Mechanical Insights

Tate Trends: What Are Big Manufacturers Doing?

Jan 13, 2021 8:30:00 AM / by Tate Engineering

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The one constant thing is change. Tate knows this better than anyone, which is why our team of experts is dedicated to keeping the facilities we serve informed on the latest ways to modernize their facilities and keep them operating efficiently. Tate’s teams keep up with project management trends so that you can focus on doing what you do best. Being prepared and knowledgeable of these trends keeps big manufacturers prepared for the future. Some of the most significant changes impacting big manufacturers are automation and AI, data analytics, and remote work.

Automation and AI

One of the greatest advances in automation has been the ability to schedule and predict failure and maintenance schedules. Automation is also helping manufacturers and project managers to perform repetitive tasks and visualize data in new ways. The Association for Project Management (out of the UK) sees automation and AI as one of the biggest accelerators in the coming years. They have even published a report called Projecting the Future that outlines the impacts they see coming to the project management profession.

Many people fear that automation and AI are bad because they will reduce the number of jobs a given facility will need to operate. Alternatively, AI and automation are great at reducing the menial workload so that project managers can shift their focus to the tasks that drive value for their facility. For example, many administrative activities that project managers handle are great candidates for automation. Project balancing, resource allocation, and updating schedules and budgets are all tasks that can be at least partially offloaded through automation.

Data Analytics

Modern equipment provides insights that the old stuff never could. Cutting edge equipment is typically digital and outfitted with many sensors that can provide trends on any number of different metrics. This data can be a treasure trove, but it’s utterly useless if you don’t know how to use it. Some of the best places where data analytics can benefit project management are:

  • Project Estimation
  • Risk Management
  • Preventative Maintenance

Project estimation is notoriously difficult. Many project managers rely on historical business data and their own experience to estimate future projects. With the availability of more data, and the ability to analyze it effectively, projects can be evaluated more efficiently with more accurate budgets and timelines.

Risk management falls into the same category as project estimation. Determining risks is often based on past experience and what the company or facility has seen previously. Being able to synthesize all of this data effectively can help predict future risks and how to avoid them.

Preventative maintenance is unique in the sense that the data can show pretty quickly how much it affects machine operation. By analyzing trend data, maintenance schedules can be generated in order to keep machines operating efficiently without requiring maintenance to be performed too often (which would waste time and resources). Failures can also be predicted so that preventative maintenance can be scheduled sooner to try to avoid unnecessary downtime.

Remote Work

Of all the trends in recent years, remote work may have been accelerated the most in 2020.  While remote working provides a lot of new opportunities, including better work/life balance for employees and access to a more diverse talent pool, it comes with plenty of its own obstacles as well. One of the hardest things for project managers to overcome is learning how to collaborate remotely in an effective manner. Clear and open communication is essential for teams that are working together without being in the same physical location. New software packages are on the market to help bridge this communication gap as well. Vertiv offers excellent insights into how to enable a remote workforce to help things run smoothly.

Remote monitoring is another tool that enables remote work to be more effective. Being able to see how equipment is operating in real-time means that there is less need for a project manager to be physically on-site at all times. In fact, remote monitoring can help alert people to an issue before it becomes a critical failure. Remote monitoring also allows for trend data to be captured relatively easily.

Related: Remote Monitoring Advances

The world is changing and project management is certainly a part of that. Keeping up with all of the changes can be difficult, but leveraging a team that stays up to date with project management trends can make it easier. Let the experts at Tate help find and implement solutions to keep your facility modern and efficient.

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Written by Tate Engineering