The big data dilemma
C.V. Ramachandran, operations improvement and digital transformation expert at PA Consulting, explains how manufacturers can gain a competitive advantage by better utilizing their data.
The article notes that data has become one of the hottest trends in the manufacturing world. State-of-the-art sensors attached to assembly tools and production equipment are capable of collecting a constant stream of data.
The challenge for manufacturers is how to analyze that vast amount of data to gain a competitive advantage. Companies that figure out how to apply it can improve quality, increase productivity and yield, reduce costs and optimize supply chains.
Data-driven operations are critical to the future of manufacturing. However, many manufacturers are currently struggling to grasp the full value that data and analytics can unlock.
Data analytics can be used by manufacturing engineers to help answer important questions, such as:
- How is my asset performing now?
- How effective is my production process?
- How did it perform in the past?
- What contributed to its performance?
- How is performance changing and trending?
- How will it perform in the future?
- What action should I take and when?
Data collection driven by edge computing, the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), sensors and other smart technologies are infiltrating every aspect of the factory floor. But, while there is value in data, not all data collected is valuable to a business.
Some manufacturers have anxiety surrounding data analytics, due to the sheer amount of data being collected by smart machines on a minute-by-minute basis. Often, the idea of analyzing so many different data streams can sound like an overwhelming and expensive problem, especially to smaller companies.
As Industry 4.0 continues to become the standard, manufacturers that are not making the most of their data will be at a competitive disadvantage.
C.V. says: “The volume of data has increased in recent years, and data analytics will continue to become more important to manufacturers in the future. However, only about 20 percent of manufacturers are using data analytics to improve efficiency, increase uptime and reduce downtime."
He continues: “Up to 90 percent of data generated in a manufacturing plant typically doesn’t get used to build insights that can really help the business. Traditionally, there’s a lot of emphasis on historical reporting, which focuses on what happened in the past. There is much less emphasis on using data to see what will happen in the future.”