OpScoop Issue 4: BIGDATA : Changing the Manufacturing Landscape

Big data has the potential to transcend the entire manufacturing industry by realizing improvements in output given the present process complexity, variability and capacity restraints.

With its foundation grounded in years of mathematical research and scientific application, it is one formidable tool that has the power to completely transform manufacturing as we know of it today.

Applying statistical and mathematical tools to day-to-day business data can help us assess and improve existing practices. Operations managers can sieve through historical process data, identify relationships amongst inputs and process steps and then go on to achieve the optimal level to have a considerable and positive impact on yield.

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The colossal roadblock, however, that businesses face is their current practices. Most firms collect tons of process data, but they use these only for tracking purposes. Furthermore, they lack the skills and technology required to translate these enormous volumes of data into meaningful information which is a prerequisite for analysis and establishing relationships and spotting patterns.

Others those have long production cycles (few months long or even a year) face the crisis of data scarcity. This dearth of process related data can only be overcome if the companies invest more to gather information about the important and complicated processes (i.e., instead of the entire operation, gather information about the complex processes that take place multiple times in one cycle). This would make the data statistically meaningful and help analysts draw insightful deductions.

Big data’s impact on manufacturing is augmenting with each passing day. It ensures higher accuracy, quality and yield of production facilities by improving manufacturing process. The increased integration of IT, manufacturing and operational systems is paving way to make the vision Industrie 4.0 a reality.

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By pin-pointing the most profitable build-to-order product that impact existing production the least, advanced analytics opens the world of myriad customized product options that companies can go ahead with. Also, sophisticated analytical tools enable us to make better forecasts thereby cutting down on wastes and increasing quality levels.

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