Why Data Collection is Important to Your Facility


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This blog post was written by Dale Brovold.

Here’s a quick look at the value data collection can drive for your manufacturing or processing facility. 

Over the last several years, we’ve noticed an increased desire for many customers to improve their data collection process.  The main goal for many of these companies is to have a record of their current manufacturing process.  Surprisingly, though, many companies still don’t have a system for collecting or storing any of this data.  The most common reason these companies don’t implement data collection is the cost.  They assume that data collection systems are expensive.  Basic data collection doesn’t have to be expensive; it can start with  collecting basic critical data and then expand as your needs grow.  If you are still wondering why data collection is important to your company’s manufacturing process, here are a few reasons to consider implementing such a system.

Complying With Regulations

No, we can’t avoid government regulation, and it only appears to be getting more complicated.  Relying on information written down on a piece paper, reviewed and placed in a filing cabinet somewhere is not going to be practical in the future.  If the data is automatically collected by your system, reports can be automatically generated.  Some government agencies still require paper copies that will need to be filed, but having the ability to scan through multiple years of data in a matter of minutes is better than having to look through hundreds of printouts stored in filing cabinets.

Determining What Actually Happened Last Night

Some times when we’re onsite working with a customer, a supervisor will come into the engineering group to explain the cause of the previous night’s downtime.  The conversations usually start with the supervisor explaining that systems were operating normally until they suddenly experienced an unexpected issue.  Having a data collection system in place gives you the ability to quickly pull up the data from last night’s shift and determine the cause of the issue.  It could be a training issue or a systems issue. Either way the cause is determined, and a solution can be quickly implemented to prevent the issue from happening again.  Companies that don’t have this information will often continue through this cycle, struggling to find the root cause of their problems. This can lead to  more unresolved downtime for the company.

Improving the Process

In the past, only large companies that had expensive, time-consuming processes implemented lean initiatives to reduce cost and time to market.  In today’s competitive market, everyone is looking for ways to reduce costs in order to remain competitive.  Many smaller organizations are placing an even higher priority on operations in order to have a fighting chance at competing with larger companies.  Being able to compare your actual process to your designed process will help in achieving lean initiatives. It will also help you track your progress.

The Future – Predictive Analytics

The buzzword has been around for a few years, but soon it will be more reality than a buzzword.  Some companies have been utilizing this process for years in their quarterly and annual budgeting process.  Predictive Analytics is slightly different because it uses a computer and algorithms to process data to generate results in minutes.  Sometimes results can even be generated in real-time.  This allows you to react quickly to a changing manufacturing environment.  It is important to have enough historical data saved electronically in order for a Predictive Analytics system to be able to process the data.  The more historical data in the system, the more accurate the system will be.  By starting data collection today, you are building a solid foundation for your using Predictive Analytics in the future.

The cost of collecting data is dropping quickly as the computer systems and software are becoming cheaper and easier to use.  If you haven’t checked into implementing data collection for your manufacturing process, now might be the perfect time to take another look.