Data integration…it’s different for plants

Jan. 30, 2020
A Q&A with HULFT’s Rin Nagaike.

During Smart Industry Base Camp, HULFT will exhibit its data-logistics platform. Today we chat with CTO Rin Nagaike on info overload, data-workflow orchestration and quickening the process to create a bill-of-material. Take a look…

Smart Industry: You state that we're in an era of too much information. Explain.  

Rin: The amount of data that a single manufacturing company and its partner ecosystem creates in a day has exploded from gigabytes in the early 2000s to petabytes (or more)

HULFT's Rin Nagaike

per day in 2020. To find the key signals in all of this data noise, and operationalize these signals into business results, we need bigger data repositories and faster data gathering, integration and transfer capabilities. Finally, we need machine-learning and advanced analytics to make decisions faster and shorten discreet processes.

Smart Industry: What is the most common IT challenge in an industrial enterprise?

Rin: Unlike many industries where the data center is the focus of IT control, the plant is the digital center of transformation initiatives for manufacturing companies. They have a complex mix of legacy systems and modern applications that can span four decades in age. So completing any digital-transformation project requires integrating data from diverse systems and formats ranging from the AS/400 mainframe they installed in the 1980s to an SAP HANA supply chain application from 2015 and the new 5G IoT sensor network they may be building now.

Smart Industry: What do you mean by data-workflow orchestration? 

Rin: Industrial enterprises don’t have the luxury of having all modern data and systems like a fintech startup. Therefore, older companies practice data-workflow orchestration, which consists of constantly moving data around to be where the data users will need it. A company can waste time and resources moving data with very little to show for it. With the right approach, it can be like a game of chess that begins with identifying what data you need, the format it’s in, the place it needs to go and how it needs to be processed and stored to produce business value. From there it requires a long series of strategic moves and collaborations with disparate stakeholders in the organization.

A recent example is Sandvik’s Seco Tools subsidiary, which has a 150,000-tool catalog that drives the creation of bill-of-materials for new customers. Each tool can have hundreds of part files. It often took three months for the Seco team to manually create a bill-of-material, which sometimes resulted in canceled orders. Leveraging our HULFT Integrate solution, they created single-source database that reduced the process to less than a day.