“Data is the new oil” – is something we all have echoed repeatedly but only a very small fraction of organizations have been able to truly realize it. Most organizations are accumulating a significant amount of data, that can be contextualized and analyzed to get actionable insights to drive performance improvement. That is where business intelligence comes into the picture.
Business Intelligence makes data-driven decision-making possible at a large scale. Using self-service analytics capability, the business leaders can tweak different parameters and simulate different scenarios before decision making. With this, they are better equipped to draw useful insights and make better-informed decisions with a higher probability of success.
Importance of Business Intelligence in manufacturing
Availability of technologies to source data at low cost from equipment and IT applications makes manufacturing, one of the most suited industries for applying BI. Data is already being measured and recorded in real-time using IoT devices, PLC, SCADA, MES, ERP, CRM, and other platforms. Most of the time, this data collected is used only for general operations purposes. Getting insights from data is an area most organizations have not really looked at. Processing data efficiently can unlock a lot of value and can lead to great tangible monetary benefits. For example, in FMCG, processing quality data using advanced analytics and re-aligning processes in real-time can lead to big savings by avoiding potential rejections and rework.
Business Intelligence tools convert text and numbers into images that are more readable and comprehendible.
Here are a few applications of BI tools in manufacturing –
Inventory Management – Without complete visibility of products on hand, it may be challenging to minimize inventory costs without compromising service levels. BI dashboards take various data points like changes in supply and demand, product obsolescence, and other factors into consideration and help the manufacturers optimize safety stock, assess reordering points, control inventory costs, avoid out-of-stocks and improve the service levels.
Supply Chain Management – BI tools can help the supply chain managers get more insight into routes, carriers, wait times, freight delivery status, and payments. It helps in finding more opportunities and doing better negotiations. Tracking KPIs like OTIF helps identify delivery issues in real-time and address them.
When combined with Advanced Analytics, BI can solve even more complex problems like the following –
- Energy Analytics – Energy cost is a major chunk of conversion cost in any manufacturing unit. There is a need to optimize the performance of utilities like boiler, chiller, and other energy-intensive units. In absence of insights, the plant operators are more focused on meeting production targets than on optimization.
- Product Quality Analytics – Can also help global FMCGs to collect data from existing PLC & SCADA systems, apply artificial intelligence, make data models, and show meaningful KPIs in real-time on responsive dashboards using which the operators could control the quality of products being manufactured. This will lead to quality yield improvements of 1-2%.
Now before you decide on your business intelligence tool, here are some points to keep in mind –
- Involve both Business management and IT team in developing BI tools
- Decide right KPIs from start
- Build database, don’t use data directly from different sources because different sources may have different benchmarks
- Select BI tools that allow customized report delivery and scheduling
- Develop BI tools that can work on different devices including smartphones to make them more useful
- Don’t delay the development thinking you don’t have enough data. Most companies already have enough data to start with
- In conclusion, BI tools are a must for manufacturing organizations today. It makes the whole process faster, optimized and transparent. The investments made are lesser compared to the long-term gains.
About the Author:
Nishant is a part of the Business Consulting Group at ITC infotech and an I4.0 practitioner. Currently, in his role as an Associate Consultant with ITC Infotech, he works on transformational digital solutions for the manufacturing industry. In his six years of work experience, he has exposure to working at a greenfield facility of a market leader metal manufacturer. He also has extensive experience in manufacturing operations and business consulting. Nishant holds B.Tech from NIT Bhopal and an MBA from IIM-Udaipur.