Business case: Data-driven manufacturing sways decisions

Business intelligence (BI) tools are a key asset in leveraging a data-driven decision-making business culture. Ideally, your tool of choice can seamlessly manage the data from all your business processes – from purchasing and production through to sales and finance management. For a long time and probably like many other organizations, we noticed a gap in data analytics when generating process-oriented reports on different organizational levels around the world.

Within GKN Powder Metallurgy this triggered the development of our proprietary BI tool iDash, paving the way to digital processes and industry 4.0 manufacturing. In contrast to many off-the-shelf reporting and visualization stacks, iDash focuses on processes rather than on functional reporting. Today reporting and consistent visualization are available at the tip of your fingers every day and without any local limitations.

How can you transform functional data pools into meaningful and reliable data?

When we started our journey into digitization we realized that one of our major gaps was the missing capability to provide process-oriented information in short frequencies to enable better data-driven decision making. Our ERP and other management systems were ideal for providing figures per function or per region, but expectations in reports and data mashups shifted towards a more holistic and process-oriented business view. More often than not, when putting the numbers together we found that they didn’t connect. This incurred intensive and manual data transfers on a regular basis to generate the required information. Regional growth and acquisitions sometimes added another level of complexity when new ERP or management systems had to be implemented quickly.

Finally, the trend towards permanent, almost real-time availability of data and reports increased the demand for a more automated way to collect, aggregate and display the data in an aggregated analytics suite which was easy to operate.

Collect, consolidate and visualize your data

iDash is a process-oriented business intelligence tool that provides actionable information to any level of the organization in a standardized and transparent way. It helps execute global business processes such as budget planning, month-end reporting, capex planning and approval, operations review and much more.

The iDash BI suit is organized along key business processes organized in specific applications.

iDash allows a flexible and modular installation with complementary modules that can be adapted to existing customer data pools and requirements. Financial monitoring, month-end reporting and planning as well as budgeting and operations planning are available and can easily be set up within the system.

Built around your key business processes, data is automatically loaded from any data source, avoiding data input duplication. The tool delivers and visualizes reliable monitoring and management information – every day, anytime, from everywhere and is updated automatically. With all data stored in the same database, setting filters and creating new feature-rich reports becomes an easy task.

Creating a digital culture that drives value

iDash has been a key enabler and trigger to drive our digital culture. The in-build presentation mode is one of the features that has encouraged this. It allows our users to run through the dashboards as if they were PowerPoint slides, with data loaded automatically and transferred on to a standard visualization template. No further data manipulation or visualization is required to run a reporting presentation.

As all data is saved in the same database, users can access all historical presentations with a simple filter selection. Online meetings are also run from the system. Here again, the data is loaded automatically from the source.

Visual Shop Floor is one of the applications in iDash. It is used for remote monitoring of all shop floors at GKN Powder Metallurgy and allows a detailed online analysis down to each machine in the GKN production network.

With information available and shared automatically, regular stand-ups or reporting meetings are no longer dependent on individuals, as every employee can pull the newest information whenever required. With a specific focus on our reporting process, we even integrated Yammer as a communication channel to follow up on activities or inform other teams or stakeholders.

Across all our processes and reports, our people now spend more time analyzing the data and discussing improvement plans instead of discussing data accuracy.

iDSM – the acronym stands for (digital) Daily Startup Meeting – is another important application in iDash that has helped to implement more digitization and data based decision making to all levels in the organization. 

iDash BI key benefits

  • Process-driven data consolidation
  • KPI standardization
  • Reduced reporting efforts drives acceptance & digitization
  • Data-driven decision making: discuss solutions instead of data accuracy
  • Real time availability
  • Cost efficient inhouse solution

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Paul Mairl
Paul Mairl
Chief Digital Officer
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