Special Report: Integrated technologies, processes

Industry commitment to strategic technology investments and robust business processes is key to benefitting from Big Data analytics.

Evangelos Alepochoritis, director – sales, Middle East and North Africa, Honeywell Process Solutions.
Evangelos Alepochoritis, director – sales, Middle East and North Africa, Honeywell Process Solutions.

A recent survey of 200 executives indicated that most manufacturers plan to increase investments in data analytics over the next year – even while delaying other techno-logy investments.

At a time when the region’s oil and gas industry is increasingly turning its focus on Big Data to drive operating efficiencies, manufacturers must keep their sights firmly on integration and appropriate business processes to make the most of their technology investments.

Data analytics

Manufacturers view data analytics – a key component of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) – as a viable solution to a cycle of problems that lead to downtime and lost revenue. For this to deliver the desired results and help achieve operational efficiencies, however, companies – and the wider industry – need to adopt a strategic approach to utilising the data and related analytics.

“Big Data is without doubt a major buzzword in the industry right now and the benefits are clear. Executives need to keep their businesses running smoothly and safely, and they are banking on IIoT technologies to help navigate challenges, even during economically challenging times,” commented Evangelos Alepochoritis, director – sales, Middle East and North Africa, Honeywell Process Solutions.

“Data itself would not make the change. It is the commitment of individual companies – and the wider industry – to adopt a strategic approach to leveraging this for benefit that will make all the difference. This means having the right technology that is properly integrated across all business operations and managed through robust business processes, delivering a complete end-to-end solution.”

Next generation automation evolution

For more than 40 years, Honeywell has been providing leading automation technologies that help manufacturers meet those goals. The IIoT by Honeywell is the next step in that evolution. The importance of IIoT and the challenges – and opportunities – of Big Data analytics were highlighted in a recent survey involving more than 200 manufacturing executives in North America.

The research, conducted by Honeywell Process Solutions and KRC Research Inc, showed that the majority of respondents (67 percent) are pressing ahead with plans to invest in data analytics, whilst some companies are feeling the pressure to continue working under the threats of unscheduled downtime and equipment breakdowns, which are viewed the most detrimental to maximising revenue. The picture is not that different in the Middle East, where unscheduled downtime is a continuous challenge for the region’s manufacturers.

“Running plant equipment harder than appropriate presents a host of issues ranging from equipment breakdowns to potential safety incidents,” added Alepochoritis.

“Those issues inevitably lead to more downtime, which leads back to lost revenue. It is easy to see how many companies feel they are caught in a vicious cycle. Predictive analytics achieved through an effective IIoT by Honeywell solution can help companies break out of that cycle, and effective data analytics is a key component of a successful IIoT implementation for manufacturers,” observed Alepochoritis.

Industry survey

More than 200 North American manufacturing executives took part in the survey titled ‘Data’s big impact on manufacturing: A study of Executive opinions.’ Unscheduled downtime was ranked in the survey as the top threat to maximising revenue; but 42 percent of respondents admitted to running equipment harder than they should. When asked how often their companies experienced a list of issues in recent years, 71 percent of respondents said they experienced equipment breakdowns at least occasionally, while 64 percent said the same for unscheduled downtime. Forty percent ranked unscheduled downtime as the biggest threat to maximising revenue.

Other threats included supply chain management issues (39 percent), inadequate staffing (37 percent), off-spec products (36 percent), and equipment breakdowns (32 percent). Most respondents had favourable views of the benefits of data analytics as a solution. For example, the executives said they agreed big data analytics can reduce the occurrences of equipment breakdowns (70 percent), unscheduled downtime (68 percent), unscheduled maintenance (64 percent), and supply chain management issues (60 percent).

Respondents said they believe data can enable well-informed decisions in real time (63 percent), limit waste (57 percent), and predict the risk of downtime (56 percent). While the majority of respondents said they are already investing and/or planning to increase their investments in data analytics in the coming year, 32 percent said they are not currently investing in data analytics. Meanwhile, 33 percent said their companies are not planning to invest in data analytics in the next 12 months, or are unaware of any plans to do so.

Of those who currently have no plans to invest, 61 percent believe their organisations already have systems in place to ensure safety, yield and success; 45 percent said their companies have seen some growth without data analytics; 42 percent said they do not fully understand the benefits of big data; and 35 percent believe people are overstating the benefits of big data.

Sixty-three percent of respondents who said they have no investment plans indicated they just do not have the resources to appropriately do so, while 39 percent said they do not have the right staff to make the most of data analytics.

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