people have made between CloudNC and Amazon in its formative years: the comparisons capture the heart of their approach. Theo and Chris often refer to Amazon’s business model as their favorite of the big four and the one most likely to stand the test of time and lead the industry for many many decades.
CloudNC uses software as the overarching solution and believes that an autonomous system managing operators and machines will drive transformation and incremental improvements in efficiency. Like Amazon, CloudNC’s approach is to build a full stack solution that allows them enough control to roll out complex and extremely efficient systems. This means developing the solutions, owning the facilities and creating a copy/paste blueprint that can be repeated over and over.
One analogy would be the self-driving car, no-one would trust something cobbled together from off-the-shelf parts, a single full-stack solution provider is essential! This is perhaps where CloudNC actually looks even more like Amazon Web Services (AWS) than Amazon, building a scalable cloud-based ecosystem that delivers exactly what people want, when they want it and where they want it, often at a much lower price.
What really separates CloudNC from others is the level of their ambition for the next industrial revolution and for the transformation of the industry. They are not a SaaS company making adjustments to how things currently operate. They plan to deliver a complete ecosystem of autonomous machines in autonomous factories, and ultimately an autonomous supply chain from order to delivery without human interaction or decision making, delivering huge benefits in terms of performance and economy.
This hasn’t been seen and will truly constitute revolutionary transformation, unlocking huge potential benefits in efficiency and productivity. Theo Saville and the team at CloudNC believe it will not be individual manufacturers or software companies that disrupt industry. It will be those full stack players who build the software, own the machines and the factories and ultimately create the entire solution end-to-end.
CloudNC is not just talking about the digital-industrial revolution, they are deploying it across machines, factories and ecosystems, to finally unlock the huge potential benefits in efficiency and productivity. As Elvis Presley sang, “A little less conversation, a little more action”.