This article is published by Skoda Minotti’s Manufacturing & Distribution Group.

How smart is your manufacturing? How well has your company embraced new technologies that deliver actionable data that can make your manufacturing processes more efficient and save you money? If you are like many manufacturers today in a diverse array of industries, you may not be capitalizing to the fullest extent possible on leading-edge innovations such as sensors and wireless devices that can capture valuable information and reveal inefficiencies.

The time to change that approach is now. By learning more about what’s possible with the latest technological innovations, and then implementing those that make sense for your operation, your company can prevent potential slippage and potentially increase its margins. Below are four strategies for using data to boost your manufacturing competitiveness.

  1. Smart Manufacturing is the Future; Harness its Power Today

These days, data can be captured and analyzed at all stages of a product’s creation. By installing sensors in manufacturing equipment, information can be revealed at various points in the production process, which in turn can offer insight into the state of the equipment and where improvements are possible. Thus, gathering data is important, but properly interpreting it is key. For example, one factor facing many manufacturers is the distance over which products and components are transported. Data which is captured and then analyzed may reveal that some production elements should be more distributed while others more centralized.

  1. Mine Data for its Details

Presently, data science is rarely taught in engineering or business degree programs. Consequently, many companies lack the skill sets necessary to know what to measure and when to measure it. Some companies also have a tendency to hesitate when it comes to investing in new technologies. The reasons may vary, but the sum total is that competitive advantages may escape their grasp.

It’s essential to know how well your equipment is performing, and the only way to achieve that understanding is through continual monitoring. While all situations are unique, generally speaking, the data that needs to be collected relates to the cost of running a piece of equipment, the efficiency of the machine and the quality of the products produced.

  1. Craft Predictive Models

It’s critical to know that a new product will meet a customer’s expectations before it is manufactured. One way to do this is by collecting and analyzing data to create a predictive model. The beginning of the process might likely entail knowing the quantity being ordered and the deadline for its delivery. If a manufacturer has been collecting and analyzing equipment-related data for months or even years using a well-designed predictive model, then they’ll be better prepared to design, produce and deliver a product that will meet a quantified market demand. Essentially, the use of predictive modeling taps data mining and enables the manufacturer to provide probabilities that help forecast outcomes. That information can strengthen your bottom line—and potentially even your customers’ as well.

  1. Monitor Predictive Models and Adjust as Needed

Even though a company can possess an effective predictive model, it’s vital for manufacturers to carefully consider how these models react to a range of variables. These might include a lack of employee availability to run machines. They could also highlight incorrect data being gathered from a faulty sensor or from obsolete equipment that’s not operating properly. The consequence could be a costly disruption to the manufacturing process—but catching it through careful monitoring can mean a world of difference.

The pivotal takeaway is that collecting and analyzing data can allow manufacturers to design predictive models, which, in turn, will allow them to make smart decisions regarding customer orders—especially those that are large and involve a unique product. Still, the predictive models must be monitored and adjusted as needed to ensure that data collection and analysis is accurate, which will affect the decision-making process.

The day clearly has arrived for manufacturers to fully engage with new technologies and to harness the power of those technologies to create greater efficiencies and boost profits.

Do you have any questions about gaps in your manufacturing innovation strategies? Contact us at 440-449-6800.

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