Using big data to improve production and business systems is no longer just a choice—it is essential to modern manufacturing.
Big data has changed the way many businesses across a large number of industries do business—the ability to capture huge volumes of data, interpret it and learn from it has been remarkably beneficial to companies of all sizes. And nowhere has it been more important to a company’s success than in the manufacturing sector. Using big data to improve production and business systems is no longer just a choice—it is essential to modern manufacturing.
The truest value of big data usage in manufacturing comes in the area of optimization—this is where all manufacturing is moving, both today and in the near future. Big data is used in quality control and product yield, and success springs from there for the manufacturer. And it begins with optimizing the way that particular company goes about its business.
As an example, let’s say a manufacturer works in the pharmaceutical industry and is currently working on vaccines in the race to find a cure for COVID-19. That company uses statistical process controls to ensure the product meets the numerous guidelines and standards to which it must adhere, and this is done by taking a sample of a large amount of data to make sure the yielded product falls within specific control limits (such as various chemical attributes that are essential to success in this field).
Testing is essential to this entire process, and data needs to be collected to administer those tests. And it isn’t just testing a finished product; rather, it is a system of testing that takes place at every step in the process—otherwise, if we are testing only at the end, and find that the produced vaccine is ineffective, the entire batch would need to be scrapped and begun again. Instead, capturing and analyzing big data throughout improves both the yield and quality of the product, and that results in a much higher level of optimization for the manufacturer.
Another area where big data is changing the face of manufacturing is through predictive maintenance of the various machines and equipment used in development and production. Today’s machines all have sensors attached to them that determine how efficient they are operating and whether they are in danger of overheating, shutting down or causing some other form of interruption. Predictive maintenance uses sensor data to ascertain when machines need servicing—the data is compiled and can determine when certain machines need to be taken offline for maintenance or improvement. Think about production schedules and the demanding deadlines so many manufacturers find themselves required to meet. Big data provides a major advantage by ensuring machines keep running and customer demands are met.
One common denominator across manufacturers is the detailed process each must go through in every aspect of their operations. To optimize these complexities, data needs to be collected from machines at every step of those processes to determine effectiveness and success. This allows the company to arrive at analytical models that can literally gauge the profitability of each particular machine.
Big data is allowing manufacturers to learn things about themselves, to improve and optimize their processes and production in ways that seemed unimaginable a decade ago. It has changed the modern manufacturing game for the better for any businesses that utilize big data and build it into their overall company culture.