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Survey Finds Manufacturing Executives Will Prioritize Big Data Investments to Solve Problems

Most plan to increase investments in data analytics over the next 12 months, even while delaying other technology investments 


A survey jointly conducted by Honeywell and KRC Research Inc. of 200 North American manufacturing executives found that a majority (67 percent) plan to invest in data analytics even as they scale back spending in other areas amid a tough business climate.

The survey, “Data’s Big Impact on Manufacturing: A Study of Executive Opinions,” examines the intersection of big data technology and the manufacturing industry at a time when the two are more integrated than ever. It was conducted from May 23 to June 8.



While manufacturing executives will delay other technology investments, many see big data—a key component of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT)—as a viable solution to cyclical problems that lead to downtime and lost revenue. In fact, 40 percent ranked unscheduled downtime as the top threat to maximizing revenue, though 42 percent of that group admitted they ran their equipment too hard.

“Running plant equipment harder than appropriate presents a host of issues ranging from equipment breakdowns to potential safety incidents,” said Andrew Hird, vice president and general manager, Honeywell Process Solutions Digital Transformation. “Those issues inevitably lead to more downtime, which leads back to lost revenue. It’s easy to see how many companies feel they’re caught in a vicious cycle. Predictive analytics achieved through an IIoT solution can help companies break out of that cycle.”

Respondents also identified other threats to maximizing revenue: 

  • Supply chain management issues (39 percent)
  • Inadequate staffing (37 percent)
  • Off-spec products (36 percent)
  • Equipment breakdowns (32 percent)

Data analytics is seen as key to protecting companies from these problems and an integral part of a successful IIoT solution. Many executives agree that big data can reduce the occurrences of equipment breakdowns (70 percent), unscheduled downtime (68 percent), unscheduled maintenance (64 percent) and supply chain management issues (60 percent). Leveraging data can help executives make well-informed decisions in real time (63 percent), limit waste (57 percent), and predict the risk of downtime (56 percent).

More than two-thirds (68 percent) of surveyed executives said they are currently investing in data analytics, and half said they think their companies are right on track in their use of data analytics. Fifteen percent believe their companies are ahead of the curve when it comes to data analytics usage.

However, not everyone is sold on big data: 33 percent of respondents said they do not plan to invest in data analytics in the next 12 months. Of this group:

  • 61 percent believe their organizations already have systems in place to ensure safety, yield and success
  • 45 percent said their companies have seen some growth without data analytics
  • 42 percent said they don’t fully understand the benefits of big data
  • 35 percent believe people are overstating the benefits of big data

Sixty-three percent of executives who said they have no investment plans indicated they just do not have the resources to appropriately do so, while 39 percent said they do not have the right staff to make the most of data analytics.

“For some companies, hurdles remain before the IIoT can be fully adopted,” explained Hird. “The good news is that IIoT is something that doesn’t require a wholesale change. It can be phased and scaled depending on an individual company’s circumstances. This is precisely why Honeywell says IIoT represents an evolution, not a revolution.”

For more than 40 years, Honeywell has provided leading automation technologies that help manufacturers meet their goals. The IIoT by Honeywell solution can help companies successfully begin or continue their investments in big data. 

“Executives need to keep their businesses running smoothly and safely, and they’re banking on IIoT technologies to help navigate challenges,” said Hird.