IoT and Big Data are transforming the face of manufacturing. Here’s what you need to know to keep up
The importance of big data in the 21st century cannot be overstated. A sector that comprised more than four million data scientists in 2015, the niche has grown from extremely limited usage in the beginning to the modern standard in data collection and processing. Big data is now applied in nearly every industry, including manufacturing, bolstering productivity, driving communications and maintaining competitiveness.
Strengthening the supply chain
Manufacturers across the globe are adopting big data to strengthen their supply chains. By collating data from multiple sources, comparing data to past benchmarks and forecasting future needs, manufacturers can achieve greater efficiency and accuracy throughout the entire chain.
Greater visibility, transparency and traceability are additional selling points of big data. With the ability to monitor the movement of raw materials, scrutinize production phases and direct communications to the appropriate personnel, manufacturers are able to ensure quality, consistency and customer service.
Improving the flow of information
Big data is all about communications. While some face-to-face interaction is required, the brunt of big data is handled by automated sensors and processed by highly advanced algorithms. These processes, which are made possible through the Internet of Things (IoT), are ushering in a new level of communications within the modern factory.
A typical scenario involves collecting data via a sensor, transmitting it through the IoT and translating the information through advanced computer servers and systems. Such data can be used to organize predictive maintenance and prevent machinery breakdowns, adjust production output levels to match peak demands or forecast future needs. Given its current, evolving state, as well as its future potential, the possibilities for big data are limitless.
Introducing Big Data to the modern workforce
The manufacturing industry is one that is often steeped in tradition, especially when working with a veteran workforce. While millennials and those who have yet to establish a career in manufacturing will be more open to big data and IoT integration, staff members who prefer the tried-and-true methods might show some hesitation. In this case, it’s important to illustrate how big data can be used to make their jobs more productive, enjoyable and, most importantly, easier.
Case studies from other companies, including the competition, can make convincing arguments in favor of big data collection and processing. When senior-level officials see how another manufacturer is benefitting from big data, they’re more likely to respond in kind.
If necessary, provide hands-on training to employees who are reluctant to embrace big data. Some local college campuses and institutions are starting to offer classes, but these are typically geared toward those who are trying to make a career in big data. When it comes to introducing the general employee population, a short primer or orientation will usually suffice.
Try to demonstrate how your company has benefitted from past technological innovations and upgrades. If your company was around prior to the internet boom, you can use these statistics to demonstrate growth via the World Wide Web. Even the rise of mobile communications and their effect on your own workforce can be used to illustrate the point.
Making the case for Big Data and IoT
The scope and scale of both big data and the IoT are enough to scare away many novice workers, including those who would rather stick to tradition. Given the growing emphasis on big data in all professions, including manufacturing, it won’t be long before the trend becomes a permanent fixture in the industry. Those who take the time to familiarize their employees with the benefits of big data will be better poised to embrace future innovations and upgrades while their competition lags behind.