Snowflake and the Power of Data in Manufacturing


The manufacturing industry has been the staple for growth and development dating back to the Industrial Revolution. Even before the use of machinery, goods were manufactured by hand through skilled trades. Through the introduction of advanced machinery, the manufacturing industry has grown to touch just about every other industry as well. What used to be metal working and textiles, manufacturing now spans across industries from aerospace and automotive to food and chemical industries. With the advancement of technology throughout the 20th century, machines were used primarily to increase one thing: efficiency. Despite these improvements, manufacturers today still face many problems in operating their businesses.

Top Five Manufacturing Problems
  1. Quality Management
  2. Minimizing Waste
  3. Inventory Management
  4. Demand Forecasting Predictions
  5. Maximizing Automation

Learning how to manage a supply chain is a never-ending process for manufacturing firms. While the 20th century was focused on efficiency, the high growth manufacturers of today are focused on the next step: optimization.

The best way to optimize your business is through data.

By nature, manufacturing companies produce a lot of data. This includes all the product information, order tracking, machine time, and inventory quantities. This does not even include sales and financial data. The real question is how are manufacturing companies using this data? Are they just sitting on unutilized data that could be the answer to taking their company to the next step and into the 21st century of data?

Unfortunately, the reality of many manufacturing firms is that these data sources are tied up in different locations across their companies. They can never compare product quality data with inventory data if those two systems are never talking to each other. The good news is that there is a solution.

Snowflake and Manufacturing

In the world of data, there has been no hotter topic than Snowflake in the past year. While this is mainly due to their record IPO in the fall of 2020, Snowflake excited data scientists as much as it did market investors. Snowflake provides the ultimate solution for companies looking to harness all their data into one single source. Imagine having all of the sales, labor, inventory, waste, and product information all in one place and able to actually make decisions from these numbers. Snowflake does exactly that and they have turned to the manufacturing industry as a perfect use case.

This past week, CSpring’s data and analytics team had the ability to attend a Snowflake webinar that was strictly on the power of Snowflake and manufacturing. This webinar provided an overview of Snowflake’s cloud and data sharing capabilities along with a use case for one of their partner manufacturing companies. During the overview, three problems with current technology were identified that were holding manufacturing companies back.

Legacy Technology is Holding Companies Back
  1. Data silos hamper comprehensive visibility and data sharing across plants and warehouses, manufacturing facilities, distribution centers, and partners.
  2. Legacy solutions lack the elasticity and flexibility needed to scale up or down based on market demand and production workloads.
  3. Outdated technologies cannot handle the volume of data coming in from thousands of IoT sensors.

Ultimately, the biggest takeaway from the webinar was that data is worthless if you cannot analyze it. And you cannot analyze it if you cannot even access it in the first place. Using a system such as an ERP in conjunction with a cloud storage solution like Snowflake, manufactures can for the first time get a live look at the metrics behind their businesses. The data harnessed from machines, when used with inventory, sales, and quality management data, can start to lead to insights that will optimize a business’s growth going forward.

Manufacturers that are truly harnessing their data can produce more, waste less, and more accurately predict the avenues of growth going forward. This dream situation is visualized in the center circle, but Snowflake takes their value add to the next level. As important as it is to centralize a company’s personal data, it is equally beneficial to tie that data to outside resources. That is the beauty of Snowflake’s data sharing capabilities. Now manufacturers can tie shipping data in with weather data or product data with industry demand data sets to forecast demand. As Snowflakes gains more users, this value add only increases as the data sharing possibilities are seemingly endless.

For more information on what CSpring can do for you with Snowflake, be sure to reach out here!