CIOs See A Need For Data In Their Factories

After the virus fades, factories are going to need more data
After the virus fades, factories are going to need more dataImage Credit: Cathy

CIOs who are responsible for their company’s factories are starting to understand that they will be spending far more on data management and analytics tools in the aftermath of the coronavirus outbreak, and will be using those tools for deeper insight into operations, sales and supply chain disruptions. The reason that they will be doing this is because they understand the importance of information technology and they want to be able to enhance their ability to remotely monitor plant equipment, which engineers had limited access to during the pandemic. All of this is going to require a lot of changes. What will CIOs have to do?

Getting Data Into The Factory

As the threat of the Covid-19 virus starts to fade, more employees will be returning to work on-site when authorities allow it. CIOs know that making more data available will be a clear game-changer. So what kind of data are we talking about? Companies can use data—produced by shop-floor scanners and other hardware tools—to more accurately measure and improve the performance of production-line machinery. That machinery includes hydraulics systems, compressed air and power transformers.

Although the arrival of the virus was disruptive to most companies, the coronavirus measures have been a catalyst that has kick-started a revolution in unlocking value hidden in factory data. These benefits are expected to spur annual spending by global manufacturers on data management, analytics and other advanced capabilities to nearly $20 billion by 2026, up from roughly $5 billion this year.

When it comes to adding more data to the factory, expenditures will be focused on software licenses, cloud services, connectivity and professional services geared toward data and analytics, as well as scanners and other interconnected hardware devices. Advanced data tools will give factories a clearer view of operations and equipment performance, allowing them to speed up production, reduce waste, improve their product quality and avoid downtime by more quickly identifying maintenance issues, among other things.

How Will The World Be Changed?

Once more data has started to flow into factories, they will also be able to identify and extract relevant data sets to feed into artificial intelligence software designed to predict production and supply chain problems. This will be a significant change. Factories will be able to go from reactive analytics, reporting on what happened, to proactively analyzing what might happen and the suggested actions to take.

The pandemic has changed everything. It made manufacturers aware of the need for more sophisticated ways to monitor operations especially when plants are accessible to only a handful of workers. CIOs now understand that from a data analytics perspective, it is a realization that they cannot rely on guesswork. Things are going to be speeding up for the person with the CIO job. CIOs will be more quickly adopting new software and hardware, with many rolling out new tech projects in a matter of months, rather than years.

The goal for CIOs will be to find ways to take unprecedented amounts of data and then derive insights that can shift decision-making. This will be achieved using the streams of data coming from shop-floor sensors, machinery, supply-chain fleets and other systems. Most manufacturers are using that data to get a better view of equipment performance and maintenance needs, quality control and workplace safety.

What All Of This Means For You

CIOs have tended to spend their time looking at the company’s data centers and how best to get the most value from them. The arrival of the Covid-19 virus and its massive disruption to most businesses has caused CIOs to become more aware of the company’s factories and the need to get more data into the factories in order to assist with improved decision making. The challenge that they are facing is trying to determine just exactly how to go about doing this.

The Covid-19 virus shut down many businesses. As workers return to work, CIOs know that they need to make more data available in factories. The data that will be needed includes data produced by hardware tools that can be used to improve the performance of production-line machinery. The virus has caused the person in the CIO position to accelerate plans to get more data into the factory. The goal of providing this data is to allow companies to speed up production, reduce waste, improve their product quality and avoid downtime. This data is going to allow CIOs to speed things up and will allow them to derive insights that can shift company decision-making.

Companies that have factories have always relied on them to provide information to the rest of the company. What CIOs are starting to realize is that the data flow actually has to be a two-way street. The company needs to provide the factory with data so that it can continually improve its operations. New projects are being planned that will allow this to happen. Going forward, CIOs are going to have to get good at managing one more source of corporate data: their factories.

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World IT Department Leadership Skills™

Question For You: How should CIOs go about securing the data that is coming out of their factories?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

Although we like to think of the CIO job as being a technology job where we spend our time trying to communicate the importance of information technology, there is a lot of human contact required. With the arrival of the Covid-19 virus this part of the job, which was never easy, has all of sudden become that much harder to do. In this new era of social distancing, how can CIOs build the human networks that they need?