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In the article My New Year Wish – Less Hype for Big Data Analytics, More Buzz for Smart Manufacturing, the author examines how smart manufacturing is utilizing big data, but just not to the extent we all thought.  In fact, vast amounts of data are being collected in many new manufacturing processes, but very little of it actually gets used.  The value in new smart manufacturing processes isn’t all the data, it’s the connectivity between systems.  That is, no value is found by trying to mine a stream of sensor data emanating from machines in the plant in the hope of finding some pearl of wisdom.  The real value is streamlining business processes from desktops to machines, across department walls, across tiers of manufacturing operations management, and across tiers of suppliers.

Interestingly, the author cites an article that states that 70% of the data collected during manufacturing processes goes unused.  If this big data was so important, why is so much of being discarded?  One has to believe if there was usage to be found, it would be found by experts in these processes.  Instead of mindless and useless streams of data, emphasis needs to be placed on manufacturing process improvement enabled by integration standards that connect machines, processes, and systems.  Of course some data collection and analyzation is part of this improvement, but gigantic amounts of data are not necessary.

One has to wonder if Big Data is more a buzzword then a useful concept.  There is no denying that manufacturing processes can become more efficient through a more thorough understanding of the process via data collection, but perhaps we’ve overstated how much data we need.  Properly prioritizing the importance of big data usage within innovation is key, and we need to stop looking at the technology itself as the innovation.


Do you think the author has a minority point when it comes to Big Data?

Will there come a time in the near future where we actually begin to collect less data, or will the reasoning of better safe than sorry prevail?

Do you think there is actually any use to all the data that gets discarded?