All forms of business management, and all studies of management science, require accurate, duplicable and reliable data at their very foundation. Big Data is helping manufacturers achieve the same. The advanced integrated, systemic data collected has capabilities that are beneficial and is a pathway to greater productivity. In many cases, the gains from adoption of the latest digital control techniques can be substantial.
An important principle of business management is to plan before executing any strategic initiative. But what is seen in companies today is a blind rush to collect data. The answer to how should this data be used and implemented still eludes many. According to the Economist Intelligent Unit study commissioned by Wipro, 'Manufacturing and the Data Conundrum', just 42% of companies have a well-defined data management strategy.
Deriving applicable insights from the collected data is what will impact your business positively. For example, At Meritor, a maker of drivetrains, brakes and other commercial vehicle components, customers tend to focus on one metric - the number of rejected parts per million (PPM) - to evaluate suppliers. To respond, Meritor quintupled the amount of data it collects and began to track defect rates not just by part, but also by individual production operations. It also decided to differentiate between reject PPM of products shipped to customers and supplier PPM, which takes into account quality levels from component suppliers. In 2013, Meritor’s reject rate was 139 parts per million. During the 2014 first quarter, with more plants working to improve the traceability of production issues, the rate fell to 67.
Today you are bombarded with tons of data, the path to success lies in putting that data to effective use and drawing valuable insights to understand your customers’ needs better. And the customer is happiest with a good quality product and this is where data analytics can prove to be a game-changer for manufacturers. Nearly 72% of the participants in the EIU study feel that data can make a big difference; they pick product quality management in their top three business areas likely to see gains from more data, a much larger proportion than for any of the other areas and 28% points more than the proportion picking the number-two area of potential gains. Data is helping manufacturers understand their customers need better as data-driven product designs that report performance issues automatically to manufacturer service departments.
For example, jet aircraft engines that are linked to the Internet and communicate on their own when service is needed. Emerging problems, in turn, lead to an enhanced need to boost analytic capacity linked directly to shop floor production processes.
The machines themselves, in other words, feed the need for process data, leading to installation of more linked machines, and more actionable data in the factory. After all is said and done, it turns out that coordinated digital control systems can and do produce insights that are extremely valuable as shown in the study.
So have you tasted the benefits of big data yes? Do share your thoughts in the comments section below.