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At the Advanced Engineering event, big data was a key subject that was discussed across the conference, it's a huge opportunity but not an easy journey. 

By Guy Herbertson
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I recently attended the 10th anniversary event of the Advanced Engineering show at the NEC in Birmingham. The exhibition covered many of the key opportunities and technologies coming through the engineering and manufacturing sectors.

Big data featured heavily as an opportunity for the sector when considering connecting your entire factory, supply chain and organisation.

However, once you’ve collected all of this data, what do you do with it?

We’ve seen a demand recently for experienced executives to successfully implement ERP Systems to improve data and management information in order to drive business efficiencies. This is the most basic level of data capture but the demand for true big data transformation is emerging and will continue to expand. 

The Aero Engineering Open Forum and keynote speech by Sameer Savani of ADS focused on big data. An example of the drive to big data is Airbus’s new A350 which transmits around 400,000 parameters per flight, a huge 60% more than the current A380. The challenge is how to leverage this data, for example there is the opportunity to create a digital twin for aircraft engines and utilise predictive maintenance, making the sector even safer.

The challenge of big data is that the aerospace and aviation industry certainly isn’t broken so trying to “fix it” by collecting and analysing data seems to be a lower priority. In an interview I conducted with Sameer recently he compared it to changing the fan belt on an engine whilst it’s still running.

Richard Fernandes from ATOS, talked about successful case studies within the industrial sector to show genuine results and business improvements from big data acquisition. Through this data he showed how organisations were able to add a servitization element to their offering.

The challenge of any change programme is delivering successful transformation that has engagement across all business stakeholders in order to realise the full value of the programme. This is often when Boyden are engaged to assess the human capital requirement, bringing in change agents to drive engagement and deliver effective change. Cultural change is just as important and often more difficult than technological change. Boyden has a strong track record of assisting businesses going through major strategic and operational change.  

Beyond data, my overriding take away from the event was positivity and opportunity. Across multiple industries and companies there is optimism and opportunity to leverage new technology to make the UK manufacturing sector even more competitive.

2019 should be an exciting and interesting year for change.

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