Data-Driven Optimization: Achieving Operational Excellence



In the industrial sector, data-driven optimization has become a crucial element for enhancing productivity and efficiency. The ability to gather, analyze, and interpret data provides valuable insights into operational processes, allowing organizations to identify inefficiencies, anticipate maintenance needs, and make informed decisions that drive operational excellence. The use of data in industrial optimization goes beyond individual process improvements; it's about achieving operational excellence through data-driven optimization.

This article explores the importance of data in industrial optimization and its impact on operational performance. It delves into real-world examples of companies that have successfully leveraged data-driven strategies to enhance their operations. Additionally, it discusses the challenges organizations face in implementing data-driven optimization strategies and highlights future trends in the evolution of data-driven optimization in the industrial sector. By embracing data-driven optimization, organizations can unlock untapped potential, improve productivity, and stay ahead in a rapidly evolving industry.

1. The importance of data in industrial optimization

Data has ascended to the role of a paramount resource in the industrial realm, acting as the driving force behind optimization. The capacity to gather, scrutinize, and decode data can yield significant insights into the workings of industrial operations. These insights can be harnessed to pinpoint inefficiencies, anticipate maintenance requirements, and guide decisions that bolster productivity and efficiency. The deployment of data in industrial optimization transcends the enhancement of individual processes; it's about realizing operational excellence through data-driven optimization.

The worldwide health crisis has underscored the importance of analytical models in predicting crisis hot spots, recognizing healthcare needs, and establishing priorities. Despite being adept at amassing and evaluating large volumes of data, many organizations grapple with the challenge of operationalizing analytics to fully harness the benefits of data-driven decision making. The emerging analytics methodology, termed "ModelOps", could be the solution to this predicament. ModelOps can aid organizations in operationalizing the complete analytics life cycle at scale, as explored in a white paper by SAS. This paper sheds light on how organizations can employ ModelOps to capture the full value of data-driven decision making, thereby maximizing the value of analytics across the entire life cycle.

Advanced analytics techniques can be employed to make more informed decisions in operations management. These techniques can be bifurcated into three categories: analysis, modeling, and optimization. Analysis involves the collection and examination of data about past performance to gain insights and identify areas for improvement. Modeling utilizes abstract representations of a business to predict future performance and test different strategies. Optimization techniques assist in determining the best decisions to maximize value creation in complex business problems. Applications of analytics extend to supply chain management, equipment performance, and decision-making across various industries.

To leverage the benefits of advanced analytics, companies should review their value chain to pinpoint decisions that could benefit from these techniques. Establishing in-house analytics capabilities and processes for optimal decision-making are crucial steps towards capturing the benefits of analytics. Forward-thinking companies are already utilizing advanced analytics to realize significant savings and secure a competitive edge in operations management. In an increasingly competitive market, embracing advanced analytics is not just beneficial, but crucial for companies to stay competitive.

2. Understanding the concept of data-driven decision making in asset management

The significance of data in asset management is enormous, shaping pivotal decisions about maintenance, repair, and renewal of assets. The trick is to effectively capture and interpret this data, empowering asset managers to gain a comprehensive understanding of asset performance, anticipate potential failures, and strategize preventative maintenance.

Data, when leveraged correctly, is similar to a crystal ball, offering foresight based on past events. This predictive capability is facilitated by tools such as analytics, business intelligence, data science, machine learning, deep learning, and AI. These are not merely magic wands, but potent instruments that can yield deep insights and forecasts when fed with rich, pertinent data.

For example, models can be designed to project future quantities, predict outcomes, or classify objects based on historical data. This could involve using data and models to forecast future sales numbers based on past performance, or even predicting market shares if new stores were introduced to a city. Another intriguing instance is object recognition in images, where models can identify if an image contains a certain object, like a cat.

However, while data and these tools provide valuable insights, they are not infallible. It's crucial to recognize that these models are predicated on the assumption that the relevant aspects of the world will remain constant, an assumption often tested in a rapidly evolving world. This necessitates decision-makers to retain control of their decisions and continuously learn about the world they operate in.

It's equally essential to understand the limitations of these tools. Every tool has its strengths and weaknesses, and recognizing which tool is suitable for a specific task and under which conditions it will perform optimally is critical. For instance, while pre-pandemic data can be used to create a 'business as usual' prediction, it should be compared with the actual impact of COVID-19 to comprehend the effects of external factors on decision-making.

