Data: An Untapped and Underutilized Resource

April 11, 2016
Though there’s a lot of hype surrounding the Industrial Internet of Things and Big Data, there’s good reason for it—return on investment.

There is a lot of hype surrounding terms like Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), Big Data and data analytics. While hype and promise are abundant, clarity and practicality are lacking. How do I extract the value of my firm’s most under-leveraged resource, data?

Hype surrounding an industry disruptor is not uncommon. The term “automation” broke through in the 1930s/40s, and is now used regularly. The same will come true for “data curation,” defined as facilitating data to become actionable and most valuable, or a similar term to describe the transition from Industry 3.0 to 4.0.

The reason for recent hype and attention to topics such as IIoT, Big Data and data analytics is simple: return on investment (ROI). Computing power, smart devices, storage, bandwidth, software capabilities, security, analytical tools, etc., are all becoming cheaper and more relevant. These tools enable the ability to curate data and gain actionable insight within a required timeframe to become most valuable.

As the ability to curate data gets cheaper, there continues to be a need for a strategic plan to use curation technologies in your plant. Metcalfe’s Law is in effect when it comes to connected devices, emphasizing that there’s an exponential growth of value to the number of connected devices. However, past a certain number of connected devices, ROI will diminish, causing a bell curve for ROI. A mindset must be framed to seek one piece of insight at a time, starting small to know where you are and what you have, and to manage adoption effectively to achieve the most value.

In an effort to shift to practical application or use of data curation, we’ve come up with potentially underutilized abilities, hopefully shedding some light on the topic:

1. Increasing the quality and yield of production
2. Comparing performance metrics across multiple plants
3. Understanding the value of your suppliers
4. Production insight into product demand
5. Optimization of OEE
6. Disparate systems connectivity

Though there are numerous other applications for data curation, digging into these six points can help enable a mindset shift to viewing data as a high-value, underutilized resource and perhaps give direction for a starting point. Quality system integrators, like Interstates, strive to provide you with data curation solutions that produce deep insight into your manufacturing plant. To dig deeper into the practical uses of data, check out the full article.

Ben Whitley is business development coordinator at Interstates Control Systems Inc., a Certified member of the Control System Integrators Association. See Interstates’ profile on the Industrial Automation Exchange.

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