Business Intelligence

The Power & Potential of Business Intelligence for Manufacturing

To implement successful Manufacturing processes and make meaningful business decisions, you need intelligent data on your side - business intelligence.

The manufacturing industry is complex and interconnected. Overseeing the facilitation, maintenance and performance of every moving part can be time-consuming, not to mention exhausting. 

With so many operations taking place simultaneously, relying on manual spreadsheets and disconnected management systems is an outdated exercise in patience that eats away at profitability. 

To implement successful processes and make meaningful business decisions, you need intelligent data on your side. 

This is where business intelligence (BI) can help, assisting manufacturers to bridge the gap between business insight and action to enable a data-driven approach to improve operations and performance. 

What is Business Intelligence?

Business Intelligence (BI) is the process of transforming raw business data into meaningful insights that inspire action, inform strategy and help businesses make important decisions regarding their processes. 

BI comprises data mining, data analytics, data visualisation as well as tools and infrastructure for managing data. Its ultimate goal is to improve business operations through data aggregation, representation and analysis.

As data becomes more freely available for businesses to assess and use, manufacturers who’re able to tap into this vast reservoir of data and extract significant insight will be able to outperform competitors and maintain their relevance in today’s rapidly-evolving manufacturing landscape. 

Does the Manufacturing Industry Need Business Intelligence?

Manufacturing is an extremely data-dense industry. From production to scheduling, to distribution and supply chain management and delivery, data is the key driver facilitating action at every step.

While surface-level data might inform the actions being taken, failing to properly utilise your data to make better decisions is a wasted opportunity to improve business performance. 

Using BI to comb through and assess your data will enable your operations to be leaner, more efficient and more productive throughout your organisation. 

Extracted and cleaned data can help you to identify gaps, errors or inefficiencies from production through to shipping and delivery and determine ways to improve your processes across the board. 

Within manufacturing, many companies still rely on antiquated data management systems, consisting of numerous spreadsheets as well as disconnected systems to manually pull out relevant data and type up insightful reports from scratch. 

There’s often resistance to new systems and ways of working with data that are, in the long run, faster and easier to use. 

Manufacturers who use ERP systems to help with data management are already a step ahead in terms of competitiveness and capability. Having a built-in system that acts as a central repository for all data makes it easier to access the data needed.

However assessing, representing and analysing the data in question still needs to be undertaken manually - something which takes your time and focus away from core business processes. 

The Benefits of Business Intelligence in Manufacturing

Manufacturing consists of many moving parts that make up the end-to-end operation, making it extremely challenging to get a view of the bigger picture.

It may be easier for manufacturing personnel to pay attention to one aspect of the process, like equipment monitoring and maintenance, while unintentionally overlooking another aspect, resulting in losses or inefficiencies. 

Using BI, manufacturers can address and overcome multiple problems that commonly plague the industry that are experienced across the business, not only at one level. 

Different stakeholders require datasets unique to their focus and operations. Business intelligence gives manufacturers the means to pull data and information usually siloed across the factory floor and within department clusters and integrate it into one universal data source and interface. 

For instance, dashboards that show real-time progress and results allow production managers to better oversee floor operations and make quick adjustments if a production or distribution bottleneck occurs and reflects within the data display. 

Purchasing managers, on the other hand, can monitor and track purchase order volumes and communicate with other department heads more quickly if purchasing rates suddenly spike.

This allows departments to access the data they need to make decisions and amendments quickly, based on real-time information. At a higher level, management heads and supervisors can compile and share reports and insights on operational performance and productivity. 

Being able to access real-time data and customised reports gives all major decision-makers within the organisation the resources they need to make faster, more accurate decisions that improve the organisation as a whole. This brings 

Having access to the right data at the ideal time brings a host of benefits:

Improve operational efficiency

Organisations generate enormous amounts of business data, but not all of this data is valuable. With the help of BI, businesses can extract only relevant data and translate it into clear reports that are accurate and immediately actionable. 

It enables you to track performance, correct errors and make necessary adjustments with little to no lead or waiting time.

This helps to reduce roadblocks and obstacles during the production cycle, improving operational efficiency and ensuring production processes are optimised, agile and reactive, capable of handling varying order demands as well as sudden spikes in output requests. 

Increase supply chain visibility

The 2020-2021 global supply chain crisis has reinforced the significance of maximum visibility across the supply chain. Using business intelligence organisations across the supply chain can establish better supply chain visibility and share and communicate data for more effective coordination and planning while eliminating data silos. 

Bolster supply chain management

Most manufacturers work with multiple carriers, making the task of shipping and delivery management more challenging. 

BI demystifies and organises information related to freight expenditure, routing optimisation, deliveries and overall supply data, enabling organisations greater control over shipping management, performance and expenses. 

Support inventory management

Production materials and items that sit in inventory limbo are a strain on manufacturers’ budgets. BI can help to ease that pressure by helping to track inventory use across production lines for better overall inventory management. 

By providing data that aligns the procurement of raw materials with production requirements, BI can assist organisations in creating enough inventory to meet customer demands. 

Enhance organisational productivity

Optimising productivity across all production touchpoints is a key concern for manufacturers. Management stakeholders can use BI to monitor activity and downtime rates for machines, employees and departments to assess where changes and adjustments can be made. 

Predictive analysis can be utilised to forecast potential production roadblocks and bottlenecks and develop strategies to minimise these risks and ensure consistent productivity. 

Elevate financial management

Business intelligence supplies manufacturing companies with real-time reporting on their sales, purchasing, revenue and profit and loss, helping to increase ROI. 

With the insights derived from BI, organisations can develop agile budgets aligned with changing business requirements that incorporate up-to-date financial data, as well as develop accurate profitability forecasts and financial models. 

Should Manufacturers Use BI Software?

The quantity of data being created and aggregated by manufacturing companies is only growing. 

Being able to utilise that data by extracting and translating it to improve business processes and outcomes is critical to maximising productivity and profitability, as well as getting a competitive foothold over other manufacturing organisations.

Adopting BI tools that simplify and streamline the data management process to produce clear, actionable data is the quickest, simplest way to begin implementing a data-to-decisions business strategy within your organisation.

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