Time to embrace Big Data and IIoT

Departments - Editor’s Letter

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March 2, 2018

Only a manufacturing enthusiast would choose to spend Valentine’s Day at a breakfast meeting. So of course, I attended the event along with 299 other manufacturing-loving people. We were there to hear results from the 2018 Northeast Ohio Manufacturing Survey. MAGNET: The Manufacturing Advocacy and Growth Network, under the direction of the Ohio Manufacturing Extension Partnership (Ohio-MEP), conducted a survey of more than 400 manufacturing companies and the results are positive:

  • 58% plan increased capital expenditure
  • 86% expect increased revenue

While the MAGNET survey was regional, responses trend similarly to a recent national survey conducted by LEA Global/The Leading Edge Alliance:

  • 66% plan increased capital expenditure
  • 81% expect increased revenue

There were other key takeaways that show manufacturers are upbeat while two responses show what’s known: investment in modern technology delivers more productivity and increases revenue. Increased productivity is exactly what Northeast Ohio (NEO) manufacturers are already doing – ahead of the nation, as the MAGNET survey reported. NEO is outpacing the U.S. in change in post-recession manufacturing productivity. Since 2007, NEO productivity has increased 16% while U.S. productivity has risen 12%. Both are positive indictors for the industry, and NEO still has plans to make that gap larger.

Some type of automation is currently used by 40% of the respondents, but it’s the 55% who say they are looking for more automation that’s a reminder of how much my home town and the surrounding region is still committed to its manufacturing roots – an essential contributor to the economy. And they are innovative; 70% have launched a new product in the last year.

What seems like the great divide, regionally and nationally, is the piece that connects technology investment with maximized productivity – Big Data and the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). There’s just not much love for them: only 16% of the companies in NEO are dabbling with IIoT; 10% are thinking about Big Data. With the region already leading in productivity, and plans for increased capital expenditure, using manufacturing analytics could create improvements from the shop floor up.

New approaches often receive a lukewarm reception from an industry comfortable with how it’s always been done; however, data collected from equipment generates results that lead to smarter manufacturing practices. So, is your facility doing as much as possible with all the available data? I’d like to hear how IIoT and Big Data are making your manufacturing operations smarter.

Elizabeth Engler Modic, Editor
emodic@gie.net