Fine-Tuning Manufacturing Operations with Big Data and Hadoop

October 6, 2014
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Hadoop in manufacturingYour organization is a lean, mean Six Sigma machine. The corporate culture is centered on continuous improvement, with everyone well versed in Kaizen. Your supply chain is well oiled, which should provide assurance about product quality.

Hadoop in manufacturingYour organization is a lean, mean Six Sigma machine. The corporate culture is centered on continuous improvement, with everyone well versed in Kaizen. Your supply chain is well oiled, which should provide assurance about product quality. And yet you wonder: is it possible to improve operations even further?

The answer is a resounding yes. You just need to make your big data work a little harder. And with Apache Hadoop’s unrivaled ability to efficiently process all types of data, you can do things with analytics that you once only dreamed about.

Here are some options to explore:

Silo Busting

You may already be using historical process data to identify the patterns that cause problems and the factors that result in success. But are you analyzing historical data from across the entire distributed enterprise? If not, aggregate and evaluate those lonely, isolated data sets. You might want to compare efficiency across facilities. You could correlate your development cycle to your business performance, which would allow you to perceive room for improvement.

Find the bottlenecks

Sure, you can speed a product along the assembly line in 57 seconds. That’s great. But what would happen if you could spare a few seconds from that process? Analyze the assembly line procedures to determine where the most seemingly insignificant slowdowns are occurring. Then experiment with potential changes to determine whether they’ll produce measurable improved efficiency.

Configuration prediction

If you offer products with numerous configuration possibilities, big data analysis with Hadoop can reveal which options are the most popular among your target audiences. This information enables you to adjust production accordingly, market more effectively, and deliver the most desired products to consumers quickly, while still offering the full range of choices to all of your customers. Win-win!

Market planning

When are customers most likely to buy your product? Are there specific times that you should offer discounts, and what deals are the most tempting? You can analyze your data to understand and capitalize on seasonal variances and reveal the probable impact of new product releases on existing inventory. You can also adjust your production cycle to meet consumer demand, or perhaps ramp up production to get to the market before your competitors’ offerings are even off the assembly line.

Enhanced logistics

Time-stamped historical information captured from products on the move can be used to analyze the costs of shipping and transportation options. You can get as granular as you like, perhaps defining the most efficient routes to speed delivery of high-demand products, or rerouting to bypass weather or traffic delays. This sort of analysis can also help you meet delivery guarantees (avoiding the now all too familiar holiday season delivery debacles), and cost-effectively provide expedited shipment services to customers who want instant gratification.

Get more data

Your big data isn’t big enough? Extended production cycles can lead to a dearth of data. Start planning a targeted data collection project now, and you’ll have enough information to extract statistically meaningful results in the future. What processes are the most critical to your company’s success? Which are the most complex? What information would best support the company’s long-term vision? Focus on increasing your capture of the data most likely to support core competencies, simplify complicated processes, and drive future goals.

Use more data

There’s no need to be limited by the demands of inflexible databases or storage systems. Apache Hadoop lets you use all types of data, both structured and unstructured – yes, even semi-structured, to extract actionable business insights from all of your data. The more, the merrier, right? Thankfully, Hadoop also enables extremely cost-effective data storage.

Last but not least…

When your data tells you something important, do you have a plan in place that enables a quick and effective response? Information isn’t actionable unless you can actually act on it. Part of any analytics project should include the creation of a reporting and implementation process that enables a company to respond to critical trends and threats nimbly. You can find out more about the insights and use cases that Hadoop offers to manufacturers here.

For even more information on real world usage of big data, along with tips on evaluating Hadoop technology, download the free “Executive’s Guide to Big Data & Apache Hadoop ebook.” And if you’re longing to get your hands on Hadoop right now, in a secure Hadoop sandboxed environment, go here.