As manufacturing processes have become increasingly complex as a result of evolving consumer expectations and an ever-changing competitive landscape, business have become more and more reliant on data to navigate the complexity and guide their decisions.

This is often easier said than done as many manufacturers rely on outdated production tracking and business management techniques. For instance, some manufacturers record business data via paper-based methods while others rely on very basic Excel spreadsheets to manage their data entry.

These outdated approaches to production tracking are often cumbersome and impractical when it comes to drawing real, meaningful insights from the data you’re collecting across your operations.

In this post, we’ll review the benefits of adopting a more comprehensive approach to business intelligence within a manufacturing environment and how businesses are thinking about their investment in tools that can provide a more holistic, real-time view of their production activities.

What is manufacturing business intelligence?

Business intelligence is the process of obtaining and visualizing historical and real-time data – across various aspects of a business – to gain insights and inform business decisions.

Applied to a manufacturing context, business intelligence can span everything from supply chain management, activities surrounding worker productivity and machine performance, quality management processes, compliance records, fulfillment, and more.

While enterprise manufacturers have invested heavily in their business intelligence capabilities for many decades, smaller businesses have lagged behind, relying on manual, paper-based record keeping that yields little value when it comes to informing business decisions.

Additionally, due to the rapid evolution of manufacturing technology brought on by Industry 4.0, business intelligence solutions have become more powerful and more accessible than ever before.

How manufacturers use business intelligence

Due to the sheer quantity of data produced within a modern production facility, businesses rely heavily on implementing the right tools and strategy to make sense of it all.

These tools collect data and integrate it into a common repository. This grants easy access to authorized parties who visualize the data in understandable charts and graphs. These solutions also enable supervisors to analyze everything happening within their facilities and make informed decisions to improve their opreations.

For example, business intelligence solutions allow manufacturers to monitor historical and real-time machine performance. By leveraging manufacturing BI, workers are able to understand Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE), identify the source of machine downtime, and improve the way they approach equipment maintenance.

By capturing these insights, manufacturers are able to reduce downtime, improve productivity, and decrease production costs.

Benefits of a business intelligence solution

Manufacturing BI solutions provide many advantages for businesses looking to optimize their production processes. Some of these benefits include:

Increased productivity: Manufacturing BI solutions can track operators and machines, providing reports on uptime, downtime, and performance. This highlights areas of the production line that need intervention, allowing manufacturers to investigate and issue corrective action to keep production on schedule.

Reduced manufacturing waste: Some manufacturing BI solutions enable businesses to leverage artificial intelligence and machine learning to analyze their operations, streamlining anomaly detection and quality inspection efforts.

Leveraging these data analysis tools, supervisors are more easily able to identify the source of quality issues and waste. Fixing these issues favors leaner production, increasing profitability.

Easier inventory management: Manufacturers with high-mix product offerings can harness the power of business intelligence to track parts, materials, and inventory as it flows across production lines. This provides manufacturers with real-time visibility into their inventory for better planning and management.

Additionally, business intelligence solutions can use predictive analytics to assess material requirements. This enables manufacturers to avoid overstocking and understocking – issues that significantly impact productivity and order fulfillment.

Improved quality management: Business intelligence tools are typically integrated throughout a manufacturers’ quality management practices. Using data from both operator quality inspections and computer vision-based anomaly detection, supervisors are easily able to get to the bottom of quality issues and implement corrective actions to prevent quality issues from happening again in the future.

Ultimately, ensuring that only parts and materials that meet the necessary quality standards flow downstream and get distributed to the end consumer goes a long way in improving customer satisfaction.

Easier to isolate downtime causes: BI solutions are able to monitor machine performance through sensors and edge devices, obtaining critical, real-time performance data. This allows uptime and downtime analysis, providing supervisors with insights into individual machine performance on the production line.

Comparative analysis of different equipment along the line identifies poorly performing machinery and potential bottlenecks. This makes it easier to implement corrective measures, negating the need for shutting down the line to identify issues.

Continuous improvement: Manufacturing businesses must evolve to meet consumer demands and expectations. As such, manufacturers must constantly improve their processes and products to keep up.

Manufacturing business intelligence tools provide historical and real-time data, providing production targets and benchmarks for overall business improvement. This includes improved shop floor productivity and overall business performance.

Using Tulip to understand your business processes

At the end of the day, businesses are only able to improve their operations if they’re able to reliably collect and analyze production data. Without a comprehensive view of the things happening across the shop floor, it’s impossible to identify areas of inefficiency and make changes to improve equipment and operator performance.

That’s why leading manufacturers have turned to Tulip to connect the people, machines, and systems across their operations to automate data collection and enable real-time production visibility.

Our no-code platform easily connected to edge devices, sensors, and Industrial IoT to ensure every touchpoint is accounted for, providing supervisors with the information they need to increase efficiency and drive continuous improvement.

If you’re interested in learning how Tulip can help provide the business intelligence you need to improve your operations, reach out to a member of our team today!