Data data data

PUBLISHED: 5 Oct 2017 13:16PM

On my travels, early in my engineering career, I had the fortune of several visits to Germany and Austria. I was there to learn about the differences in the methods employed within the Engineering departments at the relevant plants.  It was on one of these visits where I learned a cultural difference that has stayed with me since.

A television channel ‘ZDF’ played news, market analysis and sports results as I sat in the reception of a plant in North Germany. I was greeted by the Engineering Manager of the factory, who must have noticed me watching the TV, on his walk up the corridor to collect me. We made our introductions, but before we left the reception, He pointed to the logo on the top right of the screen and explained …”Z….D….F… in English; means , Facts, Data, Figures”.

As we walked around the plant there where several rest points, fashioned out of office partition boards and a bench with a 3litre flask jug of brewed coffee, which where all littered with the company KPI’s and historical performance which was eagerly read by staff members stopping for an impromptu meeting or a quick briefing.

Over the next few days I watched people pour over the various, information and discuss it with colleagues in great detail. Before leaving I was asked to present a summary of anything that I had learned and experienced during my visit.

There where lots of technical things that had stood out both good and bad in my opinion, but I had to mention the apparent thirst for knowledge of the staff at all levels. I threw in the Z.D.F analogy , in reference to the available facts , data and figures on display. I was interrupted by a colleague at this point, who told me, “we have an unofficial strapline for what you have observed “ … “What gets measured, gets done!”.

To conclude my point, the data we acquire needs to be referenced and given order so we can learn and adapt to using it. The science of data will be something that comes into the forefront of any company producing anything from services to equipment. Data gathered using cloud based technologies for drilling into and improving products and services will yield great results, the likes of which we have never seen before. The advancement of data analytics and sensor technologies becoming more cost effective, enables processes to be monitored in almost infinite ways, spawning higher efficiencies and reduced costs.

To find out more about data analytics and how they can be of use in your industry, please get in touch.

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