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How manufacturers are turning data visualization into data utilization

By the Arbela BI Team

This was supposed to be a big year for big data, BI (business intelligence), and analytics in manufacturing.

We were promised a proliferation of IoT (Internet of Things)-enabled equipment and devices… We were told AI (artificial intelligence), AR (augmented reality) and VR (virtual reality) would further productivity by furthering connectivity between man and machine… And we were assured there would be massive increases into data visibility.

While some manufacturing tools and systems are IoT-enabled, it could be decades before all necessary equipment is. And while AI/AR/VR are “sexy,” they’re essentially only theoretically being put into practice. But data visualization did not disappoint, and has been an area of focus wherein manufacturers across all verticals saw a massive influx of technologies and tools.

But where have all of these data visualization tools gotten us? What good is being equipped to view the data if you aren’t equipped to act on it, too?

The dirty secret

Perhaps the primary reason data visualization and analytics has exploded in the manufacturing space is that there’s simply an endless amount of it: on desktops in shop floors, ECUs in trucks in the supply chain, reports created across all teams and by all machines.

The dirty little secret is that the data has always been there, and the only thing many technology providers are doing is simply collecting it.

It is now, and always has been, up to YOU, the manufacturer to 1) understand the story behind those reams of data in your dashboards, and 2) figure out how that story, that data, will drive business improvements.

With a module created specifically for the needs of the manufacturing industry, Arbela Data Insights (ADI) offers action on top of information, helping you to easily construct a usable narrative from your data, and thereby enabling you to identify requirements instead of just after-the-fact insights.

Analytics must be predictive AND prescriptive

The ADI system is fueled by data from Dynamics 365, AX 2012, among many other sources. It then delivers reports that reveal trends impacting your production lines, your supply chain, your revenue streams, and your overall business.

And it’s this reporting data that we are then able to run through predictive models that identify risks and opportunities, and guide decision making.

Seeing data is great, and, frankly, a given for any data visualization tool. But turning that data into a forecasting mechanism is where ADI starts to pull away from the pack.

Where ADI laps the pack is in prescriptive analytics in which courses of action are not only recommended, but outcomes are clearly estimated as well, showing each decision maker the possibilities and implications of any given course of action.

To be blunt: if your data is delivered with neither predictive or prescriptive attributes attached to it, you may as well not even have it. Data visualization is essentially just a journey — data utilization is the destination.

All systems go

ADI is embedded in Dynamics 365 (both CE and FO), and provides features such as variance reporting (i.e., compare/contrast material and labor standards vs output), and output capacity details (by work center, route operations, etc.).

It can also shed light on “production now” data via IoT-enabled devices. As stated, IoT is moving forward in manufacturing — just not at the breakneck pace many analysts predicted.

Actionable data on sales, labor and materials, BOM consumption, production, and more is delivered with reports and dashboards that can be accessed and shared from the web and with apps for Windows, iOS and Android.

It all starts with a Manufacturing Maturity Assessment in which we compare the level of maturity of your manufacturing operations to others in your industry, and follow that by presenting you with a fast-path to digitally transform operations and outpace the competition.

Contact us to get started or for more information.