In recent times the disruption in all facets of manufacturing have left companies searching for ways to meet demand, control cost and improve operational agility. Rapid changes in market forces and covid-induced labor constraints have made it difficult to track, manage and predict demand/supply balance, order management processes, inventory levels, workforce availability and logistics services. In a recent American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) blog, Carlos Gonzalez notes that “…analytics is the backbone…..Without the proper collection and analysis of production trends, the design journey, and supply chain performance, companies cannot properly identify lessons learned to improve manufacturing processes. A proper method of data collection and analysis is required to propel any manufacturing company forward.”1
Analytics have become essential for manufacturers of all sizes and in all industries. According to Paul Wellener, Vice Chair at Deloitte LLP, “Manufacturers should set goals for data capture and analysis across the global manufacturing footprint, as this step alone is a key to identifying breakpoints and opportunities for improvement.” 2
Analytics solutions help manufacturers quickly synthesize information from a combination of internal and external sources throughout the supply chain. Modern analytics platforms —such as Oracle Analytics—play a key role in managing and improving manufacturing operations and cross functional alignment. Read on for profiles of five manufacturing companies and their stories of analytics innovation. (Links to the full stories are at the end.)
Based in Lincolnshire, Illinois, Zebra Technologies makes mobile data-capture devices—for example, hand-held barcode scanners used in stores, warehouses, and hospitals. NFL football players wear Zebra RFID sensors to capture on-field data and generate real-time stats that teams and fans love.
With about 8,800 employees worldwide, Zebra had to select a technology partner that could handle sales across languages, time zones, and industries. Data had to be accurate, consistently available, and shared across applications. To meet these complex needs, Zebra opted for a range of Oracle marketing products, adding to the cloud-based Oracle Cloud ERP, Oracle Cloud SCM, and Oracle Eloqua Marketing Automation services the company already was using.
Zebra also selected the cloud-based Oracle Autonomous Database, Oracle Analytics Cloud, and Oracle Integration and Migration to pass consistent data across applications from multiple vendors, as well as simplify, automate, and improve data analysis. Oracle Autonomous Data Warehouse, which includes automated transaction processing, feeds Oracle Analytics Cloud to provide a single view of sales orders in near real time. The solutions scale to support more than 1,000 users, providing response times of only 1 to 2 seconds, plus built-in security.
Another key advantage is zero downtime. “We field fewer partner support calls, because partners are easily able to access their ordering and analytics portals,” says Manav Purohit, Zebra senior manager for business intelligence and analytics. “They’re always available.”
Based in Italy, Bitron is global privately held company leader in research, development and manufacturing of mechatronic devices and systems for the automotive, appliance, HVAC and energy industries. The overall challenge for Bitron was its inability to access and analyze data and KPIs for the whole organization because it was siloed in different places within the company. Bitron could not see important production process data accurately in real time in order to manage, predict, and mitigate risk. Additionally, the company initially did not have a standardized process among its manufacturing plants.
A unified view of all company data and analytics now enables Bitron to scrutinize and standardize every step of its production processes across 15 manufacturing plants in Europe, Asia, and America. With Oracle, Bitron reduced the time required to access its data by 90%. Oracle Analytics provided a cloud solution to give the power of analytics to Bitron for quick access and analysis of production operations data for smarter decision-making. The resulting analytics are now available to every single user and line operator in the company on a real-time data dashboard. Also, Bitron can now standardize processes from one plant to another.
“Analytics is a mainstay for everyone in our company, in operations, sales, marketing, HR, and finance. Each day, our team members look at the information and then take action based on it.” - Federico Perrero Quality and Business Processes Director, Bitron Electronics.
With 150 years of industry leadership, HWI’s network includes 19 plants, 30 global sourcing centers, and technology facilities on two continents. Following mergers and the opening of a new plant, the company felt constrained by a patchwork of legacy systems, production inefficiencies, manual overrides, and little coordination across manufacturing plants and business units.
With nine different supply chains for various businesses, HWI wanted to move to a system that could holistically support its unique manufacturing and operational needs. Today, the company has a modern, unified digital approach (Oracle Cloud ERP, SCM, EPM, CPQ, Warehouse Management Cloud, HCM, CX and Oracle Analytics Cloud) for planning, analysis, and execution that enables market differentiation and growth.
HWI has improved forecast accuracy, enabling real-time order promising, improved fulfillment, and on-time delivery rates of more than 90%. The company is able to respond to changing market conditions, and better plan manufacturing to reduce changeovers, overtime, and systemwide inventory levels.
Western Digital executives and key stakeholders needed real-time access to data and near real-time analytics and operational reporting from the cloud. Various reasons drove this demand: processing sales orders, supporting finance teams, expediting procurement transactions, and other instances of shared data being accessible to critical users for meaningful decision-making. Simply put, current systems just weren’t fast enough.
Since implementing Oracle’s suite of solutions, Western Digital has experienced substantial process improvements. In terms of efficiency, the difference has been significant. Time to access analytical data from Oracle Analytics Cloud has dropped by orders of magnitude, from a 24- to 36-hour lag in data refresh to about 20 minutes, thanks to Oracle Exadata Database Machine. Overall, Oracle Analytics has cut reporting time from more than 8 hours to 20 minutes. Previous ERP refreshes that took 24 to 48 hours now take 5 seconds. And Western Digital’s IT team is focused on strategic innovation instead of report creation.
“Business users are manipulating data using visualizations in Oracle Analytics. An unexpected benefit was that users identified some anomalies, helping WD realize better quality in the data. We were able to have better insights and better forecasts as a result.” - Bill Roy Senior Director of EPM and Business Intelligence at Western Digital.
Unior Group, based in Zreče, Slovenia, supplies a wide range of products and services—from manufacturing specialized automotive and bicycle tools, to machine equipment, to offering metal processing, and even tourism services.
It was taking months for Unior Group, a global supplier of forging parts, hand tools, machine equipment, and tourism services, to derive meaningful insights from the millions of data records it was generating. But now, having implemented Oracle Autonomous Database and Oracle Analytics—both of which run on Oracle Gen 2 Cloud Infrastructure—the company gains those insights in a matter of seconds.
“With dashboards updating every day, we have the insights to make the right decisions,” says CIO Rok Planinšec. “We can see what stock we have, how we compare to the competition, and where to focus our spending and sales team.”
Planinšec calls it “a radical change,” but with Oracle Cloud “we’re not just keeping up, we are firmly in the driver’s seat.”