advanced technology, data, data lake, digital transformation, analytics

Ever feel as if you’ve been left behind when it comes to technology? I have eight grandkids, and they often act as my ‘help line’ to bring me forward to today’s technological advancements as I struggle to stay in my comfort zone. It can feel a bit overwhelming, so let me tell you about my own experience as I wade into the age of digital transformation.

Audio and Data Storage Technology Advancements

I replaced my music collection five times over the years as audio and data storage technology evolved and improved. My scratched and heavy 45s (telling my age) were replaced by bulky 8-tracks, followed by cassettes, where at least I could make my own collections. Then cassettes were replaced by CDs, many of which I still have. I am now faced with not needing to own ANY music as I can stream it on almost any device. Plus, there is an app I can download on my phone or tablet that will listen to a few seconds of a song and tell me the name, artist and album. My grandkids used it to tell me that the song, “So What” was by “some guy named Miles Davis” — sure, some guy.

I had several CD towers to stack my CD collection, in cases that would break, get lost, were not sorted by artist nor in alphabetical order. Moving them was out of the question. Finding a particular CD was time-consuming, and if I didn’t search well enough, I was known to have more than one copy of certain albums. Today, I can listen to any music I can imagine, on any one of my devices.

Time and Inventory Management Advancements

Back in my shop floor days, I manually wrote down my job time and material issues on the back of old IBM computer punched cards. Remember those? Someone would take my punch cards and in a day or so enter the inventory into a card catalog of each item of material that I had used. During the month-end close process, I would often be asked what I did several days ago, and we did a monthly cycle count to ensure all the information was correct.

We stored the results of all these cards in file cabinets, labeled by year and month. When a file cabinet filled up, we had to buy a new one, and if we referenced a historical file, it was up to us to make sure it was filed back in the correct spot. Sometimes files were put back in the wrong place altogether.

Advances in Technology that Can Help You ‘Do More’

Think of the progress made. Large music collections went from walls of media, to an Oreo cookie-sized storage device. The rows of file cabinets are gone, now being stored in the cloud where access is nearly instantaneous, and the amount of storage is not limited to how much weight the storage room floor can hold.

With technology I can do more, my devices generate greater volumes of data, and all I need is a place to put this data from multiple sources and a simple way to retrieve it when I have a question. What I really need is a data lake.

What is a Data Lake?

A data lake is a storage repository that holds a vast amount of raw data in its native format, including structured, semi-structured and unstructured data. The data structure and requirements are not defined until the data is needed. It is becoming the replacement for a data warehouse.

What Types of Activities Can a Data Lake Support?

When it comes to manufacturing and the supply chain, a data lake can support product traceability, recalls and customer returns, identifying trends via key performance indicators (KPIs) and performance reports for machines, operations, scrap, rejects, etc. A data lake can be used to store and access any enterprise level data from existing systems or IIoT data.

QAD has a data lake included in our latest release. The new Production Execution module already writes data to the data lake, and with connections to other devices, one can send any kind of shop floor data to the data lake. Connect your MES, ERP, QMS, SPC, Maintenance, or any other shop floor system, and you can send the data to the data lake.

No file cabinets needed. No paper required. No limit to the amount of data, the style, the source or the amount of history you want to store. But I have questions; I need reports, trends, KPIs, dashboards. How will I get the data back?

Have You Tried Embedded Analytics?

Embedded analytics technology is designed to make analyzing data and business intelligence more accessible to all users and application types. And according to Gartner analyst Kurt Schlegel, embedded analytics has been developed to become more pervasive by real-time autonomy and self-service of data visualization or customization.

With the latest solutions from QAD, analytics are included in the configuration. QAD Embedded Analytics pulls data from the data lake and can automatically update KPIs, dashboards, operational metrics and reports.

Migrating to the Adaptive UX gives you a place for all your advanced technology projects to send their data, and a means to get valuable information back from them directly to your users. So, what do you do once you’re migrated over? Well, start thinking about all those heavy file cabinets, and go have an Oreo.