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Data Management, Part 1

By Tom Weber

May 24, 2021

The following is a recap of our first session in a series surrounding data management that was hosted by your AICC education team and moderated by me. I thought you might find the topics both relevant and compelling toward finding a better way!

The three remaining sessions, which will cover data management as it pertains to machinery, methods, and materials, will be recapped in my future 2021 BoxScore articles. I encourage you to read ahead by obtaining the recorded versions. The recordings are available through your outstanding AICC education contacts, Chelsea May and Taryn Pyle.

In this first session, which focused on “manpower,” our goal was to answer the following question: How do we enable a “connected factory” to be available 24/7 for operational teams?

The top three explorations we utilized were as follows:

  • We took a holistic view of your operations.
  • We explored barriers created within operating systems in order to gain full visibility into what’s happening on the shop floor as well as out in the field.
  • We uncovered meaningful ways to integrate structured and unstructured data from all shop floor sources, using both existing and possibly new systems currently available.

Our top three manpower opportunities that were identified for improvement are below, and they were explored in great detail by our AICC Associate member presentation panelists, made up of savvy technical and industry leadership experts from Amtech, EFI, and Kiwiplan.

Break Down Silos

Sharing data across the manufacturing organization streamlines processes and helps ensure that every team at the firm is pulling in the same direction—and able to understand why.

Develop your capabilities—digital and human—to gather, merge, manage, and analyze the big data stored throughout the manufacturing firm. If procurement and production, for instance, aren’t sharing data, you can’t improve their decision-making.

Don’t expect your humans to be able to get the most out of big data without the aid of advanced analytics. For instance, with artificial intelligence and analytics doing the heavy data lifting, a company might analyze profit per hour, factoring in as many as 1,000 variables and 10,000 constraints to help manufacturers figure out what to buy, what to make, and how to make it yield the most profit in each period.

Train Humans Better

When a manufacturing firm adds more technology and demands greater interoperability, it creates a more complicated ecosystem. The humans already need to understand how to operate, troubleshoot, and monitor machines and related technology. Now they also need to be trained on the process of data sharing and how the entire plant can function better by embracing this new interconnectedness. For example, valve manufacturer Richards Industrials achieved a 40% increase in productivity within six months of integrating its shop-floor management software.

By showing employees how to test and measure data and helping them to understand its importance, you help get them invested in the data-driven culture.

Lead Intelligently

While demonstrating empathy for those who find change challenging and are nostalgic for the “old ways,” leadership needs to prioritize developing an understanding around the value of smart devices, data analysis, and digital transformation. Leaders must understand that the results are only as good as the decision-makers themselves.

This also can’t be an IT team-only initiative. Heads of every business unit need to understand the use of big data and educate their teams about the importance of effective data security and data management.

Encourage Experimentation

Data analysis should be directed at problem-solving, process improvement, and profit generation. Yet it can help to encourage people throughout the firm to experiment with the data. You may get a fresh perspective on processes or business challenges.

Establishing a data-driven culture as a priority can improve buy-in to the initiative while also leading to improved production rates, lowered costs, reduced downtime, and greater employee satisfaction along the way.

This recap was intended to create the thought that perhaps there is a better, faster, and smarter way to “do” tomorrow what we have been asking our most valuable team members to do for our most critical clients each and every day past. If I have somehow piqued your interest, please request the recording from your AICC education team or me. It might well trigger one novel useful thought for you and your team in 2021!

PortraitTom Weber is president of WeberSource LLC and is AICC’s folding carton and rigid box technical advisor. Contact Tom directly at