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Home > Posts > Transforming Big Data into Actionable Intelligence for Real-World Benefits
November 15

Transforming Big Data into Actionable Intelligence for Real-World Benefits

Keywords: Big Data, Real-time Analytics, Real-time Visualization, Dashboards, Enterprise Manufacturing Intelligence (EMI), FactoryTalk, VantagePoint.

Summary
The term, "enterprise manufacturing intelligence," or "EMI," refers the technology and practices available to tap into the vast amount of data being collected in today's manufacturing plants and other industrial facilities by aggregating, contextualizing and exposing it as intelligent information with analytics, dashboards, and other visualization tools.

While EMI is not a new technology, its use is growing across a number of industrial sectors. This is partly due to new and improved ancillary technologies and tools, such as mobile devices, collaborative tools, analytics, visualization technologies; and better integration capabilities; and also because of the enormous benefits that users can realize, including:

  • Improved decision making based on actionable, in-context intelligence for production improvements
  • Better visualization, scorecards, and reporting
  • Improved collaboration and reduced information silos
  • Faster time-to-value and ROI – typically less than a year (and shorter than six months for smaller projects)

 

Manufacturing in the Age of Big Data
By some estimates, 90 percent of the recorded data in the world was created within the past two years; a significant portion from social media. An enormous amount of manufacturing data has been collected over the past decade and this increases exponentially every day. Machines, sensors, electricity and water meters, PLCs, control systems, and computer applications generate raw data around the clock about raw materials, production activities, facilities activities, shift changes, etc. Combine this with today's avalanche of potentially useful data available from partners, suppliers, the Internet, social media, and other sources and "Big Data" is the result.

Until recently, all these potentially useful data had been locked in the machines, stored in historians, databases, spreadsheet reports, or papers piled high on managers' desks.

Now, with the advance of data mining and integration technologies and the proliferation of powerful EMI software, manufacturers have the power to tap into these data. In the process, companies are discovering the true value that manufacturing information and real-time data analysis and visualization can bring to the plant floor.

Business Intelligence and Manufacturing Intelligence

ARC clients often ask us about the difference between business intelligence and manufacturing intelligence. Business intelligence typically includes the transactional data applied to the business that is not usually in real time whereas manufacturing intelligence includes the data for managing operations and is data in real time – where the data needs to be looked at as actionable data, and turned into information that gives the real-time actionable intelligence.

Big Data, Analytics, Dashboards, and EMI
"Big Data" analytics and enterprise manufacturing intelligence enable managers, operators, engineers, and maintenance technicians in today's industrial plants make more informed decisions; helping improve operations and reduce costs. However, it's key to be able to turn the data into business decisions in a time frame that enables the decisions to have a positive impact on operations.

Leveraging ALL data quickly – big or small -- requires linking to multiple sources of data and applying real-time analytics to enable responses to demand, raw materials, or energy changes, etc. EMI is used to constantly analyze new data and make the information and intelligence instantly available across the enterprise. The technology needs to aggregate, validate, and contextualize the data and provide real-time visualization tools and/or dashboards that enable it to be acted upon.

Real-time Visualization and Dissemination Are Key
The latest EMI innovations use dashboards, drill down tools, and mobility devices to enhance visibility into manufacturing operations, provide better information links to business information, and help increase agility and flexibility to be able to address volatile market conditions. These benefits help companies optimize production activities based on actual customer requirements and business demands.

With EMI, key decision makers can utilize real time production information in a dashboard; trend, report, or key performance indicators (KPIs) on a mobile device or web browser updated continually and made available anytime, anywhere. The technology can notify the decision makers when production parameters move outside preset limits.

EMI Simplifies Data Integration
All manufacturers use disparate databases, systems, and spreadsheets – whether by tradition, a lack of standards, or due to mergers and acquisitions. The difficulty in integrating data from disparate sources and converting these data easily understood intelligence prevents manufacturers from taking advantage of this information.

EMI Client Examples
With its VantagePoint EMI technology, Rockwell Automation aimed to address this bottleneck to make it easier for users to integrate multiple systems and data sources and automate data collection. The solution includes out-of-the-box connectors and integrates with SharePoint via Excel Services and Web Parts to enable these analytical tools to be used in real-time manufacturing operations for actionable intelligence. Some examples of EMI in action include:

Herbicide Manufacturer
Lacking easy-to-retrieve information and real-time visualization capabilities, an herbicide manufacturer used the Rockwell Automation EMI solution in its chemical plant to capture manufacturing data to increase data accuracy to help ensure safe and efficient crop protection and seed products. According to this user, the technology helped it create an integrated, scalable system that enables quality, on-demand supply to better meet the growing needs of its own clients. Digital KPIs on dashboards and real-time metrics helped the company make more proactive decisions. The manufacturer saw an overall increase in production by 166 percent.

Energy Company

An energy company that extracts oil from oil sands uses specialized technologies to maximize production. This required better collaboration and agility across facilities. Real-time visualization tended to be a bottleneck and required lots of programing, particularly if changes were required. The company relied on off-line Excel reports from disparate data sources and manual entry points. Hours and days were spent collecting relevant data from disparate systems.

The company implemented EMI at two production facilities, primarily to deliver real-time analytics on key production KPIs and improve reporting. The company now saves an enormous amount of time preparing reports, and can run KPI score cards that used to take days to compile in just two to three minutes.

Global Food Manufacturer
Another global manufacturer needed to better understand what was happening on the production floor. This food manufacturer found that it was difficult to get timely information to the right people. Consequently, employees were making non-optimal decisions using ad hoc custom reports with old information – mostly from Excel analytics and charts.

The company was relying on unwritten rules or information known by some of the experienced workers to improve quality and productivity. Some of this "tribal knowledge" was not being passed on to newer employees, resulting in manufacturing errors. The company solved the problem by using EMI technology. By integrating all relevant data sources, plant workers could see how production is impacted and examine interactions to determine how they could improve efficiencies. The technology also improved communications, reducing existing silos and enabling it to move to a more proactive operating model that has improved its profits.

Conclusion
Advances in EMI are helping users realize faster time-to-benefits, improve real-time data analysis and visualization, and turn Big Data into actionable intelligence. ARC will feature several sessions related to EMI at our upcoming ARC Industry Forum. We're also developing an EMI supplier selection service to help manufacturers and other industrial organizations make informed, fact-based, impartial, and well-documented supplier selections for this important emerging technology.

All signed-in ARC Advisory Group clients can view this report in pdf format at this Link

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