Data gaps, which could obstruct understanding, should be identified and addressed. While models and systems can be deployed for stable situations, their applicability should be monitored in a changing world. The strength of the evidence derived from data is directly related to the richness of the data. This evidence should then be translated into costs and incorporated into a decision framework.

However, data alone cannot drive decisions. It may not capture all relevant information or account for changes in the world. Domain knowledge and additional information outside of models are necessary for effective decision-making. Decision-makers should continuously develop their decision-making skills and understand when to rely on AI tools.

By embracing this approach, decision-makers can resist being influenced by expensive AI wizards and instead build their decision-making capabilities. This approach not only enhances the lifespan of assets but also optimizes their performance, resulting in significant cost savings and improved operational efficiency.

To implement data-driven decision-making in asset management, a systematic approach is necessary. This involves defining clear objectives, identifying relevant data sources, ensuring data quality, establishing data governance, leveraging advanced analytics, fostering a data-driven culture, and continuously monitoring and evaluating the impact of data-driven decision-making on asset management outcomes. By adhering to these best practices, organizations can enhance their asset management processes and improve decision-making through data-driven insights.

3. Challenges in implementing data-driven optimization strategies

The intricacies of leveraging data-driven optimization strategies within the industrial sector can indeed be complex. Challenges run the gamut from technical hurdles such as integrating diverse systems and managing large amounts of data, to organizational roadblocks like eradicating silos and fostering a culture centered around data. To prevail over these difficulties, a mix of technical proficiency, strategic foresight, and adept change management is crucial.

A notable example of successful data-driven optimization can be found in the consumer product subscription box service, Birchbox. The company faced the challenge of personalizing product sets for its subscribers as its customer base and product offerings expanded. Initially, they utilized a mixed-integer programming model in conjunction with the Gurobi optimizer to allocate products to subscribers based on exclusive objectives and constraints. However, as the customer base grew, the model's average run time spiked to between 30 to 50 hours, jeopardizing production schedules.

Recognizing the necessity for enhanced flexibility in product assignments and improved model performance, Birchbox collaborated with Princeton Consultants' optimization practice in early 2019. The alliance led to the reconfiguration of the model using Gurobi's advanced linear programming and reciprocating integer programming techniques. The restructured model not only yielded superior results and minimized the required number of box configurations to meet subscriber needs but also dramatically reduced the average run time to 10 minutes, a whopping 99% improvement. Birchbox's leadership lauded this boost in performance as "life-changing" and praised the ability to swiftly adjust inputs and assess different parameters.

This technological transformation fortified Birchbox's standing as a premier subscription box service. Birchbox's journey underscores the enormous potential of data-driven optimization strategies to bolster operational efficiency and productivity within the industrial sector. Utilizing Gurobi's reciprocating integer programming technique and the adaptability of the Gurobi Python API, Birchbox was able to generate a larger cluster of customers and achieve increased customization per subscriber, thereby curating optimal customer experiences in minutes instead of days.

Similarly, Emesa, an e-commerce company, leveraged mathematical optimization to automate and enhance its email marketing campaigns. The objective was to increase traffic, engagement, and revenue. Emesa developed a mathematical optimization application powered by the Gurobi optimizer, which automated the process of sending emails and improved the timing and personalization of these communications. The deployment of the optimization application resulted in a 6% increase in email opens, website traffic, and revenue attributed to email campaigns. This showcases how strategic implementation of data-driven optimization strategies can lead to significant improvements in operational efficiency and overall business performance.

Indeed, the path to implementing data-driven optimization strategies in the industrial sector can be strewn with challenges. However, with the right blend of technical expertise, strategic planning and change management, these obstacles can be surmounted, leading to increased productivity and operational efficiency. This involves effectively integrating disparate systems, leveraging data from various sources and analyzing it to make informed decisions, and adhering to best practices during the integration process. The results, as demonstrated by companies like Birchbox and Emesa, can be transformative and game-changing.

4. Enhancing productivity and efficiency through real-time data

Enhancing productivity and efficiency in the industrial sector is achievable through the strategic use of real-time data. The immediate availability of this data enables organizations to promptly respond to any changes in operational conditions, prohibits minor issues from escalating, and facilitates decision-making processes that enhance performance. The implementation of an adaptable and flexible API, like Makini's, can bring about a significant transformation in industrial operations.

