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Business Intelligence in Manufacturing - How to Improve Manufacturing Processes

Business Intelligence - Manufacturing Dashboards

The manufacturing industry is experiencing a digital transformation. Many manufacturers still rely on spreadsheets and observational methods to make business and operational decisions. This method can lead to an "after the fact" analysis with outdated information. With Industry 4.0 best practices and the changing business landscape, manufacturers need to embrace emerging technology in order to remain competitive.

By its very nature, manufacturing is now seen as a very data-driven process. Therefore, manufacturing intelligence requires tools to gain improved insights into managing costs, operations, and profitability.

With business intelligence software, these same companies can accumulate and assess data and make it immediately accessible to those who have the means and opportunity to take immediate action. In manufacturing, BI is needed to effectively and cost-efficiently coordinate raw materials and internal resources to meet customer quality and delivery demands.

Improving Manufacturing Processes with Business Intelligence

Business intelligence gives manufacturers the ability to take information and data that might once have been siloed across the factory floor, and assimilate it into one convenient access source. There, individual departments can access the information they need to make decisions pertinent to their area. At the same time, supervisors and management can check to ensure the overall systems are performing at peak productivity.

While manufacturers might pay a great deal of attention to maintaining equipment and training personnel, they frequently fail to apply the same dedication to their business intelligence processes. This lack of commitment to amassing and assessing data can lead to production delays and cost over-runs.

However, the right information (at the right time) can lead to many tangible benefits:

  • Operational Efficiency: Tracking individual machine and department performance allows managers to reduce and correct errors during the production cycle. Shipping and receiving can also project the need to order raw materials for optimal efficiency and increase the ability to meet just-in-time order demands.

  • Productivity Management: Management can use BI to track downtime per employee, machine, and department to determine where changes need to be made. Predictive analysis can be used to foresee and avoid potential production bottlenecks and assure ongoing productivity.

  • Inventory Control: Goods and materials that sit in inventory can be a huge budget drain. The trick is to use BI to make sure there are adequate raw materials to meet production requirements and sufficient inventory on hand to meet customer needs.

  • Manufacturing Cycle Tracking: The manufacturing cycle must be as short as possible to maintain profitability while still enabling the production of a quality product.

  • Quality Assurance: Managers need to know how many components are being produced to standards and how many end up in the scrap heap. Reducing the cost of lost or subpar products can indirectly help with overall profitability.

  • Equipment Monitoring And Effectiveness: Equipment must operate at maximum efficiency with minimal downtime for maintenance or production backlogs. Equipment performance management allows you to track metrics to monitor and improve overall equipment efficiency.

  • Compliance Management: Many manufacturers need to comply with safety and performance requirements. BI provides the knowledge to enable the manufacturer to maintain compliance standards.

As you can see the most critical role of BI in improving manufacturing processes is that monitoring and increasing all the individual components leads to long-term improvements in profitability.

Wyn Enterprise Manufacturing Process Temperature Dashboard

Manufacturing Dashboard - Process Temperature Dashboard - Wyn Enterprise

How Business Intelligence Improves Manufacturing Efficiency

BI tools can help manufacturing organizations make more informed and immediate decisions on how to improve their ordering, production, shipping, and management operations.

Business intelligence software collects data and provides useful insights through:

Web-Based Portals

With the remarkable efficiency of the connected digital world, decision-makers can access any browser on a desktop or mobile device to review necessary information wherever they are. A web-based portal can provide an enhanced self-service experience where floor workers receive access to the same systems as management, so there is no disparity in information and results. Documents can be exported to Excel, Word, PDF, and CSV formats when needed to take the content offline (and be portable).

Interactive Dashboards

Dashboards provide vital information in an at-a-glance format. For example, line supervisors may only need to make use of KPIs such as yield, throughput, and utilization for their specific lines. However, the plant manager may need to get a quick overview of productivity and then drill down to specific information. Top management will want to see how data from particular plants and product lines translates into overall productivity. Dashboards provide a quick overview of:

  • Data visualization: An interactive dashboard can reveal existing trends in a manufacturing operation or uncover new ones, empowering management to make data-driven decisions. The collection of information into easily understandable and colorful charts, graphs, or animations provides the opportunity to highlight essential facts for next-level determinations. Take a look at several interactive manufacturing BI dashboard examples here.

  • Machine monitoring: This information enables managers and maintenance to determine which machines are operating at peak productivity and may need some work to bolster performance. Manufacturing cycle time data will reveal the total time elapsed from inception to production, while variants such as overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) and production yield unveil crucial operational details.

  • Personnel monitoring: Equally as important as understanding machine efficiency is studying the effectiveness of human resources. This data shows the productivity and downtime of individual employees and production lines or entire plants.

  • KPI tracking: Key performance indicators are used to highlight the areas of inventory, production, compliance, and productivity that are most important to the individual manufacturing concern’s success.

Manufacturing Dashboard - Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) Dashboard

Manufacturing Dashboard - Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) Dashboard - Wyn Enterprise
End-User Reports

Although dashboards can provide a quick overview of real-time data and metrics, reports take the long-view and assemble information into digestible summaries or transitional details. These might include:

  • Inventory reports: These reports show how much inventory is at hand to meet production and profitability needs. Components must arrive precisely when needed, and the finished product should go out the door just in time to meet demand. High inventory indicates wasted resources, while low inventory could hamper responsiveness.

  • Invoices: Invoices need to be accurate and timely. As soon as a job is completed, accounts receivable should be able to access all pertinent parts and personnel information easily and produce a reliable invoice.

  • Predictive reports: Some predictive reports can be used to predict failures within an assembly line process. This action is accomplished by analyzing the end results of the line and its returns. Other reports assist in risk management by uncovering the risks and rewards of introducing a new procedure or product line.

Business intelligence software is used to improve manufacturing processes by assessing the profit contribution of individual segments, product lines, and customers through information that reveals the overall margin spread. The manufacturing concern can achieve economies of scale for optimum business growth.

Wyn Enterprise provides self-service analytics and a decision support system for project teams, departments, and the entire enterprise. The result includes improvements to your operations throughout the manufacturing supply chain and beyond. Manufacturing BI software delivers collaborative self-service reporting and in-depth data visualizations that manufacturers need to succeed.

Understand the Story Behind Your Data

Wyn is a web-based BI and data analytics platform that provides greater insight into your data.

Wyn offers built-in tools for report and dashboard creation, data governance, security integration, embedded BI, automated document distribution, and a business-user friendly interface for self-service business intelligence.

Test drive on your own data with our free evaluation.

You can also request a personalized demo to address your individual BI needs.

About the author

Bhupesh Malhotra

Bhupesh is a Product Manager for GrapeCity’s BI-focused products. He loves to tell the story behind data through data visualization techniques. He likes to hear from customers and talk about their experiences with reporting and analytics. When he isn't thinking about data, he spends time with his family and enjoys traveling to new places with them. You can connect with Bhupesh on Twitter
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