The power of data to deliver business intelligence
There's an evident evolution in progress within the manufacturing industry; one ignited by the profound adoption of technology and automation which enables data to be used to deliver Business Intelligence (BI). In a sector where precision, efficiency, and informed decision-making are paramount, having systems in place to collect the data needed for BI has proven to be a true enabler of success. Now more than ever, manufacturers are employing these powerful tools to glean crucial insights, giving them the edge to not just stay afloat during difficult times, but excel in an increasingly competitive market.
Comprehending the intricate narrative spun by data is no longer a luxury—it's an essential standard. BI’s transformative power lies in its ability to provide data insights that help you to streamline processes, quickly dispense critical information, facilitate strategic decision making, and significantly increase productivity.
This blog showcases some companies that have fully embraced the data analytics philosophy and how it powers their day-to-day operations and long-term strategic planning.
Family-run rubber products manufacturer, Butser Rubber, have utilised Business Intelligence to completely reshape the way they review and interpret data.
Operations Director Charlie Easton said “We use data from BI as part of our morning management meetings, which covers areas such as OTIF (On Time In Full), supplier performance, sales, stock and manufacturing. It gives us a real-time rolling 30-day barometer of that snapshot in time, rather than looking at data on a calendar month-by-month basis.”
Trends that were previously invisible without actively mining for them were apparent straight away with the implementation of a BI tool. Areas such as aged stock or unissued batches (where product had been purchased but not used) are immediately highlighted.
Selecting and adhering to new KPIs has created a culture of driving service rather than just focusing on the financials. A focus on strict OTIF delivery dates noted that Butser Rubber had an 81.8% delivery success rate, however Charlie commented that the figure was intentionally low; “Most customers expect delivery one or two days after the date that we quote, but by ensuring that all deliveries (regardless of order value) are done rigidly on or shortly after the date in the system, we actually exceed their expectations. It essentially pushes the bar higher than customers expect from us and gives us instant visibility if performance slips.”
Conversely, over 80% of Butser Rubber’s suppliers are late on delivery. By identifying such trends, they have been able to look more deeply at their stock and implement strategies to cushion themselves against supply chain issues, which in turn aids their ability to improve their OTIF figures. KPIs are also visible to the whole team on 50” screens on the shop floor.
“Now, it’s all about the customer experience. It’s also made us re-evaluate our customer base. Often, demanding customers that are regularly mentioned in daily meetings might turn out to be relatively small, so we can make better strategic decisions on the business we take on board. The same is true of our suppliers, as we have much greater visibility over performance, so can act on it much quicker.”
Butser Rubber Ltd
Shop floor automation
Eco-Burner, manufacturers of the Chafo burner, wanted to take advantage of business intelligence, but knew that before they could do this they needed to have robust mechanisms in place for storing and mining their data. Their in-house software development skills allowed them to extend the reach of their system and integrate tailored shop floor data collection to their exact methods of production. Ciaran Doyle, CFO, commented; “This allowed us to write some very simple screens where staff just have to scan the barcode on the front of the unit and 123Insight would, through the SDK, update all the stock and works orders relating to it. Transactions that could have taken a minute or two were reduced to simply waving a barcode under the scanner with all the stock transactions occurring in the background.” This level of automation on the shop floor made the company’s real-time data reports much more accurate, allowing for faster reactions to time-sensitive issues, and the ability to identify and react to trends much quicker than before.
In addition, they linked their SQL database to a series of reports, developed in Crystal Reports, covering areas such as stock and WIP (Work In Progress). These are generated at predetermined intervals, delivering reports automatically to those that need them. Ciaran added; “Customer satisfaction is also being tracked using 123Insight’s CRM option. The management team and key shareholders all get a copy of a weekly customer satisfaction report along with a KPI metric, so week on week we can see the feedback that we're getting from end users.”
Eco-Burner has seen exponential growth since implementing 123Insight.
“123insight is the cheapest employee we have in the building. To add five production facilities, four warehouses and 800-900% growth with the same resources speaks for itself.”
The natural evolution
Many companies set a target of implementing one system to control all areas of their operations, from stock and scheduling to sales and finance, but it shouldn’t stop there. Once an MRP system is bedded in, you should be looking at how you can harness the data that it is now collecting for you, with a view to being able to make robust decisions based on solid data.
At the start of any system implementation, you won’t necessarily know the metrics you want to measure and how they’ll affect your business – ‘you don’t know what you don’t know’, yet. However, once your house is in order, and with a greater understanding of your business, BI will then start to make more sense and become an important part of any future decision-making process.