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“If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it," says a popular proverb. So, if an organization needs to see improvement in their processes and structures, it is imperative to have metrics to quantify the performance of varied functions and measure the right thing at the right time.

The third episode of a virtual panel discussion, ‘Utilising Manufacturing Analytics for Effectual Measurement’, powered by Livemint and SAS, looks at the kind of digital tools organisations can leverage to set up a robust measurement system using analytics for increasing efficiency, improving quality and bringing down operating costs.

Why analytics

A robust analytics system which gets updated real time helps executives find out exactly what is going on in there, thereby helping them with the process of decision making. It also helps insure that the critical KPIs are in place.

“How can analytics as an overarching message help organisations identify their right set of matrices to be measured back towards the right set of goals that the organization has laid out," said Nabuath Ulla Khan, Practice Head Manufacturing and IOT Analytics, SAS.

If you want to run a business and plan an improvement, a look at the overall matrix is very important to identify what is working and what is not, identifying business progress, taking the right decisions. But just running the matrices alone is not sufficient.

“The correlation between input and output as seen in different matrices is very critical so that the effective output is achieved. For example, having a matrix for inventory is fine but linking it to another for forecasting the future needs is equally critical," said Rajesh Uppal, Member, Executive Board (HR, IT Safety), Maruti Suzuki India.

Technologies for transformation

Today, organisations are effectively using new age technologies to combine data from the four walls of the factory to that collected from the cell centre which echoes consumer sentiment. And together, it is able to offer an overview that was completely unimaginable 10 years ago.

“Today, data analytics is bringing insights from data that people didn’t have before. Now, with cloud technology, artificial intelligence an machine learning, you are able to get a global view on the matrix that might be impacting your business bringing in data sources that may have been used in the past," said Marcia Elaine Walker, Global Industry Principal (Manufacturing), SAS.

For operational performance and for transformation of services, matrices are absolutely essential. But, while preparing and measuring different kinds of matrices, business leaders must not lose sight of the end objective that they want to achieve.

“When you are talking about transforming a given process, the very eloquent concept of objectives and key results comes in. What end objective you want to achieve is really important to what you would measure," said Mayur Danait, Chief Information Officer – Information Technology, Pidlite Industries Limited

Challenges posed by the pandemic

Even in times of the pandemic when global supply chains were severely impacted, having proper measurement systems in place helped organisations plan better for the months to come. Companies like Mercedes Benz have put up systems in place to connect all 30 of their plants globally.

“This sharing of information allows you to take decisions quickly, improves asset utilization and optimization. During the time of the pandemic when everyone faced challenges, it led to some disruptions. But when you have connected information available, it gives you a much better opportunity to be able to fine tune the product manufacturing as well as direct your supply chain in the right direction," said Piyush Arora, Executive Director, Operations, Mercedes Benz India

Pidlite, which is present in more than 20 very distinct business verticals with over 50 manufacturing facilities, is in the process of setting up a digital command centre to connect all its processes and facilities.

“It is important from a manufacturing process supply chain perspective to create visibility across levels. Everyone needs to have a line of sight into some of the processes that need to be monitored on an ongoing basis," said Danait.

Key emerging trends and challenges

A few key trends have emerged about the usage of analytics in the automotive industry in particular including a strong focus on quality and customer centricity. The auto industry is also looking at improved good to market strategies by reducing the product development cycle times.

“While customer centricity remains the key for any industry, we are also thinking about reducing the risk in terms of capital exposures, health and safety, and the like. This is not just because of the pandemic but also for people to have control over their assets," said Sharad Kumar Agarwal, Chief Legal and Information Officer, JK Tyre and Industries Limited.

In conclusion, availability of data is no longer a big challenge as a lot of digitization has happened because of Covid. But there are some challenges around analytics that need to be addressed so that these systems can offer the desired results in terms of improving the overall health of the organisation.

“We are still not in a position to depend solely on technology and systems. There are some other impacting layers and variables in entire measurement gambit as well which we are not looking at. We need to overcome these challenges," said Khan.

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