The Importance Of Data In Industry 4.0

Apr 26, 2021 8:15:00 AM / by Jeanine Binder

Industry 4.0, also known as the Fourth Industrial Revolution, merges traditional manufacturing processes with smart technology. This marriage of the old and new creates a more streamlined and efficient system — one that's run on data. The world's data production has grown so quickly that 90% of all the world's data was produced in the last three years. That's 2.5 quintillion bytes in three years. But if organizations learn to sift through all the raw data, they can gather insights, allowing them to work more efficiently. So it isn't hard to see why data is so valuable. And in an age where everything is constantly evolving, every industry needs to adapt to this data-driven world, including the manufacturing industry.

How The Manufacturing Industry Benefits From Data And Industry 4.0 

According to a study from 2018, 88% of innovative manufacturers have started their digital transformation. Some have even claimed to already have finished it. And so far, this has proven to be a worthwhile investment. Companies with more than half of their revenues invested in digital ecosystems saw a 32% increase in revenue growth and a 27% higher profit margin.

Data's role in manufacturing, as with most industries, all comes down to reducing costs and increasing profits. Look at artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies as examples of disruptive technology. Businesses can automate their manufacturing processes and continue in distributing products, even amid a global health crisis. AI can also assist in predicting market demand based on historical information, current events, and customer preferences, all of which inform the companies' sourcing practices.

Manufacturing companies can use the wealth of data they have to improve operational efficiency. They can identify and eliminate bottlenecks, detect human errors, and implement predictive maintenance to avoid downtimes and improve the functionality and longevity of machines. Data also comes into play in the training of employees, reliable documentation, and customer service.

Finally, businesses that embrace the use of data also make way for more interoperability and traceability in their systems. Legacy systems in industries as old as the manufacturing business are often outdated and unable to share data with newer systems. But by adopting new data management and storage software, companies will have a much easier time sharing data with the different levels of the manufacturing process — from the machine and factory level, up to the corporate level.

How Manufacturers Can Become More Data  Driven 

It's clear that with the proper data management techniques, manufacturing companies can reap plenty of benefits. However, the sheer amount of new tools that have become available to the industry can be overwhelming. Even more overwhelming is the prospect of having to learn how to operate each of these new technologies. In this regard, it's worth drafting a plan for your company's digital transformation. When it comes to adapting or even overhauling a business model, it's important to take it one step at a time. This ensures that the business transitions smoothly.

In this day and age, every manufacturing company must also have qualified data analysts in their employ. Careers in data analytics have continued to expand at an astronomical pace, with the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimating a 33% growth between 2016-2026. From finance to manufacturing, there’s a demand for data analysts who can pinpoint patterns and extrapolate valuable insights that any organization can use to expedite internal operations. Their expertise can help in expediting the business's digital transformation and educating the workforce, particularly in an industry like manufacturing which is built on legacy systems. Educating the workforce is of particular note in the industry. According to a survey by TrendMicro, most manufacturers still use outdated systems to forward business operations. A majority make use of Windows XP, which was released in 2001 and is no longer supported. Given that the workforce is so accustomed to these old systems, it's all the more necessary to have an expert guiding them through such a leap in technological standards.

Turning Manufacturing Data Into Knowledge

From reducing errors to predicting trends, big data's role in Industry 4.0 is integral and, quite simply, non-negotiable. With the right data strategies, manufacturing can become even more intelligent, efficient, and interconnected.

ThinkIQ’s Manufacturing Digital Transformation SaaS provides a fact-based granular, data-centric contextualized view of material flows and related provenance attribute data. As you would expect, this contextualized farm-to-fork visibility unlocks access to unprecedented traceability and insight into actions that improve yield, quality, safety, and compliance while reducing waste and environmental impact. Other digital manufacturing techniques fall short because they lack the power to contextualize the data, and thus cannot accommodate hyper shifts in demand or supply sourcing. They rely too heavily on equipment-centric views, which results in trillions of dollars of waste and underperforming assets on top of billions of dollars in warranty reserves for quality and safety issues.

So, when  you are ready to learn more about Industry 4.0 a friendly ThinkIQ expert is standing by to help you pull all the context you need out of your data. You can also start by downloading our eBook titled "Advanced Material Traceability Revolutionizes Digital Transformation"

Tags: SMART Manufacturing, Material Ledger, Industry 4.0

Jeanine Binder

Written by Jeanine Binder