Manufacturing equipment has become more advanced in recent years, as well as more connected, allowing manufacturers to collect and manage data in order to improve their workflows and efficiency while they monitor the data from wherever they are.

Big data is loosely defined as the concept of managing, analyzing, storing and manipulating large or complex sets of data.

AlphaUSA’s big data involves tracking, monitoring and analyzing layers of information, including cause of stoppage, frequency and duration, on multiple presses running simultaneously.

“The data has allowed us to find areas, whether in a workstation or department, that is the greatest cause to time bottlenecks,” said David Lawrence, AlphaUSA’s chief administrative officer.

“The more time we save, the more capacity we have.”

Less than a year after launching the data collection process, AlphaUSA is achieving more than a 35 percent increase in efficiency on its shop floor, Lawrence said.

This ability to monitor and analyze data quickly has lead to a new generation of faster and more flexible manufacturers.

“Today’s suppliers are more lean and agile and are able to take advantage of some of these technologies,” Riley said. “We’re seeing more small- and medium-sized companies that recognize the importance of leveraging their information, or data.” …

We all know the industry is moving faster than it ever has,” McCarthy said, “and the use of data is now creating a responsive, and sustainable, business model.”

The important thing to take away from this is that the amount of information being gathered is not greater, so much as the information collected is being analyzed more deeply and more often than was previously possible.

Read more about ‘big data’ at Crain’s Detroit.