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Manufacturers Using Analytics to Drive Operational Efficiency and Opportunities

The OpenText Analytics Team recently delivered an excellent webinar discussing the role of Big Data analytics for manufacturing companies. It looked at how, combined with solutions such as the Internet of Things (IoT), analytics can become an incredibly powerful tool to drive operational efficiency. That’s great but it’s only the start.

The power in analytics lies in enabling new capabilities for manufacturing companies.

The effective management of Big Data is at the very core of digital transformation in manufacturing. Big Data analytics provide the information and insight needed to improve productivity and efficiency.

Recent research from OpenText™ Business Network and IDC shows that it is an area where manufacturing companies are beginning to see the fruits of their investment. When asked, respondents to the IDC research stated that around 80% of all manufacturing companies will be using Big Data analytics within their business – a 16% rise on today.

Along with B2B Cloud Networks and other Cloud applications, analytics was seen as the major driver for digital transformation (See Figure 1).

Figure 1: Technologies used in the digital transformation of manufacturing supply chains. Source: IDC

Big data analytics delivers

One of the most interesting findings of the survey was that ‘improved productivity’ was the key benefit that manufacturing companies looked for from their Big Data analytics investment. At just under 70%, it was well clear of ‘improved business planning’ (50%) and ‘increased agility’ (49%) in second and third place. That’s not the interesting part though.

For me, it was interesting to see that – while respondents had struggled to achieve other expected benefits such as ‘expanded market reach – companies had been able to achieve the improved productivity they expected. Slightly over 70% of companies said they had received tangible improvements in productivity.

This echoes the results that OpenText has achieved working with manufacturing companies throughout the world. For example, advanced, predictive analytics has helped Knorr-Bremse deliver a 20% reduction in maintenance costs to customers. The company is a leading global supplier of braking systems for trains and vehicles and one of the most advanced at implementing Industry 4.0 – the German standard for IoT.

The company was able to quickly combine deep analytics with its IoT-based iCOM fleet management platform. It collected data wirelessly from over 30 on-board sensors and sub-systems and was able to analyse the data in near real-time to move from static to condition-based maintenance.

That means that customers could predict when things were likely to go wrong and take the appropriate actions to replace or repair before they failed. Importantly, customers could create their own reports and dashboards so they could interrogate the information they required and present it in a way that was easy for customers, maintenance staff and executives to understand.

Another Industry 4.0 leader, iTAC Software AG worked with OpenText to integrate advanced analytics into its Enterprise Manufacturing Execution (EME) System. The solution allowed the company to focus on essential KPIs – such as production optimization, quality assurance and equipment management – at a granular level as well as facilitating the easy traceability of all components. Insight from the analytics was available in a wide range of formats on a wide range of devices to ensure the right people could access the data in the way they wanted.

Beyond performance: Analytics adds capabilities

Once analytics became embedded within both companies, they began to see potential beyond their current installations. A major trend that IDC identified within manufacturing companies. When asked what they were using analytics for today, almost half of manufacturing companies said it was for ‘improving overall business performance’. It appears that most expect that, in three years time – they will have achieved this goal.

Only 29% of companies say improving performance will drive analytics adoption in 2020. This is being replaced by ‘enabling new capabilities’ that rises over 400% from 10% today to just under 45% in three years time.

Figure 2: Investment plans for Big Data analytics in manufacturing. Source: IDC.

Again, this echoes our experience at OpenText. Knorr-Bremse is already looking to extend its iCOM platform from rail to other vehicles. Moreover, it is looking to leverage the insight within iCOM to pursue strategic relationships with other subsystem manufacturers – potentially opening up completely new revenue streams based on its analytics data.

At iCOM, the analytics capabilities of its EME platform allows clients to interrogate large amount of data centrally and offer support for future expansion. For the first time, it allows customers to standardize, merge and analyse KPIs from different manufacturing plants to compare information across time periods and locations as required.

To find out more about how iTAC is using analytics to drive operational efficiency, I recommend you take a little time to watch our webinar. It’s available here .

I will be investigating the benefits of Analytics for Manufacturing in the coming year so please feel to reach out to me for further discussion at I look forward to hearing from you.

We are only a few weeks away from our showcase event Enterprise World and Analytics is a prominent feature of the event. We will be looking at the future direction and the benefits that cognitive analytics can offer companies in every industry. There’s still time to register.

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Tom Leeson

Tom is Industry Marketing Strategist for the Manufacturing Sector globally. An Engineer by Trade, and Mathematician by Education, Tom’s entire career has been spent in Engineering, Manufacturing and IT helping customers digitally transform their business and their manufacturing sector. With Industry 4.0 and the Industrial Internet of Things, Manufacturing lives in exciting times, so there is much to talk about.

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