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Operational BI with InfoBurst is “The Eyes” of Manufacturer in Oman

On a recent visit to a metal manufacturing company in Oman, the I.T. Manager was discussing how he wants to use their InfoBurst and BusinessObjects applications for more operational reporting because of the huge success they have been seeing in this area recently.

A few years ago they had built some very successful Xcelsius dashboards for key performance metrics reporting that literally brought about a culture change within the company. These metrics, which were for all areas of the business to show how they were doing against their annual goals, had been previously gathered manually, put into a spreadsheet, further manipulated and then printed and pinned up on the wall in corridors around the plant. They were only produced monthly and not many people paid attention to them. When they developed an interactive dashboard in Xcelsius and used the XML Data Cache (XDC) from InfoBurst for both handling the large amount of data with optimal performance and automating the refresh through Web Intelligence reports daily, everything changed.   The information was now available and visible to everyone in the company in an intuitive interactive interface and both management and staff started to see the direct effects of their efforts daily and made positive changes to the way they worked.

Mobile Alerts

When faced with the issue of shift leaders not reporting their metrics at the end of each shift, they used an Xcelsius dashboard with the InfoBurst Write Back capability to make it easy for the information to be entered  through the dashboard itself and devised an automatic  mobile alert  through InfoBurst to send an alert to the phone of the shift leader if they failed to enter the information within an hour of their shift ending.

This, in turn, got them thinking about other ways they could improve operations using this powerful combination of BusinessObjects and InfoBurst.  So they created an operational dashboard to monitor the external temperature and wind speed (the plant is in the middle of the Omani desert which makes it susceptible to both high temperatures and winds). The dashboard was again built in Xcelsius and used InfoBurst to automatically send a mobile alert to supervisors with a graphical message to their phones should the temperature and wind speed thresholds be exceeded  so they could shut down parts of the operations.

They went on to start looking at different metrics they measure in the metal manufacturing process itself.  One such recent initiative was looking at the amount of liquid metal contained in the huge crucibles used.  Over  time, layers deposit in the crucible thereby reducing its capacity. Also, the crucibles are not always filled to capacity which reduces their overall daily output.  By cleverly devising a simple calculation to subtract the weight of a new empty crucible from the weight of each filled after it receives the molten metal,  they could see if there were problems where crucibles needed to be cleaned due to excessive deposits or shift workers had to be called to check they were filling them to capacity. A simple report could be produced at any time using Web Intelligence. The Supervisors and managers found this report to be so useful  they kept requesting it all the time (they run a 7 x 24 operation) so the BI team came up with a mobile alert method using InfoBurst that would automatically notify the supervisors on their phones when anomalies beyond a certain threshold occurred.

One supervisor who was ecstatic with the new operational reporting and alerting system told the I.T. Manager “This solution is like having my eyes in the plant even when I am not there”.

Based on these successes, the company now wants to turn its attention to operational reporting and processes in their SAP ECC system using the InfoBurst/BusinessObjects “all seeing” solution.

About Paul

Paul Grill started his career in Information Technology in the U.K. in 1978, as an Executive Data Processing Trainee for Honeywell. More than thirty years later, he still has a voracious appetite for learning as Information Technology continues to advance at an ever accelerating pace. He was first introduced to the world of Business Intelligence in 1991, in France, when he saw a demonstration of an early version of BusinessObjects on Windows 2.1. He returned to the U.S. to rave about this phenomenal product, but it was many years before BusinessObjects made it into the mainstream. Paul founded InfoSol in 1997, and made Business Intelligence one of the key solutions offered by the company. Today, InfoSol is a leading SAP BusinessObjects solutions partner, known for its expert consulting, education and innovative add-on solutions. Paul is well known within the SAP BusinessObjects community for his extensive knowledge of Business Intelligence, and he has lectured and written many articles on the subject. Paul enjoys writing, running and coaching kids soccer, and is passionate about Ancient Egyptology.

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