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What Are We Looking At?

Big Data
September 26, 2023

Driving in conditions of low visibility is never a good idea. Like a blinding snowstorm in gusty winds, millions of flakes obscure your view until you can’t see what is in front of you. First, you lose sight of the lines in the road. Then, you lose the definition of where the road even is until an unfortunate decision due to lack of visibility leads to disaster.

You wouldn’t want to drive your car in those conditions, yet many manufacturers are settling for such a lack of visibility in their operations. But what leads to that level of difficulty? And what can be done about it?

Bad Data

Few companies these days have a fully manual data collection system for analysis. But that doesn’t mean the remaining manual part is any less dangerous. Forms, spreadsheets, tags, and other archaic processes still knock operations off the road when the data is bad. And they are still subject to issues like bias, data entry error or omission, and flawed human analysis.


Other companies have invested heavily in software, thinking it will help them see through the snowflakes. But just like different languages have different words for snow, silos separate departments and prevent standardized data from reaching everyone who needs it because everyone has a different definition, measurement, and tool for the same thing. Despite being part of the same operation, quality, production, scheduling, finance, and purchasing often run off different systems, limiting visibility at the highest levels.


Some companies think they’ve figured it out a little further down the road, vowing to break the silos and link their data across the enterprise. But here, too, lies a threat to operational visibility. Some of the software tools within those silos is outdated, other software is new, some is cloud-based, and some is standalone. And while the desire is there, visibility is still eluding these well-intentioned manufacturers.

The Link Between Visibility and Decision-Making

Many leaders don’t realize until the car is in the ditch that there is an intrinsic link between operational visibility and effective, accurate decision-making. If the data is bad, silos prevent collaboration and data sharing, or if software has little to no interoperability, the right decisions just can’t be made.

The ability to see further down the road and in all directions means they can make the best decisions for the operation. And that real-time visibility will deliver benefits across the entire company, including:

  • Process Improvement – Analytical insights allow teams to identify, improve, and optimize processes.
  • Compliance – Regulatory burdens are no longer paper-driven, and immediate updates and identification of problems mean fewer compliance failures.
  •  Production Processes – Critical production data can be leveraged alongside powerful analytics to understand, manage, and fix issues as they arise.
  • Labor Utilization – Because all departments operate under a single version of the truth, empowering your workforce can improve performance and productivity.
  • Material – Linking purchasing, planning, scheduling, and inventory with production drives material visibility from the shop floor level to the supply chain and beyond. Order quantities, delivery dates, lead times, and other material costs are reduced in a fully visible operation.

Regaining Visibility of the Road

No one wants to be blind and out of control of their car or company. Having a single source of truth from the floor level through the executive suite creates a visibility that empowers employees and sharpens decision-making.

Plex ERP is an agile and seamless smart manufacturing solution that puts visibility for all operational departments in one place. It ties production, supply chain, finance, and other vital areas together with real-time data and analysis to let you automate workflows, track procurement, production, and delivery at the granular level, and deliver context-rich insights highlighting improvement areas that allow you to optimize processes. In other words, it has the potential to improve your KPIs that matter most.

To make your entire enterprise more connected, transparent, and optimized, learn more about Plex ERP here.

About the Author

Plex Team

Plex Systems, Inc., a Rockwell Automation company, is the leader in cloud-delivered smart manufacturing solutions, empowering the world’s manufacturers to make awesome products. Our platform gives manufacturers the ability to connect, automate, track and analyze every aspect of their business to drive transformation. The Plex Smart Manufacturing Platform includes solutions for manufacturing execution (MES), ERP, quality, supply chain planning and management, Industrial IoT and analytics to connect people, systems, machines, and supply chains, enabling them to lead with precision, efficiency and agility.