How Does Big Data Affect Manufacturing Operations?


Big data is growing in importance within US manufacturing operations, helping manufacturers to stay competitive in the global market. Capturing the data is just part of the equation – sensors and processors must be embedded in everything from forklifts to pallets to material handling equipment. The industry calls this the Internet of Things (IoT).

Industry research firm Gartner recently reported that the Internet of Things is going to impact businesses with its exponential adoption rate reaching 26 billion devices by 2020. Gartner said that “IoT product and service suppliers will generate incremental revenue exceeding $300 billion, mostly in services, in 2020. It will result in $1.9 trillion in global economic value-add through sales into diverse end markets.“

All of these devices create a huge amount of data that can be captured and analyzed for making faster, more informed decisions. In manufacturing, when you connect data generated from order entry systems, factory floor devices, material management systems, social media, e-commerce, fulfillment and sales/marketing systems, some of the results include the ability to:

  • Predictively model equipment failure rates
  • Streamline inventory management
  • Target energy-inefficient components
  • Optimize factory floor space
  • Observe patterns and correlations to predict demand – how many of a product to order, when to order them and where to put them
  • Better understand real-time performance of products and equipment
  • Improvement of operational efficiencies

The real value to manufacturers of Big Data is the ability to analyze data trends in real-time to extract business critical data for management and operational execution. Having access to real time customer demand pattern data helps managers match inventory and inventory levels to customer orders accurately, helping to increase customer satisfaction. Data can be analyzed to predict seasonal trends, spikes or reductions in customer demand to ensure the right levels of inventory are available at the right locations.

With more accurate predictions, proper levels of inventory can be stored in carton flow racks and shelving like solutions provided by UNEX Manufacturing. Our innovative storage solutions can hold slow moving inventory in a side aisle and fast moving inventory in picking areas to maximize efficiencies. The use of Big Data within manufacturing operations will optimize people, equipment and inventory to improve utilization, streamline work flows and increase profit margins.