Big data has a role to play in any industry, but it offers some unique applications for the manufacturing industry. The ability to generate information about customers, production processes, and inventory means that manufacturers can make better decisions and improve their business overall – a process made that much easier with the integration of big data.

The following will provide an overview of just how big data can make a big impact for companies in the manufacturing sector.

Big Data in the Manufacturing Industry

Let’s start with an understanding of what big data is. Generally, big data is just that; a big set of data. The application for big data in the manufacturing industry is often related to sales projections/cyclical planning and production patterns to, for example, understand how those patterns might impact your business. 

Big Data can bring deeper meaning to trends such as cyclical upticks around certain time frames or around certain economic changes. Understanding these changes helps in manufacturing planning ahead to know when to put triggers in all of the systems.

More specifically, these triggers can allow you to preplan for a potential decline in demand so that you don’t over-purchase raw materials. Or, conversely, the data could give you leeway to pre-purchase those raw materials in order to meet a projected increase in demand that might be right around the corner.

Gaining knowledge through these big data sets can help in planning, marketing, and the purchasing and sales functions of the business. 

Types of Data That are Important in the Manufacturing Industry

Companies within the manufacturing industry have data that varies a little bit from universal business sets of data. Those data sets that are relevant for any business include:

  • Sales funnel
  • Lead generation process
  • Customer retention performs
  • Gross profit
  • Net profit

All of these are important numbers to know for any business. However for manufacturing specifically, the additional important data to understand extends to:

  • Production lead times
  • Inventory turnover rate (to know if you’re purchasing too much or too little)
  • Consistently having enough stock in place
  • Using manufacturing principles, such as just-in-time manufacturing

These data points are important to ensure that you have what you need exactly when you need it. This is the core principle of the just-in-time process of only having on hand what you need at any given time. 

Also, an understanding of these data sets can help you reach goals because they can help identify when there might be swings up or down in demand to plan accordingly. This can prevent large stocks of aging inventory or scrambling to catch up with an increase in sales. This leads to more efficient use of time and materials, helping your bottom line.

How Organizations within the Manufacturing Industry can Improve with Data

Manufacturing organizations can improve business with data by starting with an understanding of existing data. Many organizations don’t realize how many systems they have in place that are collecting data. This means you may already have a wealth of data at your fingertips you don’t have to pay extra money for.

The work comes into play when building an understanding of this data. For example:

  • How does it all work together? 
  • How does each piece impact the next step in the line? 
  • How do I understand the flow? 
  • How does a view of my website lead all the way down to a customer making his fifth sale?
  • What does that process look like? 

These are all the important questions to understanding your company’s data and improving from that data. Understanding the data brings it full circle to improving the organization as a whole. This can start with efficiencies, for example. This brings about the questions:

  • If I have a whole range of products, what is the time to complete the manufacturing of each individual product? 
  • Are certain processes more efficient than others?
  • If I have multiple machines doing the same thing, are there some that are running more efficiently than others? 

Understanding your data can provide answers to these important questions. When you have the answers to these questions you can know what to do is if something has an immediate turnaround, and what has to be completed to make sure requirements are met. 

In this example, data can answer when something has to be made now to be able to free up time on a specific machine that makes that specific product. Big data can help plan for this ahead of time. Additionally, understanding the actual uptime of those individual machines compared to their downtime can help leaders within the manufacturing organization make better business decisions based on data.

The great news is, all of this data already exists in your business! It’s just a matter of accessing it and analyzing it to get what the information is saying and to be able to know how to apply it to the business. 

Learn more about this in our Top 7 KPIs for Modern Manufacturing Blog.

Ready to learn more? Reach out to AuVis to chat with us, and learn more about how to make your data work for you.