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Unlocking innovation in manufacturing through data

Unlocking innovation in manufacturing through data

08 Jan 2024

Just like a well-oiled machine, the manufacturing industry thrives on efficiency and optimisation. Data acts as the lubricant that keeps everything running smoothly.

Without data, manufacturers would be operating blindly, unaware of potential issues and opportunities for improvement. It is the key ingredient that allows them to fine-tune their processes, minimise costs and deliver high quality products to customers.

Similarly, while manufacturing now accounts for nearly a quarter of Malaysia’s gross domestic product (GDP), technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT), automation as well as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) will only boost industrial growth and efficiency if they can count upon accurate, actionable and timely data.

To maximise the value of structured and unstructured data from all sources at scale, having the right infrastructure is crucial. It is the key to achieving complete visibility over supply chains and workflow, which ultimately enables businesses to become lean in the face of significant disruption.

With the ability to call on actionable and timely data, businesses can quickly identify and remove bottlenecks in the supply chain, which leads to shorter transit times and lower costs. Additionally, data from IoT sensors within consumer products can provide valuable insights to product development teams, allowing them to better understand customer preferences and issues, and ultimately leading to improved product design and customer satisfaction.

Addressing challenges

When it comes to data challenges in the manufacturing sector, businesses encounter various complexities that require careful consideration. One pressing concern is data residency, which encompasses the storage, management and protection of personal data and communications.

As part of the broader issue of data sovereignty, complying with local data protection laws is important for businesses, especially now that the government is looking to increase the fines for violations of the Personal Data Protection Act (PDPA) in its review of the latter.

Furthermore, the aggregation of data from diverse sources presents a significant challenge for many manufacturers.

Data is generated across various functional areas, such as sales, marketing, finance and human resources. Bringing these disparate data sources together and consolidating them into a unified repository, such as a data lake, is essential for extracting meaningful insights.

By aggregating data, manufacturers can gain comprehensive visibility into their operations, unlock correlations and leverage intelligent analytics to support informed decision-making.

This process of aggregating and harmonising data sets lays the foundation for generating actionable insights and driving innovation throughout the manufacturing value chain.

Overcoming silos and fuelling data-driven innovation

One commonly observed fact is that challenges in data modernisation often arise from the presence of data silos.

When striving for innovation across business units or multiple countries, enterprises should begin by indexing the existing data rather than starting from scratch. This helps pinpoint use cases and outcomes, which are indicators of returns on investment (ROI).

Organisations need to be truly data-driven and have quick access to all relevant information. However, many organisations have large amounts of unused and underutilised data. Data is the backbone of businesses, and it is necessary to align the entire organisation with data to make it more effective.

Providers of managed cloud services can help organisations seamlessly bridge this gap and facilitate the secure dissemination of valuable business insights across teams.

One way to start this transformation journey is to leverage the existing data that is already available in the organisation. Doing so can save time and resources, as well as provide insights into the current performance.

Data can be collected from databases, reports and surveys, and can be cleaned, integrated and analysed using cloud native tools to drive analysis and decision-making. This provides manufacturers with the tools and insights to withstand risks and navigate business challenges adroitly.

Hemanta Banerjee is  vice-president of public cloud data services at Rackspace Technology, a provider of expertise and managed services across all the major public and private cloud technologies

Source: The Edge Malaysia