Big Data: Aggregated Cloud Data Delivers Value to Manufacturing

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As connectivity to the cloud expands and captures every step of the production process— from the machines, people, tools and materials on the shop floor — new tools are evolving to help manufacturers tackle some of the biggest challenges they face. The rise of sensors and smart devices on the plant floor, what we call the Internet of Making Things (IoMT), will unlock new insights for manufacturers through big data tools and analytics.

Most manufacturers own very expensive pieces of specialized equipment. It takes years to assemble the information necessary to develop optimum operational settings or maintenance schedules to keep an individual machine in top-notch condition. But cloud solutions can now aggregate data from the dozens of other companies using the same equipment. For the equipment maker, that can provide real-world insight. For the manufacturer, it means more effective planning, maintenance and utilization. And just as we’ve done with the consumer Internet, participation can in many cases be managed through opting in. Share data where you want to get insight, keep trade secrets private.

Demand for big data on the plant floor is growing. According to the recent State of Manufacturing Study from Plex Systems, 31 percent of manufacturers said they are currently evaluating big data needs and opportunities or plan to explore this area in the coming year. Sixty-six percent said cloud technologies have already improved insights into business.

This type of anonymized data has historically only been available from the big survey and research firms. Cloud-based aggregation will help industries or individual companies identify trends and correlations from a wide range of real-world information, while still preserving anonymity and security. By compiling data from multiple sources and combining information across similar applications and settings, cloud ERP solution providers can develop both industry-specific and process-specific analyses, benchmark performance and unlock efficiencies.

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