dashboard design

real-time data utilization – in less than two days to the final dashboard.

Carla Märkl

Carla Märkl

If a company wants to network a variety of data, prepare it logically, and communicate it to the right recipients in real time, often lengthy and complex projects are needed. In most cases, this means considerable modifications within the IT infrastructure.  But there is a way to visualize information after just one or two days of simple preparation. This information can then be used as a basis for optimizing company-relevant processes. 

Many companies do not initially know exactly how to start using their data in real time and are reluctant to even try because of the supposedly large financial and personnel effort involved. Yet there are solutions, such as Peakboard, that complement the existing IT infrastructure without having to spend months of meticulous planning. Instead, one to two days of preparation is usually enough to implement a functioning dashboard that shows you relevant information such as the target/actual comparison of production. After only a short time, you will be able to minimize downtime, plan resources better, deploy workers more efficiently, and show employees how successful they are. 

the problem: data that is too old and often too scattered

We all know it: Until a product is finished, it passes through several manufacturing steps that are supposed to flow smoothly into each other. If a malfunction occurs during one of the production steps, many companies are slow to react because they receive the information too late, sometimes not until the next day. This makes it impossible to intervene efficiently in ongoing processes, especially since managers and employees often have to log on to a computer to get the information they need for process optimization. 
The better solution would be to automatically communicate the news of an important event to exactly those employees who need the information at the moment it happens. This can be achieved, for example, by using monitors on the production floor that display process-relevant information in real time, allowing you to take immediate action on the spot.
You can implement such a real-time data dashboard in just acouple of steps. Once learned, you can easily repeat the process of creating such a dashboard at any time, as needed. For example, when changes in production processes require new information, or when your ideas about what data to output and how to output it improve.
Ideally, departments will quickly be able to customize their dashboards themselves and design others without needing help from an external or internal third party. Changes then no longer affect the network integration, since all work takes place exclusively on the software interface of the visualization solution. The interface of the Peakboard Designer, for example, is intuitive even for people who do not use it on a daily basis. But now, let’s get to the concrete steps for your real-time data dashboard.

step 1: define your goals and select the data and target group

Typically, a well-functioning dashboard can be developed in as little as two hours – during a workshop with everyone involved in the process. In addition to the network administrators, this includes the employees who will later read and interpret the information from the dashboard, such as the staff on the assembly line, and of course the department itself. 
First, determine what you want to achieve. Once you have defined the goals, identify what information will be needed to accomplish them. The following questions will help you: Which information influences the process in which way? And: What actions can be derived from this information? Afterward, you define which people should receive which data. 

The abundance of available data sometimes tempts you to try to cram too much information into a single visualization. Excessive information prevents you from quickly grasping the really important elements on your dashboard, as it tends to make it confusing. Regularly recalling what exactly each piece of information contributes to achieving the goal will help you stay focused.

step 2: select a visualization solution and clean up data

The solution you decide on, in the end, should not only be able to achieve all of your goals but at best, be easy on IT resources while doing so. Peakboard does not require external servers and meets the necessary security requirements by only temporarily storing the data and also encrypting the communication. In addition, communication takes place exclusively within the local network, so that no data is leaked to the outside. Furthermore, it is important that communication between the visualization solution and the network is limited to data that has been explicitly released for this purpose. 
Since IT infrastructures have often grown over the years, data is usually available from an ever-increasing number of sources. These sources can range from Excel lists to machine control, sensors or low-voltage signals, to MES, production control systems, or SAP.  Equally diverse is the data that these systems can generate for various status messages.  To be able to display them intelligently later, they are cleaned up and brought into a common logic. 
In multi-stage production, for example, detecting downtimes is crucial. To do so, we at Peakboard work together with the internal IT specialists: They know where the required data is located and what the corresponding error message looks like because every system maps the message “machine stopped” differently. If the error code is known, it can be cleaned up. This means that it is rewritten or freed of unnecessary information so that the visualization solution can recognize and process it. 

step 3: designing the visualization and implementing the solution

The ideas collected should finally be realized in a dashboard. In the end, it is essential that the dashboard is not only nice to look at, but above all that it conveys relevant information so that those viewing it can derive guidance for action. Use all the space of your dashboard, but don’t pack it too full, as described above. The right amount of white space, alignment with grids, and a legible font will also ensure that the dashboard looks neat and is understandable. For more tips and tricks on how to design a perfect visualization, check out our blog post “Dashboard Design Basics”
Your finished visualization can now be installed where it will be used later. A dashboard that is intended for a single workstation should ideally hang at the eye level of the viewer. A standard monitor is sufficient for this use case. A dashboard that contains relevant information for the entire store floor is best placed in a central location and preferably displayed on a large screen. This way, the information displayed on it can also be seen from a distance. 


The process described here for creating dashboards can be applied to many areas of a company. For example, you can display availability at goods issue, create a welcome board for reception or visualize real-time information about company-relevant data in controlling or executive management. 
There are usually three small steps between the desire and the implementation of real-time data visualization in a maximum of two days. If you get all parties involved around the table, you will quickly find a dashboard that is accepted by the whole team. Afterward, departments can independently adapt it to new requirements or optimize it according to their needs – but without having to bring IT on board. 

what will my result look like?

Whether it’s a reception dashboard, a production dashboard or a logistics dashboard – it’s up to you to decide exactly what your finished dashboard looks like. Our templates show you a few examples:

Share this blogpost

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on xing

want more?

more articles.