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Put yourself in the mindset of settlers from long ago exploring a new landscape. As they started each new day, their effort to understand what was beyond the horizon faced a manual and labor-intensive process. Several scouts would head off in different directions, hoping it was the right path to answers. They had to endure harsh conditions, uneven terrain, obstacles like rivers and mountains, predators, and many other challenges.
The process was also time-consuming. While the scouts were looking for answers beyond the horizon, the rest of the settlers could only wait. Only when the scouts returned with a report could the decision-making process begin about what to do and which direction to travel next. And often, by the time they arrived, conditions had changed again, prompting another round of scouting.
As 2024 begins, it’s a relevant metaphor for manufacturers to consider. Like the scouts in that traditional process, what is missing in many operations is data, specifically real-time data, and the analytical capabilities to process it quickly.
Like trackers of old, many manufacturing managers rely on fragmented information coming in from the field (in this case, the factory floor), delivered late by others within the organization who have only the data from their most recent data collection excursion.
Manual data collection and siloed processes lead to inaccurate KPIs, error-prone data entry, and omissions. And just as one scout might report the number of obstacles ahead as a "few" while another declares "dozens," manually collected contextual data in manufacturing such as "jam" and "fault" may point to the same problem, or it may not, obscuring the decision-making process.
Today, there are a host of technologies to "see" over the horizon. Drones, satellites, cameras, robotics, and other smart technology send instant real-time insights to modern explorers who can decide immediately how to proceed.
This same level of precision is available to manufacturing companies in the form of smart manufacturing platforms. With real-time data and analysis, there is no need for the "scout" method to track a lone process. Factory assets connected to the platform send data for analysis to generate actionable insights. This creates visibility beyond the production, planning, and demand horizon.
There are many benefits provided by real-time visibility in manufacturing:
It’s time to stop sending scouts off to explore your operations only to come back with error-prone, time-delayed information. Smart manufacturing technology is the solution that will modernize your organization and provide that clearer view of 2024 that you’ve been looking for. For more on the impact of missing production data and how modern solutions can help, read the related article Where Did My Production Data Go?