Five Questions You Need to Ask About Data Analytics

Data analytics offers tangible benefits and real business value for supply chains, warehouses, and distribution centers. When you approach Big Data with an informed and strategic focus, you can position your facility for future optimization and give your company a powerful tool to identify and resolve issues that drain productivity and hinder efficiency.

As your facility becomes more connected, here are five questions you should ask as you get started with data analytics.

1. What data do we want to gather and track?

A common mistake many companies make when starting with data analytics is that they lack focus. They try to track and gather too much data. An ideal, manageable approach for beginners is to focus on one or two operational objectives. For instance, monitoring forklift impacts with the goal to reduce them. By tracking and analyzing the data you can easily determine responsibility and frequency, and identify a course of action.

2. Do we want real-time data or historical data, or both?

For certain companies and applications, it might be easier to start with real-time data because it does not require much analysis. If you want to add historical data, you will need to make sure your provider and/or system has batch processing and data analytics capabilities. A real-time data approach would be getting an alert every time there is a forklift impact above a certain threshold. A historical data approach would be tracking the frequency of impacts to identify operators who may need additional training.

3. How are we going to receive the data?

Choose a system and service provider that enables you to consolidate data and deliver it to whoever needs it in a way that is useful and supports decision-making. You also should have processes and algorithms in place to help analyze data so actionable information is shared with the right people so they can address issues accurately and efficiently. From a technology perspective, ensure your facility network infrastructure has the capability and capacity to move data from equipment and sensors to your management system.

4. How are we going to act on the data?

Have a plan to institute accountability and action. To realize success, you need to have in place the processes, resources, support (internal and external), and commitment to make decisions and take action based on what the data is telling you. For example, If certain forklift operators continually have a high number of impacts, managers can consider incentives and additional training to ensure correct behavior.

5. How are we going to measure progress and success?

This goes back to the data you are tracking and the goals you set out to achieve. Demonstrating the value of your data analytics through achievements, such as a reduction in impacts, increased efficiency, or higher productivity, creates internal buy-in and can provide the confidence and additional resources to tackle more complex challenges.
rather the type of data and what you do with it.
While there can be challenges to effectively implementing data analytics, asking the right questions will help you make meaningful changes to your operation and realize short- and long-term returns on your investment.

For more information on creating a connected facility and managing the data, download Crown’s e-book Achieving Material Handling Connectivity.

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