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Author's profile photo Pradeep Amladi

Following Edison’s Path to Excellence

How organizations are using data analytics to improve product and process performance

Over his lifetime, American inventor and scientist, Thomas Edison, patented 1,093 inventions – a pretty impressive feat. Yet, it was his unrelenting drive to move beyond the first revision and take ideas to the next level that made such a dramatic impact on the world. For example, Mr. Edison is well known for discovering the incandescent light bulb. However, it wasn’t until he created the first viable system for distributing electricity that the potential of electric light was fully understood. (

Today, manufacturers and entrepreneurs are following Edison’s line of thinking by using data analytics to elevate their existing products and processes. Sensors embedded into parts and systems are generating extraordinary amounts of data – delivered via the cloud – providing new insights, in real-time if required, into such things as product usage, part performance and maintenance needs.  Visionary businesses are using this valuable information to improve many facets of their business operations and optimize product performance. 


Performance Optimization


Knowing how a product is performing in the field is one of the biggest advantages companies are experiencing with the Internet of Things innovations.  Collecting data from thousands of embedded sensor and analyzing it in seconds, provides real-time insight in consumer usage patterns, which can then be used to improve performance. While there are countless ways product data can be used to improve performance, below are three interesting examples currently yielding fascinating results:


  • To enhance player performance, a football club in Germany, TSG 1899 Hoffenheim, placed special sensors in players’ shin guards, clothing and balls. The team collects enormous amounts of actionable data from training, which is analyzed by trainers and subsequently used to develop ways to improve the players’ games. Additionally, elements such as speed, acceleration and number of ball contacts are calculated in real time for players, helping them instantly adjust and improve. The team continues to use data to outpace the competition while playing in Bundesliga, Germany’s top soccer league.
  • Pirelli tire company is continuously looking for ways to improve the performance of their tires. One recent innovation has been the introduction of electronics inside its tires. The tires transmit information about their conditions every second. The data is collected, analyzed and correlated with tire data from around the world. The information allows fleet managers to remotely view tire pressures and tire temperature, and even measure the mileage for each tire.  This real-time insight helps the company optimize performance for each tire which, in turn, improves the vehicle’s
    safety, increases fuel efficiency and helps provide a longer product life span.

  • The Vodafone McLaren Mercedes team races Formula One cars with 120 build-in sensors. As the cars speed around the track at 350 km/h, the sensors are constantly transmitting data. Using powerful technology platforms, the team analyzes the data in seconds, looking at car attributes such as wheel suspension pressure, engine temperature and tire quality. Using the resulting data to make improvements each week and to analyze
    competitors gives the team a valuable edge in a very competitive, high technology market.

Operational Excellence

A common, but vexing problem for nearly every manufacturer is how to maintain profit margins in the face of increased competition, rising material costs and downward price pressures. Consequently, there is intense interest in ideas that help streamline operations, allowing
companies to spend money in areas that make a difference. One example of an organization sing big data to achieve operational excellence is Porsche AG. With more than 70 affiliate companies and a worldwide presence, Porsche leverages data analytics and powerful processing platforms to ensure workers have the right part at the right moment.
By analyzing data in real time, the company has found ways to run more efficiently, respond quickly to changing business needs, and increase revenue growth.

By following Edison’s example of innovative thinking, companies that manufacture products have an opportunity to lead the way in applying data analytics to optimize both product performance and operations. Yes, it requires stepping back to look outside the traditional processes, but if
manufacturers don’t leverage data to gain a competitive advantage, someone else most certainly will. 

What do you think about the issues discussed here? Continue the conversation in the comments below and on Twitter @SAPhightech.

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