The potency of real-time data is not limited to instant access. It extends to the ability to process and analyze data as it is received, enabling businesses to discern trends and patterns that might have otherwise slipped through the cracks. The 2022 BARC survey highlighted real-time data processing and analytics as one of the emerging trends of the year. This trend has been leveraged by companies like Netflix and Command Alkon to derive substantial business value. With the aid of machine learning algorithms and A/B testing, Netflix provides real-time content suggestions, leading to a $1 billion surge in customer retention. In a similar vein, Command Alkon utilizes a real-time data analytics platform to manage data flow and generate indispensable business insights.

The potential of real-time data spans across various industries, from e-commerce and sports betting to trading and politics. For instance, Scotiabank, a digital banking platform, employs data analytics technologies to offer more personalized services and reduce the time taken to generate customer offers from 14 days to just a few hours. This example illustrates how real-time analytics can enhance processes, provide personalized services, and improve customer experiences across different sectors.

The key to leveraging the power of real-time data lies in the tools used to collect, process, and analyze it. Open-source tools like Apache Spark and Apache Storm are commonly utilized for real-time big data processing and analytics. Amazon Kinesis services, including Amazon Kinesis Data Streams, Amazon Kinesis Data Firehose, and Amazon Kinesis Data Analytics, offer a way to create a custom real-time data analytics architecture. NoSQL databases, such as MongoDB, are frequently employed to handle high loads and store large volumes of data in a cloud computing environment.

The industrial sector has a game-changer in real-time data, with the potential to enhance productivity, efficiency, and decision-making. The power of real-time data can be harnessed via flexible and adaptable APIs, such as the one offered by Makini, revolutionizing industrial operations. By embracing this trend, organizations can remain competitive and drive significant business value.

Stay competitive and drive business value with Makini

Moreover, real-time data plays a crucial role in improving productivity in the industrial sector. Companies can utilize real-time data to gain valuable insights into their operations, identify bottlenecks, and make data-driven decisions to optimize their processes. This approach leads to increased efficiency, reduced downtime, and improved overall productivity. Real-time data can be collected from various sources such as sensors, IoT devices, and integrated systems, enabling companies to monitor key metrics and performance indicators in real-time. By analyzing this data, companies can identify potential areas for improvement and take proactive measures to address them, driving productivity gains in the industrial sector.

5. Role of Industrial Integration in streamlining operations and optimizing efficiency

Industrial Integration serves as the pivotal element binding various operational aspects together, thereby streamlining workflows within the realm of asset management and maintenance systems. By effectively melding these areas, organizations can shatter operational silos, gaining a holistic view of their operations. This not only enhances operational efficiency, but also empowers organizations to leverage data for decision-making, driving operational excellence.

Consider SMC Corporation, a global manufacturer and distributor of pneumatic components. Their investment in material handling equipment and software for boosting throughput, accuracy, and visibility is a remarkable illustration of Industrial Integration's potency. The company deployed a real-time warehouse management system across its vast facilities and regional distribution centers. This system, bolstered by RF handheld devices, wearable mobile printers, and a human-machine interface (HMI), among others, dramatically enhanced visibility and tracking, elevated picking productivity by 35%, and amplified inventory accuracy. Furthermore, the introduction of an express shipping lane expedited customer orders, thereby boosting operational efficiency.

Another impactful instance of Industrial Integration is evident in Grupo Pinsa, a holding company spanning the entire supply chain for the tuna, sardine, and fishmeal industries. The company grappled with point-to-point integrations and lacked standardized operational processes. To tackle these issues, Grupo Pinsa employed IBM Cloud Pak for Integration and IBM Cloud Pak for Business Automation to manage integrations and automate processes across the company. The result was a reduction in reconciliation time from 32 hours to 30 minutes and improved visibility into production performance and supply and demand levels. The company also witnessed a 30% increase in timely account collections and a 40% reduction in errors.

These examples underscore the transformative impact of Industrial Integration in enhancing operational efficiency and enabling data-driven decision-making. They demonstrate Industrial Integration's potential to not only streamline processes but also to drive operational excellence by harnessing the power of data.

