Data is manufacturing’s new gold, but much like any raw material, it only has value once it’s mined, refined, and polished to make it shine.

Manufacturers generally have no problem collecting massive amounts of data, but leveraging it to its best advantage is still a tall order for many. At the 2019 Manufacturing Leadership Summit, Hitachi Vantara Director of Digital Solutions for Manufacturing Sath Rao shared insights on some of the tools and technologies that are helping with that challenge.

“It’s the ability to realize that data is not just outward; data is also something we need to look at monetizing,” Rao said. “In the not too distant future, companies that are not operating at peak efficiency might want to sell off their plant operating data for AI systems to learn about their challenges and issues and then educate other factories” from those insights.

Rao says it’s often about “choosing to win,” and also about choosing uses cases that tie back to the overall corporate mission to gain more attention and support from C-suite leadership. “The research is already out there,” he said. “The KPIs from the (World Economic Forum’s) Lighthouse factories are giving an idea of what’s possible.

“Instead of ‘don’t fix something that isn’t broken,’ the new paradigm with data will be to break things to fix them, because of the power to look at data across siloes for new insight and discovering new points of improvement,” Rao said.  “In my opinion, the factories of the future will only be possible if you are realizing the data factories that are available today.”