The manufacturing and supply chain world is filled with a plethora of data, which can be invaluable for organizations that know how to utilize it correctly. Gary Mintchell, founding editor of Automation World, said the flow of data is an important consideration for companies and the first thing that needs to be considered is the acquisition of data from analog measurements. Data collection software may prove to be very handy for businesses that want to start making use of this information.
"This may or may not be used in real time," he said of the tools. "Then there is data in motion and data at rest. Finally there is archiving the data. Then characterize data by where it is. The insight comes from how the data is used. Real time is important if you are monitoring a motor about to catch fire. On the other hand, maybe you want to go through three years of data to look for trend."
At a recent press conference, National Instruments fellow Tom Bradicich said it isn't just about which data or sample size is larger, but about the velocity and how it moves within the company, according to Automation World. Where customers want the organization to get insight from is an important consideration, as this will show a company how it can improve what it does across the enterprise.
One company has been using and creating many terabytes per month, with Bradicich saying it can measure electric grids that can generate as much as 20 TB per hour. The company, Duke Energy, now has a system in place that makes better use of data analysis instead of spending a majority of the time collecting it. This has helped the organization compare information much more quickly and act on it when it needs to instead of sitting on anything for too long. Mintchell said situations like these, where large amounts of fast-moving data are controlled and used correctly, should be kept in mind to allow companies to know they can use big data and data collection to solve problems.
Data Measurements Helps Food Manufacturers
A recent study conducted by BSR and the Food Waste Reduction Alliance, found manufacturers generate plenty of food waste, including unfinished products, trimmings, peels and other items that may seem unavoidable. The analysis in the study showed food waste could be reduced, according to Susan Kujava, industry relations director at General Mills and co-chair of the FWRA.
"This new data not only helps us better understand how industry currently is managing food waste, it gives us a benchmark against which we can measure our progress," she said.
Numbers from this survey included:
- 94.6 percent of food waste has been diverted from landfills to donation and recycling
- 73 percent of food waste went to animal feed
- There were 700 million pounds of safe food donated that would have otherwise been wasted
Michael Hewett, director of environmental and sustainability programs at Publix Super Markets and co-chair of the FWRA, said while these numbers are somewhat encouraging, more can be done to keep food out of landfills. The issue may actually be more pertinent to the wholesale side of food sales, as 55.6 percent of wholesale and retail manufacturers diverted food from landfills to a higher use. This number could be made much better.
Organizations can use inventory control software and implement data collection processes in place to be sure they are keeping waste from building up and know which areas they are improving. Companies should be sure systems they adopt can be grown into.