Big Data and your ERP System

You’ve made an enormous investment in your ERP system.  It holds all of your company data in one nice software suite.  You have your part masters, BOM’s, routings, set-up times, part numbers, suppliers, customers, and accounting information all set up in nice SQL tables.

Now you’re concerned because like the great consultant scam that was Y2K you are hearing about Industry 4.0, Big data, etc. and you are concerned about your ERP system- which most likely you purchased because of Y2K.  Maybe you are suffering from FOMO.

Let’s discuss the ways your ERP system can support Industry 4.0. Updated ERP systems already have the infrastructure built into them to support Industry 4.0.  They can collect and handle data from many inputs.  They use data to provide information, which is the reason for collecting the data.


Here are several more benefits:

Benefit #1- Eliminating human inputs

Because your ERP will collect inputs from different areas, the data collection will be automatic, cleaner, and real-time.  The data quality will improve.  Eliminating the human element from the data collection loop frees employees to be more productive.

I am working with a machine shop in Santa Ana, California who is implementing a new ERP system.  We are using tablets on the floor to clock into jobs, scan routers, and enter production and scrap quantities.  This information is live as activities occur.

We are using real-time information to bring in the material on a JIT basis- freeing up space and cash.  Both of these are important considerations for a small company.

Benefit # 2- Dashboard and alerts

Realtime data collection from a machining center offers all kinds of dashboard opportunities and alerts.  If you want to measure coolant levels and trigger an alert if they drop below a certain level, you can.  You can set up an alert after a certain number of cutting cycles for a tool.  If you have tool break detection on a machine and a tool breaks, it could trigger the vending machine to dispense another tool.

Performance dashboards can share company performance in real-time.  I know a company that sends texts when any scrap occurs within their processes.  Information-sharing opportunities are endless.

Benefit # 3 Level Playing Field

Because many of the new ERP systems are cloud-based and cloud cost is based upon usage, smaller entities can have the same level of performance information that large companies have.  Data storage solutions such as AWS (Amazon), Azure (Microsoft) are the two largest.

In the example of capturing the machine coolant level, how often do you need to collect that information?  My guess is once an hour is often enough.  Understanding how often to collect information and upload it to the cloud is a key element to mitigating cost.

Understanding how to use Big data with your ERP system will enable you to perform like a billion-dollar company!

As always, it’s an honor to serve you, and I hope this helps you and your organization get a little better today.

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