Fuel for management: Power BI brings elemental tank storage data to life
User Report by Marquard & Bahls
An important pillar of the Hamburg family business Marquard & Bahls is the tank storage logistics. The subsidiary Oiltanking, which operates 79 tank farms in 24 countries, is one of the world's leading independent operators of storage tanks for mineral oils, chemicals and gases. Their business success is based on a pronounced customer and service orientation as well as creative solutions for logistics processes that go far beyond the traditional warehouse services. This includes an ef fi cient handling of logistical processes. However, inventory management for Oiltanking brings with it some peculiarities that complicate the mapping in standard software.
Therefore, the IT department hanged in the holding company was commissioned to carry out a new individual development, which in the medium term should replace the existing system together with the well-known Excel problem. In terms of content, the new reporting system should provide information on the time sequence of shipments and clearances as well as key figures and comparisons, thereby revealing potential for optimization. As far as the analysis and presentation of the data are concerned, the focus was on the self-service concept: the business users should be able to independently access and process important company information - regardless of location or device.
pmOne - already known from other projects at Marquard & Bahls - was initially consulted on the project NewtonBI to explore what is technically possible and useful. It quickly became clear that the implementation should be done with Microsoft technology:
We wanted to stay in the Microsoft stack for that reason alone because of the infrastructure and know-how in the company," explains project manager Benjamin Gudd. The team opted for a smart enterprise data warehouse architecture based on SQL Server. Here, among other things, envelopes from different perspectives (product, contract, tank ...) are calculated, the throughput times of loading and unloading processes evaluated and tank utilization calculated. The perfect complement is Power BI, the Microsoft service that enables interactive visualization with self-service capabilities.
In addition to consulting and design services, as the project progressed, pmOne employees also undertook the implementation of requirements, technical developments and, finally, the initial training. The collaboration, described by Gudd as "very trusting", went hand in hand. Together, the first concrete application examples were reviewed and considered, which data, dimensions etc. are relevant for a realization. For example, at the loading of loading stations: How long does the loading take? Where and why are there delays? This very practice-oriented approach had soon proven itself, and NewtonBI took shape. After an initial project phase of about six months, in summer 2016 the pilot launch was scheduled for a smaller site; Before the end of the year, two larger locations were networked. Since then, NewtonBI has been a running project, to which successively more than 25 locations will be connected and which will also be constantly expanded in terms of content in order to meet new, additional requirements.
Based on the tank farm management system, Marquard & Bahls IT, with the support of pmOne, has created a state-of-the-art business intelligence solution that provides users with maximum convenience: state-of-the-art dashboard functionality, access from anywhere, and power BI reports that are optimized for the business respective terminal are aligned. Added to this is a near-availability of data that is very close to the source system. "We're talking about a time difference in the minute range," confirms Gudd.
In addition to fast, automated data processing, NewtonBI scores particularly in terms of evaluation and visualization. This makes it easy to view and compile a wide range of information, such as envelopes in the dashboard, and according to individual requirements over specific periods of time. The key figures and information provided ensure transparency and form the basis for optimized tank farm management. In this way, it is possible to uncover potential for improvement, to represent utilization levels and thereby to increase the speed of processing and to reduce waiting times. All these are elementary information for the management of the locations, but also for sales staff, account managers and group and shift supervisors. For them all, NewtonBI provides many parameters to achieve improved processes in their day-to-day business - and ultimately to increase customer satisfaction.