Modern Manufacturing: 4 Ways Data is Transforming the Industry

More than ever, the manufacturing industry is challenged with corralling and understanding massive amounts of data to drive operational efficiencies, higher levels of service, and support.

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Modern Manufacturing: 4 Ways Data is Transforming the Industry Data Rich, Information Poor More than ever, the manufacturing industry is challenged with corralling and understanding massive amounts of data to drive operational efficiencies, higher levels of service, and support. Like it or not, manufacturing is moving faster, and the good-enough status quo is fading as old business systems no longer supply decision-makers with need-to-know information. “There’s a lot of resistance coming from manufacturing. We resist change because we don’t know what we don’t know. So transforming the mess of data that we routinely collect into a useful asset really has to be a process. It has to be a very very focused and considered process.” Dan Meier, operations manager at Photoronics, Inc. In today’s marketplace, exploring the impact and interplay across production efficiency, product quality, customer demand, and service excellence simply isn't possible without meaningful analytics. Here are four ways leading manufacturers are revolutionizing their industry with data: 1. Improving Production, Plant Performance and Product with Self-Service Analytics 2. Enhancing Sales and Operations Planning with Data blending and Forecasting 3. Mobilizing Supply Chain with Real-time Analytics 4. Listening, Interpreting and Reacting to Customer Feedback Faster 1. Improving Production, Plant Performance and Product with Self-Service People within manufacturing have traditionally accessed data insights via static reports from enterprise applications and business intelligence tools, all managed and used only by the IT department. This old way, predominantly designed and built in the 1990s, is generally complex, inflexible, and time-consuming. Because the best analytics implementations are user-created dashboards running on top of IT-managed infrastructure, optimization for self-service is key. Self-service analytics will empower individual manufacturing employees and entire organizations alike to see and understand data across the demand chain, within production operations and throughout the entire service life cycle. With added visibility into operational performance, employees will be able to monitor data throughout the entire organization and apply it to strive for continuous business and process improvements via the philosophies of six sigma or lean principles. Self-service also supports the implementation of the DMAIC framework to support a data-driven improvement cycle allowing an individual to explore and identify the root cause of product defects or bottlenecks. Tesla Motors Designs, a major manufacturer of electric vehicles and powertrain components, found that self-service analytics empowered its employees to explore their own data—and contributed greatly to their discoveries about production improvement and stabilization. “Once you start giving access to data to people, they start asking more questions. And there’s the ability to kind of dig deeper. If you're trying to root- cause some nagging issue that's been kind of hurting production for weeks or months, looking into that data and seeing things we've never seen before has been a big win.” Will Bishop, senior test engineer at Tesla. This dashboard is an example of process and production analysis where users can explore the performance of a few dozen orders filled by a manufacturer using two machines. Users can browse through the orders that were filled on the left and see how well the production actually ran by bringing together several data sets on a single dashboard. The bullet graph depicts the major metrics that affect production (setup, downtime, run speed). Note how the differences in variance trend between the two machines. Why is Machine 123 running better than Machine 456? Click the dashboard to interact with this visualization and find out. This manufacturing dashboard lets users choose a facility by clicking on the map to see detailed defect information for that facility in the top right view. In the lower right view you can see production (bars) and defects (circles) at that facility over time. Notice how high defect counts generally lead to lower production levels in the days immediately following the defect. Click the dashboard to interact with this visualization and learn more. 2. Enhancing Sales and Operations Planning with Data Blending and Forecasting Big improvements in manufacturing must start from the source—the supply chain. It’s critical that every supply chain professional be able to deliver goods and services using disparate information systems on tight deadlines. Manufacturers today are faced with many sources of data: workforce and order planning from the ERP system, order information from MES systems, time and attendance logs, alarm and production data from different equipment manufacturers, and various PLC and SCADA systems. Linking these islands of information is key for understanding the big picture and decision-making. In this visualization, a forecasting model can expose critical problems and opportunities with an easy-to-use calculation window. Users can choose various modeling methods such as “Aggressive”, “Deterministic”, or “Cost Optimization.” These are bespoke calculations and can be built by your organization, allowing for flexibility to model the specifics of your business. 3. Mobilizing Supply Chain with Real-time Analytics Even more revolutionary in supply chain operations is the ability to see and understand what is happening with data in real-time, and from a mobile device. Manufacturing data is constantly changing but immediately relevant. Using data at the right time is vital to a more profitable operation. The good news? Mobile business intelligence is finally providing information when and where it’s needed to make fast, business-critical decisions. The Coca-Cola Bottling Co. Consolidated (CCBCC), the largest independent Coca-Cola bottling firm in the U.S., has workers on the ground interacting and collaborating with visual dashboards from anywhere—even truck drivers in different cities. The CCBCC solved a huge bottleneck in their supply chain, due to limited report availability, by providing leaders and more than 800 employees with daily dashboard updates on mobile devices. This daily Field Operations Dashboard is primarily used by truck drivers making the actual case and product deliveries. Truck drivers need to know where the most profitable, most efficient deliveries can be made, and not spend days and hours solving that puzzle. This dashboard is broken down into various areas of need such as invoices, delivery performance, and timelines for product delivery. It also has the ability to drill down into underlying data to explore specific information in territories and branches. “With the ability to be mobile, now delivery workers have the option to be on the truck, looking at their iPad, understanding how they’re doing when they are driving to a certain location or route they are on.” Kevin King, director of reporting and analytics at CCBCC 4. Listening, Interpreting and Reacting to Customer Feedback Faster At the end of the day, the desires and needs of the customer matter. Manufacturers need to collect customer data by listening to many different channels such as social media, call centers and customer surveys. When finding insights from customer information, speed to action is fundamental. Trane, a global leader in air conditioning systems and equipment, made the shift from exclusively using spreadsheets to integrating self-service data visualizations with customer service data to significantly improve their speed to insight. The turn around times from data insights to customer happiness are now 10 to 100 faster. “We need to listen, and we need to interpret that data. And we want to quickly react in two ways. We want to react directly by responding to our customers. We also want to react as a business and strategically determine what is important to our customers.” Michael Nealy, senior customer analyst from Trane. With data visualization, Trane tracks key metrics to score customer feedback faster. They’re able to dig into their data to find answers, for example, do technicians arrive on time in a certain region? Sales employees, manufacturing employees and executives can all see very quickly the top and bottom performing districts, as well as drill down to the underlying data to find out why. “We’re able to identify opportunities to figure out which of those sales offices and districts could do better. And our customers are having a better experience as a result,” Nealy said. Integrating data visualization into your manufacturing systems and processes is easier than you think. Tableau Software helps people see and understand data no matter how big it is, or how many systems it is stored in. Quickly connect, blend, visualize and share data dashboards with a seamless experience from the PC to the iPad. Create and publish dashboards with automatic data updates, and share them with colleagues, partners or customers—no programming skills required. 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