“We had spreadsheets stored everywhere,” said Mike Nippo, IT solutions manager at North Star BlueScope. “They were large. They were slow to load. One person was inputting all the data, all the information in there. And it was prone to error.”
North Star BlueScope needed a more efficient tool to help it more accurately understand its costing data and workflow, so the company could use it to engage with customers, conduct market-based analysis and build purchasing breakdowns. The technology would have to eliminate the manually intensive process already in place, collecting data automatically from a variety of sources, including Microsoft® Access® databases and eventually even the company’s electric arc furnaces (EAF). That way, the company could reallocate staff and save on resources, all while better meeting customers’ needs.
Automated data collection and analytics
After considering three different solutions, North Star BlueScope ultimately opted to upgrade to the full analytics suite by adding OpenText™ Magellan™ Data Discovery to its existing Magellan BI & Reporting implementation. Offering an advanced approach to analytics, the tool allowed the company to automatically access, blend, explore and analyze data. With that data available at its fingertips, the company could start to better understand the impact on profitability that events, such as plant delays and bottlenecking, might cause, drilling down to a cost-per-minute understanding of its business dynamics.
“Now, in a few seconds, I can do all the comparative calculations needed, be it month-over-month, quarter-over-quarter or any other time period,” said Mike. “What we’ll do is oftentimes study cycles of selling or view certain things that are going on in the market and apply these additional factors to the overall analysis.”
Through the use of the full suite, North Star BlueScope can now better engage with its business. By analyzing its costing data, the company is able to delve deeper into the grades and mixes of steel most likely to generate higher profit margins, identify customers apt to switch products and determine future needs. “We’re trying to leverage that to really look further out to help make better decisions down the road,” Mike said.
It’s also easier to present up-to-date costing and sales information to its executives and sales teams, breaking it down as required. These reports mean the company no longer has to wait until the end of the month to make informed decisions but can do so sooner and more intelligently whenever it needs to. Comparing data to see changes and trends, tracking the performance of individual sales reps and accessing information for regulatory and safety reviews are all easier than ever.
“As a manufacturing facility, we have a lot of regulations to follow,” Mike said. “By having automated, interactive dashboards, we can track and manage compliance. We utilize the reporting capability in OpenText BI & Reporting to ensure that regulators have access to the information they want to see, including the critically important date and timestamps of all safety-related incidents.”
Down the road, as North Star BlueScope expands the application of technologies, such as the Internet of Things, it will be possible to integrate data points from plant machinery into the full Magellan Analytics Suite to analyze electricity consumption, weather patterns, material usage and steel prices, establishing a better view of upcoming requirements and sales potential.