Using Big Data for Better Manufacturing Operations Intelligence

By TechZone360 Special Guest
Jordan Berkley, Director MES Product Management, Apriso
November 13, 2012

Having been in manufacturing for 20+ years, I have to admit I’m a little chagrinned at the term “big data” – the reason being that manufactures have long been generating and capturing a huge amount of data in the forms of product genealogy, traceability, equipment events, regulatory conformance, etc. But, I get it – data is growing at a far more rapid rate with a set of expectations that the intelligence “locked” into the data should be readily available. More “intelligent” equipment is spewing more data, and there’s greater participation across the supply network in fulfillment processes.

The real question is not how “big” your data is (and by the way, I’ve never heard a manufacturer use the term), but how your data enables faster, more intelligent decision support within an ever shrinking decision window.

I heard a statement this week while visiting some pretty sharp folks up in Boston that pointed out to me the incredible value of a small (but important) piece of data when it is available before an event versus 100 times the volume of data made available six months after the fact.

Today, executives and managers want help with agility, responsiveness and risk mitigation. Line of Business managers, especially those new managers that might have been recently promoted, expect and demand data “right now” so as to make smarter business decisions faster, within an ever shrinking decision window. As part of these expectations, combined with an inherent analytical mindset, they expect ease of use and the ability to quickly discover relationships and operational insight from the data themselves.

Visibility and speed are the order of the day. These folks aren’t going to wait for corporate IT to give them what they need.

Traditional Business Intelligence Solutions Don’t Work

Intelligence or visibility has the most value when the data is reliable, timely and role-based – and is delivered with the right business context. General business intelligence tools are fine for general business problems. But there’s a substantial effort to convert these solutions to expose operational intelligence in the right context. As a result, I have found that line of business folks are generally not well served by these applications.

Sure, there are vendors touting Enterprise Manufacturing Intelligence (EMI) solutions, but many users find that layering yet another application on top of a disparate set of operational point solutions just compounds the issue. Further, the applications that EMI tries to cull data from were never designed to support analytics or intelligence, so they often don’t have the required data anyway. What’s needed is something different. More and more, I’m coming to believe that using a separate operational intelligence platform from the operations execution platform just doesn’t work. Forget for a second about the IT implications; the real problem is that if you don’t adjust your manufacturing platform to provide the data that an operational intelligence solution needs, you’ll always come up short.

The Need to Combine Operations Intelligence with Execution

Fact is there’s data needed for analysis that just isn’t needed for execution. Take for example Slow Changing Dimensions, such as when an employee changes departments, or when existing equipment is reconfigured into a new product line. Execution just needs to be updated to the new identities and dependencies. The operational intelligence solution, however, needs to know the relationship between the old information and the new.

There are many other examples of data that execution doesn’t care about but intelligence fails without. 

If you continue to think of operational intelligence being separate or a “layer” you can add on to a manufacturing execution system, your chances increase that you will end up with “big data” but not the intelligent decision support you need to actually understand and use this valuable resource. Those that take a combined approach will be able to outmaneuver and outperform you, putting you at a disadvantage from your competition.


Jordan Berkley is responsible for providing strategic direction for product management of Apriso's FlexNet applications. Berkley brings over 15 years of business development, product management and sales experience to Apriso from an end user and IT solution provider's perspective. He is a frequent speaker on topics surrounding sustainability, product development and process improvement.

Berkley has a bachelor's in computer systems from the University of Illinois and a master's in business administration from the University of Washington.




Edited by Braden Becker


SHARE THIS ARTICLE
Related Articles

Cortana/Siri vs. Alexa & The Road To Robotic Post Smartphone Era

By: Rob Enderle    5/3/2016

Last week Microsoft made it clear that Cortana would only work with Microsoft's browser and search products making people question its cross platform …

Read More

Looking For The Next iPod/Echo

By: Rob Enderle    4/29/2016

The Amazon Echo, not the Apple Watch, became the last iPod-like product largely because of a far more accessible price point, a more compelling name, …

Read More

Apple Needs Reset, Not Elon Musk

By: Doug Mohney    4/29/2016

Apple's 13 percent sales decline and subsequent stock price drop this week has lead to the usual crazy talk about how to "fix" the company. Vivek Wadh…

Read More

Is the Apple Bubble Finally Bursting?

By: Andrew Bindelglass    4/28/2016

Over the past 13 years, Apple has been one of the most successful companies in the world of tech, posting sales growths in 51 straight quarters. That …

Read More

Shared-Space Providers (Airbnb) Poised to Beat Ride-Sharers (Uber)

By: Steve Anderson    4/28/2016

Travel may be starting to make a bit of a comeback, as a new report suggests that shared-space providers like Airbnb and WeWork are on the rise.

Read More