The data you collect is the most valuable asset you have. Used correctly, it can provide the insights needed to drive efficiencies that could make a significant difference to your bottom line. But right now, 80 percent of manufacturing companies still aren’t making full use of this valuable resource.
A single version of the truth
Manufacturing has always lent itself to data collection: by nature, there are an abundance of measurable data sources, from the ambient temperature on the factory floor to the productivity of individual employees. With the introduction of the so-called ‘fourth industrial revolution’ and the Internet of Things, the opportunities for data collection are bigger than ever.
Manufacturers can use the information gathered from the production process to drive efficiency and make significant savings –but in order for this to happen, it needs to be amassed into one place, for a single, reliable version of the truth. If, for example, your MRP system is used separately from your ERP software, which is separate again from the sensor technology on the production line, you won’t be getting the aggregated information that’s needed for the big picture, and to make insightful, evidence-based decisions to benefit your bottom line.
The data journey: from raw numbers to machine automation
Once all your data sources are integrated into one unified stream that is complete, easy to access and tells the whole story, it’s what you do with it that matters. There are different stages of the data journey: at the most basic level, it can provide substantiation for the decisions that you are used to making, providing real-time information to inform your strategy. Secondly, easily accessible data can empower other people to make the decisions – so that teams working on the floor are incentivized to spot potential efficiencies and act to make the required adjustments themselves.
Eventually – and crucially – the platform could begin to utilize streams of data captured in near real-time to generate reports or automated responses.
By leveraging machine learning and artificial intelligence across all areas of a factory, manufacturers can begin to manage costs, access greater insights through data and deliver greater value to their customers.
The data captured can support predictive maintenance, drive real-time machine optimization, or even identify, optimize and allocate resources across a production team.
Of course, there will always be a need for some sort of manual oversight – human intervention is still important, especially when it comes to health and safety. But using artificial intelligence to automate as many processes as possible brings the opportunity to drive out efficiencies, reduce waste and maximize profitability.
Dipping your toe in the water: a low-risk approach
In the world of manufacturing technology, it can seem as if there’s always something new coming along to usurp the previous way of doing things. And while it’s important to stay ahead of the game, experimenting with new methods and tools can be costly.
So, it’s reassuring that adopting a data-driven approach with cloud-based technology is a low-risk approach:
With a cloud-based data platform and associated services, there’s potentially a lower cost of entry to access new technology. A carefully chosen and substantiated use case can be delivered at a reduced cost with an overall lower risk. There’s no need for a big investment straight away. Armed with solid data, you are equipped with a tangible proof of concept to convince stakeholders that this is a platform worth investing in further.
Taking back ownership of your data
Many manufacturing companies rely on a third-party solution for data reporting, rendering them dependent and potentially tied into a costly consultancy. But by taking back ownership with a centralized data store, you become the integrators and extractors of the data – which can be seen as your company’s crown jewels.
By aligning key business objectives alongside a data strategy, the possibilities really begin to unfold, with the potential for your company to potentially resell new skills and services outside your own organization and client base. The possibilities are exciting, and allow you to take back the reins, and shift your focus to be proactive rather than reactive.
It’s important to realize that taking back control of your data isn’t simply a case of getting someone in for a quick fix. At Adatis, our philosophy is that it’s very much a two-way learning process: we’ll bring our data platform knowledge and skills to the table, but we also need to learn from your unique expertise which is specific to your sector.
The good news is that working with your data in this way doesn’t have to be a shot in the dark: by starting small, you’ll see very quickly how investing in your data platform can help you to improve quality control, minimize equipment failure and manage supply chain risk, driving potential efficiencies that just can’t be ignored.
Steve Dawson is an Account Director for Adatis with over 20 years’ experience of applying Microsoft technologies to support a wide variety of clients with their digital transformation journey. Adatis are a leading Microsoft-specialist Data Analytics Consultancy. We help our clients make better informed business decisions by designing and delivering enterprise data management solutions. We work with clients across various industries to transform data into meaningful information that lets them act smarter, move quicker and grow faster.