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How Big Data Can Change Everything

Posted March 15, 2015 12:00 AM by Engineering360 eNewsletter

Manufacturers already use shop floor data for operational monitoring, but if they leverage Big Data and adopt advanced analytics, they can achieve even greater operational insights, increase yields, and reduce costs. Forbes uses real-world examples to show how taking a broader approach with data and factoring in the entire supply chain can revolutionize manufacturing. This metamorphosis begins with tighter integration of IT, manufacturing, and operational systems. Armed with a "big picture" view of operations, plant managers can more accurately forecast product demand and better understand plant performance across multiple metrics, improving traceability and compliance in the process.


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Re: How Big Data Can Change Everything

03/16/2015 5:19 PM

Interesting article. I am leery of the Big Data hype, however. Like little data, Big Data is susceptible to errors, misinterpretation, and deliberate manipulation. Don't get me wrong. I'm an all data all the time kind of guy, but data is data. Data is not information. Data is not knowledge. And the basics do not change.

Example: The diagram showing the use of Data Visualizations, Correlation Analyses, Significance Testing, and Neural Networks to model complex processes suggests nothing new. (OK, neural networks is newish, but modeling and simulation are not new.) These are all techniques tried and true, and used for nearly 100 years, at least.

Crunching data across the industry? How is this data to be gathered? Most of what you want to see may be guarded as proprietary. Consider this paragraph:

"Greater visibility into supplier quality levels, and greater accuracy in predicting supplier performance over time. Using big data and advanced analytics, manufacturers are able to view product quality and delivery accuracy in real-time, making trade-offs on which suppliers receive the most time-sensitive orders. Managing to quality metrics becomes the priority over measuring delivery schedule performance alone."

Is a supplier's quality level self-reported by the supplier? Is this company X's ratings of its suppliers? How is X's ratings of its suppliers going to help the rest of the industry if X doesn't want to share that data. And the last sentence, gasp! If you aren't managing to quality metrics now, you will have an extremely difficult task convincing your managers to give up their schedule driven habits just because you have a fancier computer/data system.

There are a lot of challenges to using Big Data. Perhaps the biggest will be the major challenge we have already; learning to listen to what the data tells us, not what we want the data to tell us.

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Re: How Big Data Can Change Everything

03/16/2015 9:20 PM

Big Data is something that Big Thinkers like to talk about.

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