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Data-collection trends for 2023

Feb. 15, 2023
"Adding a few of these data-collection points provides key insights and enables users to develop an appetite for the value of such data."

By Richard Phillips, PE, PMP, Polytron director of smart manufacturing

In the coming year and beyond, manufacturers need to increasingly harness the data from plant floor systems to expand their capabilities for market competition, agility, efficiency and profitability. We recognize an increase in digitalization projects within the manufacturing industry, and key areas and customer initiatives we are seeing include:

· Going paperless—Paper-based data collection and reporting still exists out there. The issues with this are well known. It’s truly the low hanging fruit for improving efficiency with data collection/reporting, reducing data-entry errors through error-proofing, providing automatic context (who collected the data, when, on which line, etc.) and reducing data-manipulation for reporting. Reducing the use of Excel and replacing it with data-entry directly into a database enables real-time dashboards and reports. We have seen projects funded based on the ROI from labor savings alone.

· Automatic data-collection—Smaller manufacturers still struggle with collecting real-time data from the plant floor (from PLCs, etc.). Industry 4.0 has brought with it IIoT smart sensors that leverage mesh networks to collect this data at relatively low cost, without the need for complex infrastructure. Adding a few of these data-collection points provides key insights and enables users to develop an appetite for the value of such data.

· Digital workflow—Digital workflow provides real-time visibility of all manufacturing workflows and allows for true democratization of manufacturing information. This applies to workflows in production, quality, shipping, receiving, warehouse and across all functions. It is becoming the first phase of digital transformation for discrete-manufacturing industries such as semiconductor fabrication, electric vehicle final assembly, furniture assembly, waste processing, and others. Anything that requires step-by-step instruction is a good candidate. The more complex the work instructions, the greater the benefits of digitalization.

· A common platform for digitalization—Digitalization projects using different digital tools results in islands of information with no easy way of relating the data and understanding the context. Leveraging a manufacturing-operations platform to do all of this (and more) is the bigger opportunity. IT has been implementing this concept for years using ERP platforms. The ability for manufacturing to do the same using a manufacturing operations-management (MOM) platform is providing similar benefits, in addition to serving as an enabler for Industry 4.0 solutions such as machine learning.

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