Since its founding in 2016, Inawisdom has forged a reputation as a leader in data analytics and Artificial Intelligence, working with clients across a range of sectors including retail, utilities and manufacturing.
As an exclusive user of the Amazon Web Services (AWS) platform, Inawisdom was named Machine Learning Partner of the Year by AWS in 2020, which was awarded for the outcomes it delivered for its customers.
“We help organisations who are at the start of their journey to understand the art of the possible, as well as ones that are more mature and have done a lot of proofs-of-concept and are looking to scale up,” says Andy Fisher, Inawisdom’s manufacturing lead. “We’re fully versed in all areas that drive digital enablement, from setting up cloud platforms and getting the basics in place through to data analytics and driving business decisions. From there, we offer various types of data ingestion, whether it’s one-off or in bulk, depending on where the data is stored and what format it’s in.”
Data as a journey
Improving your data analytics, says Fisher, provides a more immediate return on investment than other transformation projects.
“The beauty of a data driven project is that you can find value very quickly,” he explains. “Unlike other projects that take years to give a significant ROI, with data, if you plan strategically, you can deliver tactically and with agility to get quick wins – driving the business case to implement more projects.”
However, for many manufacturers, using data to drive value in their business remains a mystery. While automation on the shopfloor is now commonplace, using the data generated by connected machinery is less so.
“The CEO of a manufacturing business is likely to have more insight about themselves on their mobile phone than they do of what’s going on in their factory,” says Fisher. “The data is there, but it’s often captured in pockets. There is so much technology out there that, if brought together, can make a real difference to a business.”
These attitudes are beginning to change, with more and more manufacturers employing data experts to drive business change.
“In manufacturing there is a cross-pollination of skills from other sectors, with digital skills entering the sector from more traditionally tech-focused industries such as finance or technology,” explains Fisher. “CIOs and chief data officers, who understand the opportunities of data, are now entering manufacturing in a way we’ve not seen before. The challenge is in helping them maximise those opportunities, which is where companies like Inawisdom come in.”
A data calculator
The benefits of maximising those opportunities, however, is significant, especially as technologies such as Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning come to the fore. Plant machinery now comes packed with sensors, so collecting data has never been easier.
“The sheer volume of data produced in a factory today means you can’t manually review everything and analyse it properly,” says Fisher. “AI captures all the information and acts almost as a data calculator: you put in your inputs and it calculates the output. Machine learning then takes that to the next level by predicting what is going to happen, which is useful for things like maintenance. If you know when a machine requires maintenance, you can proactively schedule it and avoid costly downtime.”
The good news is that the acceptance of data is only going to get stronger. Digital natives, who have grown up with smartphones and understand the power that technology can bring, are now entering positions of influence within businesses.
“Technological adoption is making its way from home life into the workplace, and that’s only going to accelerate going forward,” explains Fisher. “Pretty much everyone now is tech savvy and understands data at a personal level – we all have a health app on our phone, for example. Over time that data insight will be demanded, not just expected, in the factory as well – people will say that they can’t be expected to run a business without having the insight into the data.”
As this acceptance grows, so too will the capabilities of the technology itself. While AI and Machine Learning are beginning to take root across the board, new technologies are just starting to find a foothold. Digital twins and simulation will be able to model processes and entire shopfloors to gather analytics that will help improve the bottom line and drive actions based on genuine, accurate insights .
Inawisdom already work with leading brand names – such as Johnson Matthey – and looks at a multitude of challenges where AI can have an impact. From improving production processes by data sharing across global sites in real-time to collecting IoT sensor data and using it to predict the heath, serving and efficiency of equipment, there seems to be an endless list of opportunities.
“We always say start small and scale” says Fisher “By starting a project in one region or one plant and proving the case and getting rapid results, businesses are then able to replicate it quickly across others, making it a repeatable value-add across the business.”
In addition, Inawisdom is working with customers on vision systems to monitor factory and staff performance in real-time and give data on everything that is going on – including one example that monitors whether staff are wearing the correct PPE around the site, automatically producing a report on safety performance.
“Once you start to bring all that data together, the opportunity to make data-driven decisions increases exponentially,” says Fisher. “Data is becoming ‘publicised’ – more and more companies are shouting about their digital agendas, and others in the same sector realise that they need to catch up, or risk missing out. As competition on efficiency, productivity, supply chain and customer expectations increases, the need to differentiate and find ways to deliver excellence increases. Data exploitation can be that difference”
Gone are the days when data was solely the concern of the IT department, being something of a dark art that nobody else in the business needed to concern themselves with.
“Nowadays, data isn’t an IT initiative, it’s a business one, and sometimes it’s hard to get companies to realise that,” concludes Fisher. “A cultural change is needed; the most successful implementations are where IT works very closely with the business stakeholders to understand their goals and ambitions and KPIs and work together to formulate a plan to maximise data and business performance.”