Unleashing Big Data in Manufacturing

Manufacturing contributes $2 trillion to the U.S. economy, and according to IndustryWeek, more than half of manufacturing leaders expect revenues to grow 5 percent or more each year over the next five years.

At the center of this growth and productivity is innovation. Manufacturers everywhere are investing in modernized warehouses and plant floors, leveraging advancements in technology to streamline production. Companies are moving to robotics, 3D vision, and Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT).

Big data, unfortunately, remains a largely untapped reservoir for manufacturing growth. Manufacturers are adept at amassing data, but it remains a challenging to get immediate, predictive, enterprise-wide, fully integrated, accurate, and meaningful information delivered to the right people at the right time. There’s so much data available and it’s often stuck in organizational silos. Many manufacturers struggle to even understand and define the KPIs that drive their businesses and determine their success.

Having a global operation complicates the ability to deliver meaningful data. Companies have people, warehouses, factories, offices, and other assets. Tracking the performance of each one and tracking the downstream impact on others’ performance is absolutely critical, and complicated. There are variables that impact a company’s ability to deliver including weather, vacation schedules, social unrest, ocean currents, unions, equipment failures, network outages, and people.

So What’s Next?

The next frontier in manufacturing growth will include improved data analytics or real-time data visualizations that streamline manufacturing and supply chain processes. Solutions like Hubble ensure that company leaders have all of the relevant information in order to make the correct decisions and adjust strategies. No more digging through mountains of paper and volumes of reports. Predictive alerts and clear visualizations presented in real-time on any device enable companies to implement backup plans and mitigate potential risks before they happen.

Strategically designed alerts inform managers and executives of important factors such as waste spikes, overdue maintenance, production lags, material shortages, quality declines, and overtime labor hours. They also alert decision makers when there’s good news (like when on-time performance is at an all-time high). Having this data allows companies to drill into larger questions like how much inventory is in stock, where is it, how old is it, the value of it, supplier performance, the next receipt date, how many labor hours are needed to produce it, etc.

Big data can also assist with sales forecasts. Sales forecasts push a company what to buy, when to buy it, how much to make, how much to store, and how much to ship. They drive the budget, not just revenue and COGS, but also payroll, marketing, finance, and even overhead.

Sales teams must be provided with tools to more simply and accurately forecast unit quantities. Clear visualizations provide sales with immediate, real-time access to analytics to take the effort and guesswork out of forecasting. Sales trends, product lifecycle status, market analysis, seasonality, and customer scorecards provide sales teams with the fast and simple data required to create accurate forecasts. Alerts inform them when key drivers such as customer credit risks, production delays, and quality issues drive changes to the forecast. The visualizations are aligned and integrated with user-friendly input screens for simple entry and adjustment. Financial statements and operations plans are automatically updated to reflect the most current and accurate forecasts.

A unified platform like Hubble, which integrates supply-demand planning and sales forecasting with advanced data visualization, can help manufacturing enterprises take their enterprise-wide growth to the next level. Digital data visualization can increase agility and generate higher levels of value by dramatically altering how manufacturers source, make, move, and service their products.