What Shop Floor Data Should You Collect?

  • Modern Manufacturing

As Industry 4.0 becomes more of a reality, smart manufacturers are looking for those precious insights promised by the industry analysts. But manufacturers have been collecting so much data for so long, it’s hard to know what to use and how to convert it into usable information.

Who needs what insights to address which challenge or to improve which business processes? Can the plant manager drive perfect order performance? Can the quality manager drive down scrap? What is the worry of the day for the CEO? For the CFO?

The plant manager might need data to understand how to improve efficiencies shift by shift. The C-suite might want to influence programs that impact profitability. Knowing how to contextualize the right streams of data to drive specific insights can result in a wealth of real-time information to empower executives to make better decisions with greater confidence.

I always recommend not asking what data you should collect, but rather what business challenge are you trying to address. This kind of focus helps you avoid the “data for data’s sake” conundrum that so many companies have, which have resulted in so many “pilot purgatories.”

The technology will be there—and more is coming—so don’t get enamored with the buzzword of the day. Stick to your knitting and focus on what you already know about making manufacturing better. You’ll solve more problems with less confusion.

In the age of Industry 4.0, smart manufacturers will be defined not only by their ability to connect to machines, but by connecting data to business challenges to make better decisions. Companies that focus on what they do—manufacturing—and not just manufacturing data are going to win the day.

For more information on the impact access to the right data can have on your business, download this white paper on the correlation between data visibility and manufacturing performance.

About the Author

Stu Johnson, Director of Product Marketing, Plex Systems

Stu Johnson has more than 25 years of experience in the manufacturing industry since beginning his career as a mechanical design engineer. He moved into the enterprise software space working in various roles providing solutions for global manufacturers in the consumer, aerospace, automotive, and heavy equipment industries. Currently, Stu serves as Director of Product Marketing for Plex Systems and focuses on the future of manufacturing software working with the Manufacturing Enterprise Solutions Association (MESA), Smart Manufacturing Workgroup exploring topics like the Industrial Internet of Things and Industry 4.0.