Manufacturing industry has witnessed a pleasurable trend over the last decade or so. It goes like this:
Thanks to ever-declining sensor prices, it’s now cheaper than ever to collect data.
This trend has led to both massive insights and massive headaches – especially for the logical, analytical leaders and managers who sometimes want to measure EVERYTHING.
More data naturally offers a potential for even greater insights, but it can also create new problems. One of the biggest ones we see is storing data in these small, separate silos that do not communicate with each other very easily.
You could have a gazillion bits of data stored somewhere, but unless you get to see and work on all of that data in one place, you can’t see the underlying correlations and thus, make better production decisions.
Not to worry though, this problem can indeed be solved with modern computing power and equipment. But why bother? Why should manufacturing companies even think of diving into all of that data? Here are some pretty good reasons:
– accurate forecasts about production
– less defects
– shorter lead times
– drastically reduce costly down-time
– spot problems before they become monsters, and eliminate them immediately
– greater profits
– find hidden correlations, and use those to further strengthen your competitive advantage
It’s also good to understand that whereas in the past it might have taken MONTHS to draw any kind of meaningful insights from the health of the production, those same (and even better) conclusions can now be reached in DAYS – sometimes even in real time.
So, for most modern companies it’s not about not having data to begin with, but turning that “information” into something useful.
Interpreting that data in turn is a lot like taking a color blindness test: You need to look really hard to see the pattern through the distraction.
Well… Your competitors are also looking at a picture like that. What if you could see the number 14 clearly from a mile away? What would one or two months of extra thinking time mean to your bottom line?
It’s been our experience that even small differences in thinking can make a tremendous difference in results. Especially in high-volume production environments, asking the right kind of questions can quickly lead to ROI that makes data-mining a complete no-brainer.
So, let’s say you’re somehow responsible for making good choices in production…
Our best tips go like this:
1. Don’t silo your data
It’s understandable. At some point in time that was probably the best way to structure all the data your manufacturing produces. But you need to know that the problem is getting worse by every bit of data if it means you can’t adequately compare numbers from sensor 1 with sensor 2 etc. It gets especially bad when whole production is treated as it’s own universe, far away from things like customers, costs and employees of the company.
2. Look for hidden patterns
All right, let’s say you’ve got your data in an easily digestible form. Now what? You naturally DO want to look for the obvious metrics in your industry, and measure those with other obvious metrics, and see if there’s anything interesting in there.
But you also want to look beyond the obvious. What if you could come up with a totally un-heard-of correlation that’s so strong you can almost talk of cause and effect? Like discovering through pure accident that lead times are 10% shorter when using part A instead of part B?
Or what if there was a clear pattern between customer satisfaction and certain pilot or test you did with a unique combination of parts or something like that?
3. Stay focused
Finally, this one needs to be addressed.
Many people who are working with lots of data tend to get so excited about it, that they sometimes lose themselves in JUST collecting and analyzing data. While this is better than doing nothing, it’s always good to remember the purpose of data-mining: to get more marketable goods done faster and cheaper than your competitors.
So how about you? No, wait! Let us guess… You’ve been thinking about utilizing your data better. You’ve had a vague dream that maybe you’re sitting on a gold mine, but haven’t really gotten around doing anything at all about it just yet?
Sounds familiar. If you let us, we can help you out.
Here’s the deal…
We’ve talked to a lot of people in the manufacturing industry. While conditions of course vary from one company to the next, it’s still inevitable to start seeing some patterns. There’s nothing like seeing the proverbial light bulb go off when someone gets a great idea on what intelligent use of big data could help them achieve.
If you would like to be this person, why don’t we grab a cup of coffee together? The easiest way to move forward with this is to simply fill out our contact form over here.
At least a couple of new ideas for you – guaranteed (or the coffee is on us).
Have a great day!
PS: Okay, you’re right. 74 it is.
COO, Service Delivery
+358 40 550 2524
Keilaranta 17, C-talo