Manufacturers to Rely More on Big Data Analytics

A recent survey of manufacturing executives indicates many respondents (67 percent) are pressing ahead with plans to invest in data analytics even as they pare back spending in other areas to combat tough business conditions.
The reason: Many say they view data analytics – a key component of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT)  -- as a viable solution to a cycle of problems that lead to downtime and lost revenue.
More than 200 North American manufacturing executives took part in the survey titled "Data's Big Impact on Manufacturing: A Study of Executive Opinions." The survey was jointly conducted by Honeywell Process Solutions (HPS) and KRC Research Inc., from May 23 to June 8, 2016.
Among other key findings of the survey:
•Some companies are feeling pressure to continue working under the threats of unscheduled downtime and equipment breakdowns, which are viewed the most detrimental to maximizing revenue.
•The majority of companies say they are already investing in data analytics technology.
•More than a quarter said they don't plan to invest in data analytics in the next year; of that group, not understanding the benefits of data analytics and inadequate resources are among the most cited reasons for this lack of investment.
Unscheduled downtime was ranked as the top threat to maximizing revenue, but 42 percent of respondents admitted to running equipment harder than they should. When asked how often their companies experienced a list of issues in recent years, 71 percent of respondents said they experienced equipment breakdowns at least occasionally, while 64 percent said the same for unscheduled downtime.
Forty percent ranked unscheduled downtime as the biggest threat to maximizing revenue. Other threats included:
•Supply chain management issues (39 percent)
•Inadequate staffing (37 percent)
•Off-spec products (36 percent)
•Equipment breakdowns (32 percent)
Data analytics is a key component of a successful IIoT implementation for manufacturers. Most respondents had favorable views of the benefits of data analytics as a solution. For example, the executives said they agreed big data analytics can reduce the occurences of:
•Equipment breakdowns (70 percent)
•Unscheduled downtime (68 percent)
•Unscheduled maintenance (64 percent)
•Supply chain management issues (60 percent)
Respondents said they believe data can enable well-informed decisions in real time (63 percent), limit waste (57 percent), and predict the risk of downtime (56 percent).
Additionally, more than two-thirds of respondents (68 percent) said they are currently investing in data analytics, and 50 percent said they believe their companies are right on track in their use of data analytics. Fifteen percent said they believe their companies are ahead of the curve as it relates to data analytics usage.         
While the majority of respondents said they are already investing and/or planning to increase their investments in data analytics in the coming year, 32 percent said they are not currently investing in data analytics. Meanwhile, 33 percent said their companies are not planning to invest in data analytics in the next 12 months, or are unaware of any plans to do so.
Of those who currently have no plans to invest:
•61 percent believe their organizations already have systems in place to ensure safety, yield and success
•45 percent said their companies have seen some growth without data analytics
•42 percent said they don't fully understand the benefits of big data
•35 percent believe people are overstating the benefits of big data
Sixty-three percent of respondents who said they have no investment plans indicated they just don't have the resources to appropriately do so, while 39 percent said they don't have the right staff to make the most of data analytics.