Data and analytics: the next frontier for manufacturing

Posted on 14 Jul 2023 by The Manufacturer
Partner Content

Transformation is at the heart of manufacturing. As the backbone of economies all over the world for centuries, this industry has had to adapt and change to keep up with new developments in automation, labour practices, and technology. Data and analytics may be the next agent of change.

In almost every other industry, data and analytics have altered the way we do business in ways that seemed impossible just a few decades ago: the way publishers distribute information, the way banks buy and sell assets, and the way advertisers reach new audiences.

The average manufacturing operation employs anywhere from hundreds to thousands of employees, all working on different projects, in different departments, often in different locations. It’s nearly impossible to get that many people on the same page during a larger project, even in moments where synchronisation is most crucial. This scenario need not be inevitable, thanks to smart and data-driven business analytics.

Business insights make everyone’s job easier, telling them exactly what they need to know to accomplish their tasks to the best of their ability. More important, the information contained within this data will be consolidated and made uniform across the board, giving all personnel access to the same insights, ensuring that everyone is working towards the same goal.

Here are a few examples of how different business units benefit from optimised data and analytics:

Sales and marketing

Sales teams with access to social analytics and consumer data can identify pools of new potential clients. Statistical analysis can then be used for customer segmentation to enhance the effectiveness of new marketing efforts. Sales managers with access to this data can measure performance across different teams, regions, and customer pools; they can use this data to identify which areas their marketing budgets are best spent.

The data generated by sales can enable production teams to know exactly how much inventory they need to produce. Supply managers can use this knowledge to inform their relationships with suppliers and vendors, taking the guesswork out of how much to order and when.

Research and development

Analytics open the door to expanding the scope of your R&D. But instead of doing it in a silo, analytics allow you to pursue R&D in collaboration with suppliers and customers, eliminating the guesswork and ensuring better design-to-value margins. With this kind of deep and predictive analysis, you can identify exactly where the market is headed, and know exactly how you need to pivot to keep up.

Supply chain

Although sales and R&D insights can bring about product focus and optimised marketing spend, it is the supply chain and manufacturing floor that can really bring value from insights in these adverse times. With data-driven ERP solutions, you can gain new perspective on the inner workings of your supply chain, knowing how much and from whom to order critical materials while enabling a clearer picture of inventory levels.

Supplier analytics allow you to choose suppliers based on pricing, inventory, and potential environmental constraints. They also give you additional negotiation leverage, along with the ability to consolidate the supply chain across as few vendors and pricing models as possible.

Smart Factory

Although the Internet of Things (IoT)’s primary function has always been allowing users to communicate with their machines, business analytics allows the machines to communicate directly with you. Predictive analytics can tell you exactly how much greater output your system is capable of, where to add new production capabilities, how to better optimise your production layouts and scheduling, and where you could be cutting down on energy waste.

Finally, although addressing equipment failures has up to now been a measure of how fast you can react, the use of data takes the pressure off—it now becomes a measure of how far ahead you can predict. By interacting with each machine’s sensor, your ERP can tell you exactly which pieces of equipment are operating at diminished efficiency, and which ones need repairs far ahead of their ultimate breakdown.

Learn more here about the benefits of a data-driven ERP system and how it can transform your business.