However, achieving successful industrial integration requires adhering to several best practices. It begins with clearly defining the objectives and goals of the integration project, guiding the decision-making process throughout. It's also crucial to conduct a comprehensive analysis of existing systems, processes, and infrastructure to identify any gaps or potential challenges. Standardizing data formats and protocols ensures seamless communication between different systems, while robust security measures protect the integrity and confidentiality of the data. Thorough testing and validation before deploying the integrated system can help identify and address any issues or performance bottlenecks. Once the integration is live, ongoing monitoring and support ensure that the system runs smoothly.

To streamline operations through industrial integration, leveraging technology and software solutions that can seamlessly integrate different aspects of warehouse management is key. Systems such as Oracle Fusion Cloud Warehouse Management and Manhattan Associates Warehouse Management IBM can optimize inventory management, improve order fulfillment processes, enhance visibility across the supply chain, and ultimately increase operational efficiency.

There are also various tools and technologies available for industrial integration. Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems, Warehouse Management Systems (WMS), Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES), and Internet of Things (IoT) platforms are commonly used. These tools and technologies help streamline processes, improve efficiency, and enable real-time data exchange between different systems and devices in an industrial setting. Additionally, cloud-based solutions and integration platforms can facilitate seamless communication and data integration across different industrial systems.

6. Case Study: How rapid integration leads to improved operational performance

In the relentless pursuit of operational excellence, companies, now more than ever, are turning to rapid integration strategies to enhance operational performance. This is evident in the case of Bayer Crop Science, which utilized API-led integrations to expedite their product development process. The results were astounding, with a 200% acceleration in product development speed and a 5x faster time to market.

Dealing with the obstacles of custom point-to-point connections and data silos, significant hindrances in their product development process, Bayer discovered the solution in the implementation of MuleSoft's Anypoint Platform. This platform facilitated the integration of Salesforce with Bayer's existing legacy systems, culminating in a unified view of customer data.

Transitioning from custom point-to-point integration to API-led connectivity allowed stakeholders to access accurate, real-time data. MuleSoft technologies, namely the CloudHub platform and the Metrics Toolkit, negated the requirement for Bayer to manage AWS resources and offered visibility into key performance indicators.

The impact was remarkable. Bayer saw a 70% reduction in process functions and a 20% decrease in overhead for security and governance. Moreover, MuleSoft's reusable components, connectors, and job templates contributed to significant time and cost savings.

Heineken provides another compelling example of leveraging rapid integration strategies. In response to changes in the beverage industry, Heineken launched the Evergreen Initiative. The aim was to transform Heineken into the world's 'best connected brewer,' as stated by Guus Groeneweg, the product owner for digital integration at Heineken. This involved reducing deployment time for digital integrations, providing a stable integration platform, and developing reusable digital integration assets.

For this purpose, Heineken collaborated with IBM to develop an integration capability set that connected its worldwide network of brewers, customers, and business partners. The integration platforms used by Heineken managed thousands of business-critical applications, automated processes, and processed millions of messages per month.

IBM API Connect platform was a crucial part of their integration solution, allowing development teams worldwide to use Heineken APIs following enterprise data models. The integration setup was transparent to users, and custom monitoring software allowed users to see the value of integration and track interfaces and issues.

In the same vein, the integration of Computerized Maintenance Management System (CMMS) and Enterprise Asset Management (EAM) systems with platforms such as Makini can offer numerous benefits. This integration facilitates seamless data exchange between the CMMS/EAM systems and Makini, enabling real-time visibility into asset performance, maintenance schedules, and work orders. The result is an optimized maintenance activity, reduced downtime, and more informed decisions regarding asset management.

Makini, a platform that provides integrations with various systems to retrieve real-time data, offers integrations with Oracle Fusion Cloud Warehouse Management and VIN eRetail WMS. This seamless connection between your CMMS/EAM system and Makini can streamline workflows, improve data accuracy, and enhance overall operational efficiency.

These instances underline how rapid integration can streamline operations and optimize efficiency, leading to improved operational performance. Whether it's Bayer Crop Science accelerating its product development speed, Heineken becoming the 'best connected brewer,' or an organization integrating their CMMS/EAM systems with Makini for optimized asset management, the essence remains the same - data-driven optimization is the key to achieving operational excellence.

