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Author's profile photo John Harrison

The Resiliant Organization: Avoiding Interuptions – Big Data

This the final blog in a continuing series discussing what makes for a resilient manufacturing organization. If you missed the opening discussion please read part 1.a summary of the topic, part 2 the introduction, part 3 Flexible Manufacturing Capacity & Scheduling,  part 4 Enterprise Asset Managementpart 5 Enterprise Asset Management II , part 6 Enterprise Asset Management III , part 7 Enterprise Asset Management IV , part 8 Facilities Management , part 9 Human Capital Management , part 10 Suppliers , part 11 Supply Chain

Avoiding Interruptions – Big Data

One aspect of a resilient system that does not get a lot of mention is the ability to avoid interruptions in the first place.  While not everything can be avoided, being able to execute a mitigation process before the interruption occurs is definitely worth investigating.

In the Enterprise Asset Management world, attempts to predict and prevent future failures have been part of the asset management culture for years.  Through predictive analytics, predictive maintenance, and reliability centered maintenance programs, asset managers have endeavored with some success to prevent failures in the assets that are under their control.

Employees in the logistics areas have long tried to predict times of arrival (Estimated Time of Arrival – ETA).  They have been limited by the amount of data needed  to be processed (everything from the production schedule, quality of product,  road works, rail interruptions, port delays, weather, equipment breakdowns, and other events) to be totally successful.  Being able to bring these and other relevant information together would increase customer  atisfaction by being able to more accurately predict the arrival of shipments.

Up until recently the amount of data that would have needed to be collected and processed made the desire to identify, manage, and react to events in a systematic way was impossible for most organizations. The recent developments of solutions for the processing of “big data” (data set whose size is beyond the ability of commonly used software tools to process), allows for a more detailed analysis of large amounts of data with non-obvious correlations. 

With these new capabilities available, organizations can start looking for and predicting events that will enhance the resilience of the organization.  Gathering and processing data that was not possible before allow for increase insight into the organization, and with the capabilities of including information from  outside a department or organization (e.g. matching demand with exchange rate data, transportation costs with climate data, etc.) new and more insightful inquiries can be created.

Within the manufacturing environment being finally able to gather and analyze data from data historians (production values, energy usage, product quality, environmental values, etc.), marrying it to business data (production schedule, sales demand, shipments, complaints, returns etc.), along with other operational data (production shifts, labor costs, production variances, human resource information, etc.) vastly opens up opportunities to identify potential problems, causes, and effects. Allowing the company to develop and implement a mitigation strategy to reduce and avoid future incidents.

The logistics environment has the same opportunities.  Enabling the flow of data from logistics tracking systems, traffic data, delivery schedules, equipment reliability, and other relevant data, will enhance the ability to predict events. Consequently this enables a company to have in place plans to mitigate the predictive event (e.g. to avoid the event, or minimize the impact).

As the capabilities for analyzing large amounts of data become available to organizations, more parts of the organization will start looking at their data in new ways. Where finance and the sales organizations have traditionally been seen as “number crunchers” opportunities to analyze the data and develop new insights abound throughout the organization.


The resilient organization is how every organization has to regard itself. with today’s extended supply chain, interruptions are expected, and without being able to react quickly, a organizations will put itself in jeopardy . With all the new capabilities that are available today, especially the ability to truly analyze large amounts of data, quickly, economically, and with the predictive capabilities that are emerging, a organization has no excuse for not trying to be a resilient organization.  The new technologies have untied people from the office; mobile and cloud solutions offer new opportunities for collaboration, monitoring, no matter where ever you may be located. All departments, partners, and the community are all involved, no part of the organization is excluded from the process.

I hope you found that these series of blog were informative and enjoyable. Please keep some of these topics in mind when looking at your organization

Have you faced issues with creating a resilient organization? Is it possible to build a resilient organization in the chemical industry? Are looking at all your data from traditional & non traditional sources? Are you able to predict interruptions?  Feel free to discuss/share stories about these questions along with manufacturing in the chemicals industry in general in the comment space below. 

Or join the conversation at @SAP4Chemicals

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