Big Data’s Transformation of the Manufacturing Industry

by   |   March 28, 2017 5:30 am   |   0 Comments

Modern industries are seeing huge impacts from big data and software analytics. And while many of these impacts have improved the overall efficiency and profitability of the manufacturing industry, big data itself can still be a bit difficult to understand, especially for those who aren’t data gurus. You don’t have to be a data scientist, though, to understand the benefits of big data for manufacturing. In fact, here’s a brief overview of big data and how it is transforming modern manufacturing practices.

What role does IT play in the big data revolution for the manufacturing industry?

First and foremost, from a big data standpoint, IT has played the largest role in the manufacturing industry revolution. Thanks to automated processes combined with various forms of mechanization, massive amounts of data are being generated. And while the data can have real value, the truth is that most manufacturing companies do not have the slightest clue what to do with it. With thousands — sometimes millions or even more — of accessible data points, manufacturing companies can improve operational efficiency and increase profit levels. This improvement in efficiency and increase in profit levels is a direct result of the big data being able to:

Save money: Big data helps reduce the cost of production as well as the expenses accompanied with packaging. Furthermore, big data helps decrease the amount of money spent on transporting products and storing them in warehouses. All of this leads to a reduction in inventory costs, which result in higher profit margins.

Improve workforce efficiency: Big data improves the management of workers by analyzing error rates on the production floor. The reports created through such analytics allows for effective solutions to be developed that reduce these errors, which increases workflow efficiency.

Enhance collaboration: One of the top benefits of big data for the manufacturing industry is that it enhances collaboration throughout each department. A manufacturing organization can develop a customized synergistic flow of data throughout its entire infrastructure, including its machine operators, engineers, quality control department and other facets of the company.

Improve quality and safety: When manufacturing companies install computerized sensors on assembly lines, this allows for data to be generated that can be used in such a way that enables the quality and safety of the manufacturing processes to be greatly improved. Take, for example, vehicle manufacturers that use data collected from these sensors to weed out bad products; the data collected enables the manufactures to improve the quality of the vehicles being produced.

Understanding the True Benefits of Big Data in the Manufacturing Industry

Even the best of the best manufacturing companies that use big data and data lakes to improve their operations are seeing firsthand improvements beyond their wildest dreams. Take, for example, the established European company that manufactures specialty chemicals for a wide range of industries, including metalworking and paper. Boasting exceptional process improvement since the 1960s, the company constantly yielded outcomes that were above the industry benchmarks. And while some specialists were skeptical that the plant had any room for improvement, neural-network techniques taking advantage of big data showed that great room for improvement actually existed.

Various points of data were examined, including those related to carbon dioxide flow, coolant pressures, quantity of products used in the manufacturing process, temperatures and more. A detailed analysis showed how a relatively high number of unseen sensitivities in the involved process was leading to a significant reduction in the number of products yielded. To overcome this reduction, a simple alteration to the parameters reduced the company’s waste of raw materials by 20 percent. This alternation also led to cutting manufacturing energy costs by 15 percent. Without big data analytics, none of this would have been possible.

The Takeaway

If your manufacturing company has yet to take advantage of big data, now is the time. First, you need to identify which data is relevant, followed by then implementing an analytical software program that can be integrated with all of your functions. The analyses that you can perform after implementing this software will lead to effective solutions for decreasing downtime and increasing profit levels. Thanks to big data, you will then finally be enjoying the transformation that is taking place in the manufacturing industry.


Rick Delgado is a technology commentator and freelance writer.


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