How big data is revolutionising metals analysis

We’ve seen data emerge as a key resource for businesses in the last decade, and the metals industry is no different. Whilst investment has been made into process control and optimization, the industry has for many years lagged behind the likes of banking and media in its adoption of new digital technologies.

The pace is picking up though – with innovations in analytics, mobile solutions and automation delivering significant gains. For us, the speed, simplicity and convenience of a metals analyzer enabling a member of staff to take thousands of readings in a working day, means we also need to adapt to keep pace.

Digital Innovation

McKinsey’s report on ‘unlocking the digital opportunity in the metals industry’ identified four key areas where data is going to play a big part for metal businesses:

  • Advanced analytics and artificial intelligence

Especially for a broad range of production and maintenance datasets, driving more than 50% of total gains from digital adoption. With our instruments, the metals industry can access their measurement data from their fleet of instruments around the factory floor, or across multiple sites any time of day or night; with results and reporting available on the cloud in real time.

  • Robotics and automation are significant improvement drivers

This contributes another 20-30%of the total improvement opportunity by eliminating the need for human intervention in non-decision-making functions. We’re already seeing that cobots, 24/7 factory floors and cloud robots on the factory floor working alongside humans to further improve process control and stability. And our instruments are ready for this.

You can read more about this in ourThe rise of the robots: three  key trends we are seeing in metal manufacturing’ blog

  • Process digitization and software automation streamlining

It’s all about streamlining manufacturing, maintenance and back-office processes and connecting workers equipped with mobile devices to instructions and data at all times. Estimated EBITDTA gains could be as high as 20 -30%.           

  • Unlocking true potential

For us, the equipment itself is designed to operate is all about making industrial processes more efficient and as a result, increasing productivity by connecting and exchanging data, remote reporting and instrument diagnostics

Information is king

It’s thought that more data has been created in the last decade than in the entire history of humans. An IBM study from 2017 highlighted that 90% of all the data in the world had been created in the previous two years.

One reason information rules in the metals industry is through its ability to make manufacturing quality assurance and control processes simpler and faster. However, whilst the quantity of data available is colossal, the question is how manufacturers turn this into something of value.

Whilst the vast majority of data collected goes into what is often referred to as the ‘data lake’, the data that is analysed can help manufacturers in a number of ways, including:

  1. Increased product quality by identifying defects at the earliest stage in the process.
  2. Machine failure predictions and diagnostics leading to well-timed preventative work, reduced downtime and less risk of sudden failures that are so damaging to business.
  3. Reduced costs through the use of big data for predictive analytics, shortening the quality assurance process.

Regardless of the industry, every business needs data in order to thrive. It’s why we have specially designed software allowing a user to  send, store and retrieve analysis results quickly and easily in a cloud-based service.

We all need data to grow

ExTOPE Connect from Hitachi is a cloud-based data storage application that automatically records and stores analysis results. From providing analytical data sheets to our customers, to compliance for ISO and other process-critical certifications, these measurements are essential for internal quality control, such as spotting trends across production lines or even entire manufacturing sites.

Find out more

To find out more about our thoughts about metals analysis and big data, download our Metal Analysis Guide, or contact us for a quote for one of our analyzers.

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Date: 12 December 2019

Author: Mikko Järvikivi - Global Head of Product Management

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