Research & Best Practices

How to Become A Data-Driven Manufacturer

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Modern technology allows successful organizations to focus their strategies on data-driven decision making. With the availability of so much data — and the tools — to make sense of it, any business that ignores how data can impact operations and processes is leaving improvements and efficiencies on the table.

What is data-driven manufacturing? It is the practice of making process decisions based on data, as opposed to gut feelings, common wisdom, historical best practices, and even generalized manufacturer recommendations that are based on average data not the real performance of the equipment in your facility. Data in manufacturing is a powerful tool that can boost profit margins, streamline maintenance and productivity, increase uptime and productivity, and transform your facility operations.

Data in manufacturing is primarily acquired through equipment sensors, which record massive amounts of information about machine and process performance, status, and quality. Sensors may measure vibration, temperature, alignment, calibration and more — all continuously and in real-time. This data is, however, not that useful without manufacturing data analysis, which is the process of synthesizing collected data into actionable information.

Data analysis in the manufacturing industry is the crux of data-driven manufacturing, as it provides historical benchmarks and actionable real-time assessments by which highly effective decisions can be made. With this data, manufacturing can be transformed into a more productive, efficient process. Data analysis enables predictive and proactive maintenance, more effective preventive maintenance, on-the-fly equipment adjustments for optimal quality and performance, and more. Data-driven manufacturing is facilitated by some of the most advanced technology in the field, including IIoT. Thus, there are often-unprecedented results.

Personally and professionally in business, data for manufacturing informs many day-to-day functions and plays a major role in big-picture decisions. In the industrial sector, data-driven manufacturing is a prevalent practice – and one that is well worth the technology investment. For example, a single manufacturing facility can execute hundreds to thousands of operational processes per day. That’s a lot of data that can be collected and be put to good use, but at the same time be extremely overwhelming. So you are probably wondering – how do I make sense of and effectively utilize this data?

Intelligence Manufacturing: How to Use the Data You Collect

In order to become a data-driven manufacturer, you have to not only have the capability to collect information from your machines, but also know how to use that data to make informed decisions. As mentioned above, the amount of data that can be collected in a manufacturing facility is massive. Below, we’ll look at the “whys” and “hows” of collecting and using data to increase the productivity, efficiency and results of your manufacturing operations.

  • Data-driven manufacturing can improve production efficiency: By collecting and analyzing data from manufacturing processes, you can identify areas where production volume or expected quality slipped below the acceptable baseline. From there, you can identify common factors that could help you determine why these inefficiencies occurred.
  • Intelligence can improve repair and maintenance efficiency: Collecting and actively reviewing data from machinery operations can help you proactively identify maintenance issues before they occur. In the short term, this gives you the benefit of more predictability and control over production downtime. Long term, with enough data on hand, you can schedule maintenance more efficiently and optimize your MRO processes.
  • Streamlined data entry and storage: By committing to data-driven manufacturing, you must, by necessity, standardize data collection processes (more on that shortly). By doing so, you will inherently streamline all processes around your data, easing the burdens of ad-hoc, manual data entry and processing.

Now that we’ve looked at the benefits of data-driven decision making, we’ll explain how you can put it into practice and become a true leading manufacturer. Obtaining the right equipment is the first step — whether through machinery with data collection and connectivity functionality built-in or by retrofitting existing machines with sensors. Connectivity is the second key component. Wireless or wired, your data collection tools should seamlessly transmit data to centralized storage for further analysis. Analysis is the final piece of the puzzle. With so much data on hand, the potential is vast, but additional training, and potentially more personnel, may be required to realize the full benefits that will be well worth your investment.

Do you want to become a data-driven manufacturer but are not sure where to start? We can help. With over three decades of experience in industrial maintenance, ATS has the people, processes and technologies to capture, analyze and improve key performance indicators for optimal production productivity. For more information, contact us today.

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