Digitisation is not rocket science: Start with the problem, then develop accessible data solutions

Posted on 7 Jun 2018 by The Manufacturer

Many are talking a great Industry 4.0 game, but few are playing it. Nick Frank and Dr Eric Topham, of The Manufacturer’s networked expert advisory team, explain.

Executives gathered to discuss how best to take advantage of and leverage the power of digital technology at Industrial Data Summit.
In April, Industrial Data Summit gathered almost 100 executive decision-makers to discuss how best to take advantage of and leverage the power of digital technology.

At this year’s Industrial Data Summit, we met with Agfa Graphics’ Leeds site manager, Graham Cooper, and production manager, Charles Meldrum. The pair told us of a 15-year story of how they transformed their manufacturing site through data-driven problem solving.

In 2001, faced with a re-organisation, the site had to find new ways to manage in-process quality or face possible closure. They knew their complex manufacturing process had more than 8,000 digital inputs, but had never really used this resource.

Using some basic visualisation tools that already existed in the Data Historian, they began to visualise how the material flowed through the plant.

They could see how key performance variables such as energy, flow and acidity varied along the manufacturing process and started to see patterns in the plant operating characteristics. This not only allowed them to manage their process, but to also identify extremely obscure problems that had always existed, but which the route cause never identified.

In time, their understanding of how the plant operated in terms of the data it generated became so good, they were able to identify and solve problems both up and down stream of their plant

More profoundly, their culture and understanding of data moved to a point where they are ready to leverage advanced analytics to reach the next level of improvement. Agfa Graphics is a good example of how leveraging data is actually not so much about the analytics technology, it is much more about the mindset.

Many solution providers and consultants seem to overlook this fact and have succeeded in over complicating the problem and confusing the industry with jargon

This is a key reasons that the Manufacturer’s Hennik Edge has teamed up with The Data Analysis Bureau to develop a one-day seminar series to help manufacturers Learn the Science of Monetising Data through Services.

If you would like to find out more, you can register through this link to Learn the Science of Monetising Data through Services.

A common misconception is that simply collecting data and applying a self-learning algorithm will reveal insights that will change business. This is simply not the reality. In fact, critical to success is first to define the business problem to work on, and then creating the data solution.

Our goal is to provide manufacturing leaders with a pragmatic step by step process, which demystifies the jargon to bring real practical results. Attendees will be taken through a step by step analysis of their specific business such that they will develop their own roadmap to success.

First, they will learn to articulate their business problem in terms of value and performance measures. Then, they will learn how to turn the business problem into a business data hypothesis that the data solution must solve.  The next step to defining the data problem is to understand the data maturity and approach using commonly recognised properties called ‘the four Vs’: Volume, Variety, Velocity & Veracity.

This allows the identification of the most suitable analytical techniques, as well as identifying organisational and capability gaps in the organisation. In developing a solution, it is important to plan for piloting before scaling up. And finally, attendees will have a chance to develop their own roadmap together with the experts in the room, that will get them on a pragmatic and realistic route to leveraging digital technologies to drive excellence.