23 February 2016

Factory managers ‘don’t have to be data scientists’ to embrace big data

Manufacturing leaders can make use of big data to improve skills and engage staff without intimate knowledge of technology, according to Kronos senior manager – manufacturing practices, Kylene Zenk-Batsford.

Many within manufacturing are unaware of the ways they can use data to improve workforce practices, Zenk-Batsford told Works Management. Practical uses include improving productivity by monitoring workers’ movements and tailoring training to individuals’ needs by closely monitoring specific areas of performance.

“People are becoming more aware of the power of data to help them, although in some ways manufacturing is a little behind other sectors in terms of adoption,” she said. “Some people don’t realise that you don’t have to be a data scientist to use this advantage. With support from tech partners it’s not hard any more to make sense of the data and turn it into something useful.”

With the worsening skills crisis and production pressures meaning manufacturers are often short of time for recruitment, Zenk-Batsford believes it’s never been more crucial to concentrate on improving the performance of existing staff.

“Whatever happens with technology, people will always be at the heart of the business,” she continued. “And combining data and technology to retain skills and increase workplace productivity, through the ability to monitor all aspects of the workforce in real-time, is always going to be important.”

Traditional challenges faced by factory managers, like reaching and engaging staff who don’t have access to the internet via a workstation, can also be met by embracing mobile communication, according to Zenk-Batsford.

“More and more businesses now realise that reaching workers on their mobile devices is the future,” she added. “Getting that engagement right is going to be a driver of productivity and better overall workplace performance.”

Hywel Roberts

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