Manufacturing concept

Asset Management Becomes Flexible, Urgent

April 19, 2023
Cognite’s co-founder sees data transformation as the key to manufacturing transformation.

Data is everywhere in manufacturing, but data without context is just a collection of numbers. For Norway-based Cognite, one of the challenges in a rapidly changing manufacturing landscape is to bring that data into clearer focus, quickly.

“There’s been lots of data, in manufacturing plants, and it’s optimized at different points,” said Dr. John Markus Lervik, chief strategy and development officer and co-founder of Cognite in an interview with Machine Design. “I can do some planning, maybe, but what is lacking is a model of my entire value chain across equipment or systems.”

Turning data into action is something Lervik said is driven by political, social and economic issues, but it is the manufacturing leaders who are more quickly addressing these challenges. “What is very interesting to me is that manufacturing is starting to accelerate by itself, without government support or subsidies,” he said. “I see a more concrete sense of urgency. With the issues of supply chain and geopolitical issues, we now need to be more flexible in our manufacturing, and to do that, need to be more effective and more efficient. We need more digital solutions.”

Part of that solution is to make sure data is available to all stakeholders within the manufacturing ecosystem, Lervik noted. “Data has to flow both ways,” he said. “We want to be best in world to solve industrial data problems. We believe the data problem is such a fundamental problem. The first step is to contextualize data. If you don’t do that well, you will not be able to scale digital solutions effectively, and then you will not get the ROI.”

The potential for that return on investment, Lervik said, is driven today by a stronger backbone of experience in both data analytics and manufacturing management. “It is now possible to get value in just a few months. The good thing is, that while 3-4 years ago, all of these ideas were conceptual, now we have the recipes at the different stages of deployment that let you go straight to value.”

And in a software-as-a-service (SaaS) model, that value can happen even when the machines are silent and the workers are sleeping. “SaaS is about continuous improvement,” Lervik said. “If you use SaaS, when you wake up tomorrow, you’re better than you were when you went to bed at night. You’re improving not just the processes, but also the technology. With the software, you have continuous improvement, and then you get the incremental ROI. When you start, you get value, and then get more value.”

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