Manufacturing / Modern Analytics

Proving the Value of Modern Analytics for US Based Manufacturing Companies



This client is an industry leading, multinational manufacturer, supplying corrugated products for infrastructure to agricultural, commercial, and industrial markets. Since 1996, this company has been operating a global network of approximately 60 manufacturing plants and over 30 distribution centers. They continually seek to enhance their products, services, and research, and their focus on innovation is a promise their customers have come to count on.

The Challenges

Like all building material suppliers, the COVID-19 pandemic and economic activity boom since mid-2020 has vastly increased this company's demand from customers, while putting new pressure on the supply chain and manufacturing operations.

In particular, the company needed to combine and analyze data from an integrated set of business applications called Oracle E-Business Suite (EBS) and from third-party logistics tools. Existing Business Intelligence (BI) processes and tools could not capture and synthesize in a timely fashion and the legacy BI systems, relying on purpose-built Oracle reports and flattened SQL tables, presented multiple bottlenecks in terms of need definition, development, validation, and deployment. The business and IT teams were also hampered by operating within the small scope of their own legacy tools, without access to cross-divisional data that could provide executives with an integrated picture of business operations and aid in making crucial decisions.

The Solution

This company entered into a consulting partnership with BlueGranite in order to streamline their supply chain analytics and provide valuable insights around customer demand trends. BlueGranite proposed a Modern Analytics overhaul of the entire Business Intelligence approach the company currently used, with rapid time to value produced due to the agility brought by BlueGranite’s Catalyst framework.

The final solution spanned multiple areas in parallel, each using the BlueGranite Catalyst QuickStart Framework:

1. Analysis and Design

  • Define the priority solution areas for an eventual cross-division Enterprise Semantic Layer, a data warehouse approach to gathering transactional data from business systems at its natural grain, then transforming that data into an analysis-friendly presentation
  • Define the process of BI requirements for development with the business area leaders and small and mid-size enterprises (SME) business analytics as stakeholders and participants, to ensure a high level of communication between business and IT

2. Azure Landing Zone

  • Set up an Azure Data Lake landing zone and use BlueGranite’s Hydrator utility to rapidly transfer the priority base data tables directly from the source systems

3. Swimming in the Lake

  • Curate the ingested data using Synapse to find the best extract-load-transform (ELT) approach for the business needs, while ensuring the BI team’s ability to up-skill into owning the Data Lake and ELT process quickly
  • Develop high-priority reports using the new data lake source, demonstrating the full report development lifecycle, while taking full advantage of the Power BI service capabilities for report distribution


4. Training and Roadmap Creation

  • Train the company’s analysts on the use of the data lake sources and datasets for self-service in creating additional analyses using these curated datasets
  • Create an organizational Modern Analytics program roadmap by building on the Catalyst QuickStart outcomes

The Results

This project delivered immediate value for the company in each solution area:

By optimizing the Analysis and Design processes, reports were created and curated within weeks. This contrasted with the months-long process previously in place.

High priority areas of analysis were identified, including:

  • Procurement spending
  • Purchasing efficiency
  • Production planning
  • Fleet management

This has resulted in immediate business value across the board: improved cost savings, improved supplier performance, and increased procurement efficiency.

By setting up an Azure Data Lake Landing Zone and have the chance to Swim in the Lake, The BI team was able to quickly choose to use Azure Synapse as the preferred ELT tool. This removed the need for SMEs to spend time creating business logic for consumption by the BI team, and enabled the iterative enhancement of metric definitions within the BI report development process.

Self-service reporting availability allowed analysts to access and enhance existing assets the same day. Previously, this process would have required the involvement of IT to create reports through a ticketing system.

Through Training and Roadmap Creation, a Modern Analytics Program is underway. The roadmap includes:

  • Systematically obtaining new source system data and creating curated datasets
  • Adding to an Enterprise Semantic Layer for cross-division data sharing
  • Providing data security and access controls in IT-managed and self-service systems alike
  • Creating an organization-wide Modern Analytics Center of Excellence with participation from each business unit
  • Ensuring data governance standards are uniformly adopted and applied throughout the organization
  • Identifying industry-leading analytics applications, along with the use of AI-driven insights, to unlock the potential for efficiency and profitability of each business area, and the organization as a whole

The Bottom Line

BlueGranite’s work with this process manufacturer empowered the company to amplify their ability to provide the right products, from the right vendors, at the right cost, in the right place, at the right time. These efforts allowed the company to realize immediate positive impact to their bottom-line spending, enhance vendor relationships, and ultimately improve customer satisfaction and profitability.

Interested in learning more about how BlueGranite can help accelerate your modern analytics solution? Contact us today!


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