Manufacturing Data ManagementThe Manufacturing Data Challenge (survey results)


How do companies make progress toward Industry 4.0? Based on our research, those who invest in people, processes, and technology for manufacturing data management have made more strides in Industry 4.0. Manufacturing Data Management: Lessons from Top Performers explores the many challenges of bringing together all the data production facilities need.

Please enjoy the summary* below. For the full research, please visit our sponsor Critical Manufacturing (registration required).

Table of Contents

  • Vision for Business Breakthroughs
  • Keys to Industry 4.0 Success
  • Manufacturing Data Management Activity
  • Vertical Integration
  • Challenges in the Current State
  • Defining Plant Operations Success
  • Top Performers Make Progress
  • Organizational Issues
  • Staffing for Manufacturing Data Programs
  • Viewpoints on Skills
  • Manufacturing Data Management Initiatives
  • What Does It Take?
  • Technology: Feeding Success?
  • Manufacturing Data Approaches
  • Business Impact
  • Conclusions
  • Recommendations
  • About the Research
  • Acknowledgments

Executive Overview

Prioritizing Manufacturing Data Management

What have manufacturers been struggling with for years that Industry 4.0 insists they solve now? Manufacturing data management. Combining data from information technology (IT) and operations technology (OT) is essential to analysis and insights. Thus, coherent and consistent plant data is a foundation for achieving the agility and business value companies want. Yet it is anything but straightforward. And it’s not the only thing companies need to meet the challenge of manufacturing data. 

Research Reveals

This research aims to learn about current challenges, strategies, and programs for manufacturing data management. Over 300 responded, from manufacturers in various industry segments and of all sizes, working with data from plants in every corner of the world. We uncovered a significant and nearly universal outstanding need: better ways to integrate IT and OT data. We also discovered that there are paths that appear to lead to greater success for those who travel them most aggressively. 

Top Performers have made mindset, organization, and staffing changes. They are also far more likely to be using commercial software solutions and adopting modern approaches to accelerate their ability to manage manufacturing data effectively. As a result, a larger percentage of these Top Performers have already made dramatic improvements in business performance. They are in a position to make more gains.

Vision for Business Breakthroughs

The Status Quo is Risky

Many companies are now pursuing digital transformation for a new and dramatically different future. With tremendous amounts of data at every level, but especially in production plants, manufacturers know they must do a better job using that data for business decisions. And manufacturing data poses special issues.

Most Are on a Path to Industry 4.0

This vision of manufacturing transformation based on digital approaches is often called Industry 4.0. Most manufacturers in every industry and size range indicate that they have multiple Industry 4.0 projects underway.

Traditional and Innovative Goals

The goals are for agility and performance improvements on business-critical key performance indicators (KPIs). Some companies are also running a data-driven business to make more revenue from services or find other ways to add value.

Recommendations for Manufacturing Data Management

The Path Forward

Manufacturers must take action to compete with or stay a Top Performer. Formulating a clear strategy with business benefits for Industry 4.0 is a foundation. We recommend that manufacturers follow the lead of Top Performers:

  • Prioritize manufacturing data management and invest in both the staffing and the programs to succeed.
  • Adopt proven commercial technologies such as MES, PLM, and APS where possible first. They will free up precious time and resources and provide a solid foundation for advanced approaches and analytics.
  • Structure a program with projects that feed business needs, then proceed logically, in order of the process. For example, ensure data collection and enrichment are in place before investing in analytics projects.
  • Create an environment where collaboration among disciplines feels natural, and the shared vision is more compelling than the inherent differences.

It’s The Beginning of a Long Journey

Manufacturing Data ManagementEven for Top Performers, challenges remain. These include data and systems integration, putting IT and OT data into a common context, agreeing on “sources of truth,” and identifying data owners.

Note also that this is early days for coherent manufacturing data management. Yes, several times as many of the Top Performers have a program, staff members, capabilities, or dramatic gains on KPIs. Yet they are still only a minority.

There is more to do for every manufacturer. Faster decisions have always made a difference. However, doing things as we’ve done them may no longer suffice.

Seek New Approaches to Manufacturing Data Management

So, beyond doing what has been possible, we also encourage companies to seek new approaches. Solution providers are advancing their offerings. Some have integrated more functionality into plant systems. New offerings are becoming available to support manufacturing data management now and in the near future.

Be ready to explore new approaches. Validate their fit and ability to help meet your manufacturing data management challenges. Leverage both new and existing technologies and approaches to progress toward your Industry 4.0 vision.

*This summary is an abbreviated version of the research and does not contain the full content. For the full research, please visit our sponsor Critical Manufacturing (registration required).

If you have difficulty obtaining a copy of the research, please contact us.