Big Data Applications in Manufacturing

Instructor: Kaitlin Oglesby
While the applications of big data may be more apparent in other sectors, the truth is that big data can actually offer other industries a great deal of insight. One of these is the manufacturing industry. We'll look at how big data can benefit manufacturing divisions in this lesson.

Using Big Data for Manufacturing

For some fields, the uses of big data are pretty obvious. After all, having access to millions upon millions of data points is useful when you are trying to find new and better ways to market a good or track for changes in people's health. However, other sectors may not have immediately obvious uses for big data. That doesn't mean that those applications are not present, however. Take manufacturing, for example. Few fields have seen the incredible amount of data-driven innovation as manufacturing, but there are only so many steps that can be taken if a manufacturing process is short, right? Actually, as this lesson will demonstrate, by making real world allusions to how a top consulting firm applies big data to manufacturing, manufacturers have plenty to learn from the study of big data.

The Ways Big Data can be Used

Before we get to the examples, let's step back and look to see where we think big data would have a big impact on manufacturing. Before a good is transformed in a factory, it has already incurred costs, since the company has had to buy the raw materials to make the good. Big data can help limit raw material costs. Once a raw material is being transformed into something useful, it has other costs too. Labor has to be paid, and overhead costs must be met to keep the lights on and the machines humming. Anything that allows us a more in-depth look would be an advantage for big data.


So how do companies go about doing this? As promised, we are going to look at how one of the world's best consulting companies, McKinsey & Company, put these techniques to use. First, let's look at something like mining. It is hard to predict what will come out of the ground, which may make you think that big data has limited application. Just because something was there in the past doesn't mean that it will be there in the future. However, big data offers other savings. Before most minerals that have been mined can be sold, they have to be refined. By monitoring big data, McKinsey & Company was able to come up with an ideal environment that allowed a significant increase in the amount of ore that could be sold.

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