Replacing Instinct with Data Analytics to Improve Production

Dec. 1, 2014
When all you're thinking is "show me the money," how often have you found yourself wanting, even demanding, more details and insight into what’s happening in your manufacturing plant?

“Show me the money” is the infamous quote from the 1996 movie Jerry Maguire, in which Tom Cruise’s character is demanding that he be shown results. Plant managers often have the same demands for information about systems and processes. Access to data and the ability to turn it into useful information could effectively “show you the money.”

Analytics is the process of collecting and extracting targeted data and then organizing this data to visualize and represent valuable information to businesses. Analytics is effective not only because we can use it to intelligently analyze past data, but we can also use statistical and quantitative methods to predict what will happen in the future—this is called predictive analytics.

Most plants have some kind of data collection taking place. It’s what happens with that data that gives it meaning. To make best use of data, decide what you want, gather what you need and then implement a tool that will sift through this collected data and help you make decisions that will impact your manufacturing process.

Data analytics tools will give you a more transparent understanding of what is happening on your manufacturing line with the ability to pull information from the plant floor and perform post-run analysis and predictive analysis. This combined set of information will lead you to intelligent decision making. Finally, think about how the information is best shared with the different stakeholders in the company. The same information is likely valuable for different teams, but how they act on that information could be different.

So why is it so important for you to consider implementing an analytics solution for your business? Most companies adjust processes to reduce waste and produce more efficiently. But once this is done, do they really understand why they are now running more efficiently? Taking the first step toward efficiency is possible without analytics. But, the next change and the change after that will be tougher to determine if you are not dialed-in to your process performance. Implementing analytics will give you a more transparent understanding of your line with the ability to pull information from the plant floor and perform post-run analysis and predictive analysis.

Think about this: What decisions could you make for your plant floor if you had better data? Would insight into historical data be helpful? If you could pull information in real time, would that help you make better production decisions?

Analytics give you support so you can be confident that decisions are made based on data, and less on “gut” feel. There’s always someone demanding you to “show me the money.” Analytics allows you to do just that.

Bilal Paracha is business intelligence lead at Interstates Control Systems Inc., a certified member of the Control System Integrators Association. See Interstates’ profile on the Industrial Automation Exchange by CSIA.

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