Never before have businesses been able to collect so much information about so many components of their operations.

Yet, what good is data if you don’t know how to leverage it and utilize it?

Steve Starner, Vice President of Integrated Factory Solutions at Hexagon, said it’s easy for departments or even companies to have too insular a view instead of drawing on how others are utilizing the information they’re gathering.

“People today often look for improvements, but those improvements are often within the typical ‘silo’ of a company, so that means within engineering or within manufacturing or within quality,” he said. “I think a lot of companies can benefit by capturing and analyzing data that streams through those kind of walls of the different departments within a company. We need to think about how data in engineering can help us in manufacturing and vice versa.”

There also can be a tendency to get to focused on one process, but Hexagon looks at the big picture to understand what metrics companies are trying to hit and what improvements can be made. Starner remembers working with an aerospace company that was looking for a metrology solution. Upon arrival, however, the team realized there was a bigger inefficiency they could fix.

“There was a manual drilling operation that was very labor intensive, very tooling intensive and prone to mistakes. As a matter of fact, that one area is what created more of their scrap than any other single process,” Starner said. “So, we changed direction on what we were focusing on away from just the metrology aspect to this area that looked a lot more fruitful from a return on investment point of view.”

While automation was difficult, Hexagon made it fit within the company’s needs and turned a $600,000 investment with a return of over two years to a $1.5 million investment with a nine-month return.

“I think we achieved, for them, something much greater than they initially started,” Starner said.

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