7. Future trends: The evolution of data-driven optimization in the industrial sector

The industrial sector is at a pivotal point in its evolution, with the promise of data-driven enhancements lighting the way towards a future of untapped potential. The emergence of technologies like Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, and the Internet of Things (IoT) has amplified the ability to gather, analyze, and interpret data, thereby forging a path towards unexplored possibilities. Such advancements provide organizations with the ability to probe deeper into their operational complexities, predict upcoming trends, and make proactive decisions that enhance operational efficiency.

Consider the use of machine learning for optimizing production across various industries, with the oil and gas sector standing as a prime example. This industry has been leveraging digitalization and analytics to fine-tune production, amassing substantial data from sensors deployed across production facilities. The aim is to boost oil production while simultaneously reducing water production or maintaining desired reservoir conditions. This complex task, once hampered by skill and technological constraints, is now within reach.

Through the lens of data science, organizations can mine invaluable insights from the vast amounts of data they have accumulated. This approach offers data-driven solutions to specific problems or outcomes, especially when traditional engineering techniques fall short. Data science can derive insights from non-sensor data, like maintenance records and operator usage, which plays a crucial role in the digital transformation journeys of industrial entities.

To unlock ongoing benefits from data science, organizations need to move beyond analysis and insights and create data products. While building data products for industrial companies presents its own set of hurdles, the potential for breakthrough business outcomes makes it a worthwhile endeavor.

As these trends continue to evolve, the role of Industrial Integration in achieving operational excellence through data-driven optimization is set to grow. It's a crucial component in the puzzle of operational efficiency, emphasizing the need for an integrated approach to data management and usage. The future of the industrial sector is not just about data-driven optimization, but also about leveraging these technological advancements in a cohesive, integrated manner.

Looking ahead, it is reasonable to expect that industrial optimization will continue to evolve and adapt to new technologies and methodologies. Likely future trends may include advancements in artificial intelligence and machine learning, increased use of automation and robotics, optimization of supply chain and logistics processes, and the integration of IoT technologies. These trends are driven by the need for increased efficiency, cost reduction, and improved decision-making in industrial operations.

Proactive decision-making in the industrial sector, which involves making decisions based on anticipating and preventing potential issues before they occur, allows companies to optimize their operations, reduce downtime, and improve overall efficiency. By leveraging data analytics, predictive modeling, and real-time monitoring, industrial companies can identify patterns, trends, and anomalies that may impact their operations, enabling them to take proactive measures such as preventive maintenance, supply chain optimization, and risk mitigation strategies. Ultimately, proactive decision-making helps industrial companies stay ahead of potential problems and make informed decisions that drive growth and success.


In conclusion, data-driven optimization plays a crucial role in enhancing productivity and efficiency in the industrial sector. The ability to gather, analyze, and interpret data provides valuable insights that allow organizations to identify inefficiencies, anticipate maintenance needs, and make informed decisions. By embracing data-driven optimization, organizations can unlock untapped potential and improve operational performance. Real-world examples from Birchbox and Emesa demonstrate the transformative impact of data-driven strategies on operational efficiency and overall business performance.

The importance of data-driven decision making is further highlighted by the challenges organizations face in implementing these strategies. Technical hurdles such as integrating diverse systems and managing large amounts of data, as well as organizational roadblocks like eradicating silos and fostering a culture centered around data, need to be addressed. However, with the right blend of technical proficiency, strategic foresight, and adept change management, these challenges can be overcome.

To stay ahead in a rapidly evolving industry, organizations should embrace data-driven optimization strategies. By leveraging advanced analytics techniques and integrating disparate systems, companies can improve productivity, reduce downtime, and make more informed decisions. The future trends in the evolution of data-driven optimization in the industrial sector include advancements in artificial intelligence and machine learning, increased use of automation and robotics, optimization of supply chain processes, and integration of IoT technologies. It is crucial for organizations to adapt to these trends to drive growth and achieve operational excellence.

Learn how Makini’s Unified API can help you build 100+ product integrations with ease by scheduling a demo with one of our integration experts.

Latest articles

Subscribe for updates
Thanks for joining our newsletter.
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
By clicking “Accept”, you agree to the storing of cookies on your device to enhance site navigation, analyze site usage, and assist in our marketing efforts. View our Privacy Policy for more information.