Big data and the human side of manufacturing

August 22, 2019 //By Heinz Linsmaier
Big data
The fourth industrial revolution is well underway. Industry 4.0 has gone from being the name of a German government project, to an industry-wide trend encompassing end-to-end digitization and data integration across whole enterprises.

Physical equipment can now have a ‘Digital Twin’ – a virtual representation of itself – which is able to inform predictions and subsequent processes. Automation is at an all-time high in terms of decision making and process control.

Subsequently, we have more data than ever with which to inform business decisions. From machines at the heart of the manufacturing process to incidental mechanisms like the supply chain or transportation, big data is providing the basis for better and quicker strategic decisions.

The potential that big data has to make operations more cost-effective is obvious. A 2017 survey from management consultancy McKinsey&Company suggested that the implementation of Big Data in manufacturing could boost pre-tax margins by 4-10%, enhancing everything from machine life to increased output.

The seemingly obvious conclusion — which is that you should push the benefits of big data to the maximum, quantifying and automating as much as you can — is not the case. The most effective enterprises will recognize the limitations of Industry 4.0 and continue to value the expert on the manufacturing floor, marrying individual intuition with automation.

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