How can manufacturers harness their data to support business goals?

Manufacturing is under increasing pressure to remain relevant, innovative, and ahead of the curve. Here, we look at how their data can help them do so.

Whatever you manufacture, you know the drill. Cost pressures are ever-present, risk analysis clouds every decision, and managing assets feels like juggling multiple items while also spinning plates and hopping up and down. On top of that, you've got a supply chain that needs to be as flexible as a gymnast, machinery that should run like clockwork and regulations that are non-negotiable. Oh, and let's not forget to maximize that ROCE.

Many in manufacturing are stuck with outdated data systems that just don't cut it anymore. This only increases the already urgent need for digital transformation. By adopting modern digital solutions, manufacturers can boost productivity, streamline operations, and enhance agility, ensuring they remain competitive and resilient in an ever-evolving marketplace.

Sound good?

Let’s look how you can address these pain points by harnessing your data.

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Why do manufacturers need to use data better?

Manufacturing is a key pillar of economic growth and innovation, and naturally, it’s rapidly evolving. If you're not keeping up, you're falling behind. One of the best ways to stay ahead of the curve is by harnessing the power of your data, but why is that so crucial?

Thriving in a competitive landscape

  • Globalization and Market Competition: You're not just competing with the factory down the road anymore, or even in the next town over. You're up against manufacturers from across the globe. With markets opening everywhere, understanding how to outmaneuvre international competition is essential. With data, you can grasp market trends, examine supply chain dynamics, and get a sense of what your competitors are up to.
  • Increasing Customer Expectations: Gone are the days when you could get away with sub-par products, lengthy shipping time and hiding a bad review. Data helps you anticipate customer needs, allowing you to design products that meet and exceed expectations.

Operational Efficiency

  • Cost-Effectiveness: We all know manufacturing involves an abundance of costs — raw materials, labor, overheads, you name it. Using your data to identify inefficiencies, excess spending and waste in your processes can help to reduce costs. For example, predictive analytics can help you foresee machine breakdowns, allowing you to carry out preventative maintenance and avoid downtime.
  • Process Optimization: Real-time data offers instant feedback on how things are going. Are you producing too slowly? Is your quality control up to snuff? Are your inventory levels just right? Data helps you adjust on the fly, averting costly mistakes and enhancing productivity.

Strategic Decision-Making

  • Long-term Planning: Any kind of long-term planning without proper data is like driving blindfolded, backwards and with a missing wheel. You wouldn't do that, would you? When put to good use, your data can give you a crystal-clear view of market demands, emerging tech, and promising investment opportunities. This way, you can craft a strategic plan that's not just wishful thinking but grounded in real insights.
  • Risk Assessment: Whether it's fluctuating raw material prices, changing regulations and legislation, or potential supply chain disruptions, unlocking your data lets you weigh the risks effectively. By identifying potential challenges and uncertainties, you can take steps to mitigate those risks, be they financial, operational, or compliance related.

Using data virtualization as a solution

Data virtualization gives you an instant, cohesive snapshot of your company's data, drawn from across all areas of operation. It’s time to move away from outdated, clunky processes to a world of quick, well-informed decisions enabled by the latest in technological innovation. Put simply, data virtualization streamlines your access to data, allowing you to manage and utilize information without having to understand the technical specifics of how it’s formatted or where it physically resides. So, what exactly can data virtualization help you achieve as a business?

Integrated view of all your data, for all data consumers

Data virtualization brings together all your scattered pieces of data into one easy-to-view picture, making it simpler for everyone in your company to get the information they need. It grants data users from various departments within your organization the ability to access a comprehensive view of all data - whether compartmentalized or otherwise - as though it were contained within one digital repository. This all-encompassing outlook ensures that decisions are made on the strength of a complete dataset, enhancing the precision and efficacy of both strategic and operational decisions.

Modernising your business applications

Data virtualization is the springboard for modernization, deftly bridging the old and the new. It allows your enterprise to continue reaping value from existing data and technological investments whilst steadily retiring obsolete systems. This transition paves the way for a dynamic and adaptable infrastructure that can keep pace with evolving business requirements. By streamlining your operations in this way, your enterprise is endowed with the agility to respond swiftly to market fluctuations and tech advancements with the least amount of friction.

Reimagining supply chains

Today's supply chains face global disruptions, evolving demand patterns, and logistical hurdles. But there's a remedy: real-time data. By utilizing data virtualization, manufacturers can refine inventory management, pre-empt supply chain disruptions, and fortify vendor relationships. In essence, a data-driven approach is carving the future trajectory of supply chain management and bringing it in line with the expectations of a modern data ecosystem.

Steering research and development

In the race for innovation, research and development is your engine. Yet, challenges like protracted development cycles, soaring costs, and a scarcity of consumer insights can stall progress. Data virtualization offers the ability to speed up prototype creation, amplify product testing, and efficiently harvest consumer feedback. Ultimately, this results in a swifter time-to-market for fresh innovations.

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Championing sustainable manufacturing

Sustainability isn't just a buzzword; it's crucial in manufacturing. With hurdles like waste management, surging energy consumption, and escalating carbon footprints, the path to green manufacturing can seem steep. Data virtualisation illuminates this path, offering insights into resource use, waste generation, and energy expenditure. And the rewards? Better environmental care, an improved brand reputation, and clear cost savings.

Tailoring Manufacturing Through Data Insights

For manufacturers to truly succeed, they must center their efforts around the consumer. Data virtualization comes into play by helping manufacturers understand current consumer preferences, spot trends quickly, and receive immediate feedback. With this, manufacturers are not just responding to changes—they're actively shaping them, refining designs and driving innovation.

To learn more about how data virtualization can be a driving force to fast-track transformation in your organization, download our latest guide in collaboration with Denodo, 'Accelerated Transformation in Manufacturing with Data Virtualization’ below. We cover specific case study examples such as Toyota-Astra and share insights into the profound impact of data-driven strategies in the sector. Learn how manufacturers are leveraging this technology to stay ahead.

Alternatively, get in touch with our team of data experts, we’d love to chat about how we can help your manufacturing organization make the most of your data.

Download Guide | Accelerating Transformation in Manufacturing with Data Virtualization

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