November 14, 2022
It’s common wisdom in food & beverage manufacturing (and manufacturing in general) that automation requires lots and lots of data. The more you automate, the more data you need – and it needs to be high-quality. But what defines high-quality data? How do you know when you have it? And how can you make the most of the data you have?
When we talk about high-quality data, it’s not limited to the digital equipment and system-based variety - it includes non-digital, or the data that resides within manual processes and the minds of your employees. This data is just as crucial for enabling more informed decision making, from the factory floor to the boardroom, and for driving results for your customers and your business.
In our whitepaper, Unlock the Hidden Factory through informed decision making, Dean Griffin, senior services solutions manager at Tetra Pak Services AB explains, “We need data to make informed decisions, but the data can be either digital or non-digital. Digital data is what we all have in our business, it can be computer or paper based. Non-digital data is best defined as subconscious data. Knowledge and experience are examples of subconscious data, and the ability to rationalise form parts of the non-digital aspect.”
In that way, high-quality data could be defined as data that is consistently collected from all digital sources, well-visualised to enable fast analysis and combined with the experience and knowledge of employees. With this type of high-quality data, your organisation can make informed and better decisions repeatedly.
But who gets to make decisions? This is a question many organisations struggle with. In our experience, it’s important to empower people across all levels of the business to make data-based decisions. This requires that everyone has access to the data, and that the business goals are clearly communicated and understood, ensuring they come into consideration when the decisions are being made.
It’s common to see many companies with incomplete data, and different people relying on different data sets to make effective decisions. However, when everyone has the information they need to make consequential decisions within their area, they are less dependent on the decisions of other functions, and they can all contribute to better business results.
For example, when the operational staff are empowered to make product decisions, middle management are freed to focus on tactical business challenges, using all the experience and information sets available. Senior management can support the middle management by providing strategic direction and clarifying objectives. These are driven by operational and non-operational information sets.
“By understanding the human interface better, we can present data and information in a manner that is easier to understand and facilitates more informed decision making with incomplete data sets,” says Griffin.
Pablo Picasso once said, “Action is the foundational key to success.” And empowering everyone to make decisions leads to action. The common wisdom is true: you do need high-quality data to optimise your business. But when you assess the quality of your data, don’t forget to consider all the digital and non-digital sources at your disposal. Collect them consistently, visualise them effectively and make them centrally available to empower people at every level to make decisions that drive results.