‘Data is the new currency’

Industry experts advise manufacturers to enrich their plants with better data collection, management.


At the International Maintenance Conference in Florida in December, Bentley Systems CEO Greg Bentley talked about the expanded use of data in manufacturing. Courtesy: Bentley SystemsIt is an era of rich data in manufacturing, and the companies that can harness that data will enrich themselves and their plants.

"Data is the new currency," said Jagannath Rao, president of Siemens USA's customer service division at the 30th International Maintenance Conference in Bonita Springs, Fla., in December. "This is the future of manufacturing: machines talking to machines, robots working in collaboration with each other, machines knowing the state of their own health. It's the next level of asset analysis. This is going to be the future, and some companies already are on board."

The ability to not just collect data, but also to manage it for the benefit of both operations and end users is one of the transformative ideas discussed by three industry experts at the Reliability and Asset Performance (RAP) Talks, which were the keynote on the second day of the IMC conference.

"We all want more productivity. We want our manufacturing to be more flexible. And, of course, we want this to happen efficiently and, more important, seamlessly," Rao told about 1,000 maintenance and reliability professionals at the conference. "It all begins with data, and more data. All of our factories are connected with sensors. We collect this data. We need to transmit this data and either predict something or have it tell us trends or show us patterns about what we could change."

Greg Bentley, president and CEO of Bentley Systems, showed examples of how 3-D modeling in brownfield operations could produce reliable models of the current state of a plant and tie that data into operational models.

Bentley sees the process going beyond information technology (IT) and operational technology (OT). "We need to leverage the digital engineering model," Bentley said. "When we talk about digital engineering models, we're talking about things like schematics, 3-D models, network models. We need to go beyond IT and OT to engineering technology, or ET."

At IBM, the challenge is to make sure the data is serving its highest purpose for customers. That's not always just data for the sake of data, said Pete Karns, vice president of offering management for IBM.

"We know the data is there. Do we start with data or start with what we want to learn?" he said. "I see far too many of our clients collecting the data without understanding what it is they want to learn."

Karns said the Internet of Things (IoT) allows data to be viewed as an asset unto itself—something that needs to be studied and understood, not simply collected. "IoT is doing something differently with data than you've done before," he said. "We can talk about connectivity and millions of sensors, but it's just about doing something different with data. What we're seeing first is the types of data are there, but it's hard to work with.

"We all have biases, and we immediately use our 30 years of experience to say what we think is happening," Karns added. "Where we're moving with analytics is removing the bias. We're evolving to a much more powerful way of using the data to help us look beyond our own biases."

Rao said manufacturers need to prepare for this new era of data management-and warned that those who don't will miss a huge competitive opportunity. "By 2025, 85% of manufacturing will be connected," Rao said. "If you're not on the bandwagon, you will lose your competitive advantage." 

The Top Plant program honors outstanding manufacturing facilities in North America. View the 2015 Top Plant.
The Product of the Year program recognizes products newly released in the manufacturing industries.
Each year, a panel of Control Engineering and Plant Engineering editors and industry expert judges select the System Integrator of the Year Award winners in three categories.
Doubling down on digital manufacturing; Data driving predictive maintenance; Electric motors and generators; Rewarding operational improvement
2017 Lubrication Guide; Software tools; Microgrids and energy strategies; Use robots effectively
Prescriptive maintenance; Hannover Messe 2017 recap; Reduce welding errors
The cloud, mobility, and remote operations; SCADA and contextual mobility; Custom UPS empowering a secure pipeline
Infrastructure for natural gas expansion; Artificial lift methods; Disruptive technology and fugitive gas emissions
Mobility as the means to offshore innovation; Preventing another Deepwater Horizon; ROVs as subsea robots; SCADA and the radio spectrum
Research team developing Tesla coil designs; Implementing wireless process sensing
Commissioning electrical systems; Designing emergency and standby generator systems; Paralleling switchgear generator systems
Natural gas engines; New applications for fuel cells; Large engines become more efficient; Extending boiler life

Annual Salary Survey

Before the calendar turned, 2016 already had the makings of a pivotal year for manufacturing, and for the world.

There were the big events for the year, including the United States as Partner Country at Hannover Messe in April and the 2016 International Manufacturing Technology Show in Chicago in September. There's also the matter of the U.S. presidential elections in November, which promise to shape policy in manufacturing for years to come.

But the year started with global economic turmoil, as a slowdown in Chinese manufacturing triggered a worldwide stock hiccup that sent values plummeting. The continued plunge in world oil prices has resulted in a slowdown in exploration and, by extension, the manufacture of exploration equipment.

Read more: 2015 Salary Survey

Maintenance and reliability tips and best practices from the maintenance and reliability coaches at Allied Reliability Group.
The One Voice for Manufacturing blog reports on federal public policy issues impacting the manufacturing sector. One Voice is a joint effort by the National Tooling and Machining...
The Society for Maintenance and Reliability Professionals an organization devoted...
Join this ongoing discussion of machine guarding topics, including solutions assessments, regulatory compliance, gap analysis...
IMS Research, recently acquired by IHS Inc., is a leading independent supplier of market research and consultancy to the global electronics industry.
Maintenance is not optional in manufacturing. It’s a profit center, driving productivity and uptime while reducing overall repair costs.
The Lachance on CMMS blog is about current maintenance topics. Blogger Paul Lachance is president and chief technology officer for Smartware Group.
The maintenance journey has been a long, slow trek for most manufacturers and has gone from preventive maintenance to predictive maintenance.
Featured articles highlight technologies that enable the Industrial Internet of Things, IIoT-related products and strategies to get data more easily to the user.
This digital report will explore several aspects of how IIoT will transform manufacturing in the coming years.
Maintenance Manager; California Oils Corp.
Associate, Electrical Engineering; Wood Harbinger
Control Systems Engineer; Robert Bosch Corp.
This course focuses on climate analysis, appropriateness of cooling system selection, and combining cooling systems.
This course will help identify and reveal electrical hazards and identify the solutions to implementing and maintaining a safe work environment.
This course explains how maintaining power and communication systems through emergency power-generation systems is critical.
click me