Industrial Engineer Engineering and Management Solutions at Work

September 2011    |    Volume: 43    |    Number: 9

The member magazine of the Institute of Industrial and Engineers

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Numbers are not enough

Improved manufacturing comes from using quality data to make the right connections and conclusions 

By Brandon Theiss

The era of social networking has enabled a person sitting in a café in New York City to obtain up-tothe- minute “status” updates about a friend or colleague in Shanghai. This is in stark contrast to the industrial paradigm of considering information to be timely when it is reported days or weeks removed from its collection. Clearly the tangible, actionable value of immediate real-time data about the organization’s processes is much higher than the disposable “tweets” of acquaintances regarding their morning coffee. Yet in the latter case information flows faster, across greater distances and to a wider audience. This paradox suggests that despite the ubiquity of technologies enabling the instantaneous flow of quality data, many organizations continue to restrict the flow of information, consequently operating at suboptimal levels.

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