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Fictron Industrial Supplies Sdn Bhd
Fictron Industrial Supplies Sdn Bhd

Three Innovative Uses of Data in the Manufacturing Industry


According to the 4th annual State of Manufacturing Technology Report, the use of analytics and data is predicted to progress over the next five years. As the level of connectivity and digitalization is still growing during the fourth industrial revolution, manufacturers will be able to connect and integrate all pieces of their business: from materials planning and logistics to shop floor output and training. The obvious byproduct is the generation of more and more data. Nonetheless, simply hoarding data is not only ineffective, it's expensive. Manufacturers need to make that data earn its keep!
Applying Data in an Inventive Way
Among the numerous ways data can be used, three stand out in particular.
1.            Improving Inventory Management
One of the worthwhile ways data can be leveraged is to optimise inventory management by predicting and managing demand. In accordance with the Institute of Supply Management, in February 2019, customer inventories were considered very low for 29 consecutive months, reaching “their lowest level since December 2010” and signifying that the industry is trying to cope to understand and keep up with incoming demand.
Katie Kean, a global consumer industry CTO, argues that as a way to “meet the needs of the consumer even before they know they want it, technology is needed to combine multiple types of data — from both inside and outside of the organization to uncover new, actionable insights.” proficiently managing inventory will impact your bottom line, preventing wasted resources with too much inventory and poor customer experiences with too little inventory.
Manufacturers could also gain a competitive advantage with smarter inventory strategies guided by data. For example, by tracking your current assets and collecting information about the types of products available, average number of days on the floor and where products are transported you can establish models to project customer demand. It is a lot simpler - and more worthwhile - to base shipping decisions on data rather than gut feeling.
2.            Engaging your Employees
A recent report from Deloitte unveiled that the number of unfilled jobs in the manufacturing industry could grow to as many as 2.4 million in the next decade, leading to a possible .5 trillion loss for the industry.
Given this shortfall, it’s incumbent on manufacturers to use data to boost employee engagement, productivity, and recognition. Organizations many times believe that simply offering rewards for better performance will keep employees satisfied but blindly applying feedback mechanisms without an understanding of your workers and how they work has proven ineffective, says Michael Wu, chief scientist at Lithium Technologies. However, with access to vast oceans of data, you can analyze which areas of the business need development and how exactly to drive a workforce’s intrinsic competitive nature to drive efficiency and productivity across the floor.
Like for example, with data as simple as shop floor output, you can discover who the top performers are and who is coming up short. By leveraging the results, you can hold a training session where the top performer can give guidance as to where improvements can be made. This in addition increases efficiency on the floor and, just as importantly, provides recognition to someone who has done well.
3.            Ensuring Safety on the Manufacturing Floor
More than 100,000 manufacturing workers are injured on the job on a yearly basis; the most common accidents include coming into contact with machinery or falling down. While not all injuries can be avoided, you can strengthen staff to take safety into their own hands with data. Data provides manufacturers the opportunity to greatly help their workforces understand best practices around safety by finding patterns in the history of past occurences and accounting for that in training material.
When organizations require to spend less, a lot of the changes made affect workers’ safety. Damages result not merely in direct costs, such as medical expenses and indemnity pay, but also indirect costs, such as plant floor interruptions, which can account for anywhere between three to ten times an accident’s direct costs. Taking the time to enforce best practices regarding safety improves profits, grows productivity and creates a better workplace. Better data allows you to do just that.
Manufacturers have a big opportunity to benefit from data-based insights. Those that can analyze and leverage data will be able to make better decisions that propel their organizations to success in a highly competitive climate.
Investing in Data-Driven Initiatives
Only 18 percent of participants in a recent PwC research rated their data analytics capabilities as “advanced,” which means there is still a long way to go before the majority of the manufacturing industry can use data analytics effectively. This is important to see that data-based innovations must be deployed in a collaborative process across departments if business processes are to be transformed. New tools and analytics could be useful but they will fail otherwise supported by initiatives that are endorsed by the entire organization.
The hard truth is that manufacturers who fail to invest in data analytics will fall behind and in the course of time become outdated. The manufacturing industry will continue to undergo digital transformation well into the future, so your best bet is to fully embrace the coming changes as data-driven insights shape the future of the industry.
This article is originally posted on
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Fictron Industrial Supplies Sdn Bhd
5-6, Jalan USJ 9/5Q, Subang Business Centre, 47620 UEP Subang Jaya, Selangor, Malaysia.



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