I recently saw and shared on LinkedIn a great quote, “Bad Data is about as useful as a screen door on a submarine.” I laughed out loud when I read that.
I’m going to twist that quote a bit, “Bad Tool Choice is about as useful as a screen door on a submarine.” This is just as true as the prior version of the quote.
Solutions like IIoT / Data-Driven Manufacturing have a unique place in companies and provide a lot of value. That value comes from our solutions’ unique ability to pull data from machines on the plant floor, innately understand that data, add other contextual data to it, and make the data understandable and valuable to all users.
These tools are unique to and work with manufacturing processes and machines on the plant floor. We see some manufacturers trying to use other products and they end up missing a lot of the benefits otherwise available.
ERP systems are great for planning for the future by evaluating what happened in the past. ERP systems don’t provide real-time analytics on manufacturing processes and machines on which you can take immediate action. Using an ERP system for manufacturing analytics would be like driving by looking at your rearview mirror. Don’t get us wrong, ERP systems are valuable. Though, their place isn’t in providing that immediate, actionable data on what’s going on now on the factory floor.
Many BI systems provide insights into processes and are very general products used at the enterprise level. However, these products falter because they aren’t built to work with machine data and manufacturing processes. To adjust them to work in that way requires a very significant investment in additional time, people, and money to get the solutions to work optimally.
SCADA systems primary focus is controlling the manufacturing process and what shouldn’t happen in that process. They aren’t able to provide explanations of what’s right and wrong. Additionally, many of the SCADA systems are built on older technology and struggle to make data available to a wide audience that requires valuable manufacturing analytics data. Manufacturing analytics provides visibility.
We can’t fault anyone for trying to save a few bucks and turn one tool into a Swiss Army knife. However, for the truly important aspects of the manufacturing business, you need specialized tools. A chef won’t use the blade nor a carpenter use the screwdriver on a Swiss Army knife to do their professional jobs. Neither should you if you can help it.