Many manufacturers still deal with islands of data. Over the years, as new systems were installed, they were not connected to a main system to produce an overview of the process. This was due to lack of capability of the equipment, cost, and planning. Technology changes so rapidly it is difficult for equipment to keep up. Many manufacturing systems are designed to last 15 years or more. Just think about how much technology has changed since 15 years ago. This makes it difficult to pull data from disparate systems and put it into context that will allow operators and managers make better decisions more quickly.
The data within the equipment is available as an island but not easily related to other data. Some companies pull data out manually and correlate this at the end of the shift or day. However, by that time, the data is old and too late to make adjustments.
By connecting these disparate systems, manufacturers can start taking data from several systems; this data can be turned into information and that information can be turned into action. This could be as simple as developing a central alarm system to see alarms from all different processes in one system.
Another example would be having a central visualization of the process to monitor KPIs within the process (see Operational Excellence). Having a central location to visualize the process can help manufacturers quickly see alarms, quality issues, productivity issues, etc. If the information can be seen in real-time, adjustments can be made much faster to save time, money, and energy.
Having the information of the entire process can be invaluable to manufacturers to make better business decisions.
Success Story: Continental Tire