Creating Cross-Functional Communication Using Business Intelligence
Project Type: Future-State Business
Pilot Chemical Company (chemical manufacturing) established a goal of creating a stronger cross-functional culture and felt that technology could be a key enabler. In a competitive industry predominantly driven by pricing, macroeconomic trends, and long-term relationships, the Pilot Chemical team felt that a data-driven, customer-focused approach with internal efficiencies could become their differentiator in the market.
To execute this goal, we provided the strategic and technical expertise to create a vibrant information ecosystem, accessible at all times, and visible across every business function. The team is now leveraging the power of data on an hourly basis to make better decisions, solve new challenges, and operate at a new level of efficiency and speed.
- Established in 1952
- Chemical Manufacturing
- +$300 Million revenue
Assessing the Landscape
- 8 locations (5 manufacturing sites)
- Approx. 20 cross-functional departments with 300+ employees
- Approx. 2,000 active global customers, suppliers, and contractors
- Approx. 30 brands and 5,000+ customer-specific products
- Multiple sources of truth were preventing key decisions from being made efficiently
- Cross-functional communication silos
- Emotional and experience-driven decision-making
Total Automated Digital Reporting
*0% before AMEND
Business Intelligence Tools Created
Estimated Unrealized Value of Annualized Time Savings
“The solutions that AMEND helped us build have completely transformed the way our teams communicate. We went from having siloed, manual, fragmented processes to an automated seamless platform that everyone accesses and uses regularly. Looking back now, it’s hard to imagine what Pilot would look like without these tools because we rely on them so heavily.”
Solutions - Table of Contents
Our work with Pilot spanned multiple departments, all with their own unique solutions. Explore the different departments of the case study by clicking on the sections below.
I. Sales Solution
Pilot's sales team needed quicker access to information used to interact with customers and understand their growth by product and customer. This solution presented pricing, volume, product mix, and cost data to understand the impact on revenue and profits. It also visualized sales activities, variances to financial targets, customer attrition risk, and much more.
Understanding Revenue & Profit
Measuring the exact impact that pricing, order volume, product mix, and product costs have on revenue and profits was the first step.
This in-depth granularity on the business enables the sales team to introduce new products to customers, ask better questions to customers about their ordering patterns, choose which products to promote together and separately, and communicate with the supply chain team to manage product costs.
Since implementing this new tool, the sales team uses it, on average, 5 times per day.
Managing Progress to Plans
By understanding which product types, product SKUs, customer segments, and specific customers are contributing to variances against targets, the sales team is more easily able to select which accounts they need to place focus.
For example, if Customer A is behind on their profit target by 10%, the sales representative can look at that customer’s order volume to determine which (more profitable) products they need to sell.
This tool is collectively used, on average, 12 times per day.
Behavior-Based Decision Making
The team can now understand internal and customer behaviors better. For example, based on previous ordering patterns, the team can see which customers are more likely to stay and leave. Using CRM sales activity, the sales managers are tracking total phone calls and visits by a sales representative.
In the middle of each month, sales managers review their progress vs. targets. These tools, among other similar ones, are collectively used, on average, 13 times per day.
II. Operations Solution
The operations team was focused on making the most product, at the highest quality, as fast as possible, with zero injuries. The focus on tracking metrics such as OEE, on-time shipments, downtime, preventative maintenance, first-pass quality and much more made it a no-brainer for this team to automate, visualize, and easily communicate this information.
Furthermore, it became even more imperative to aggregate these results across the five manufacturing facilities spread throughout the U.S. so that every location could drive behavior that matched Pilot’s enterprise-wide strategy.
Overall Equipment Effectiveness
With Pilot’s complex manufacturing processes, including alkylation, sulfonation, polymerization, and a number of other operations processes, tracking OEE is critical. Pilot started its operational business intelligence journey by automating the calculation and distribution of OEE, aggregating it across location, asset, and time period.
By tracking the trends and values at each plant, the team is able to stay focused on what really matters: performance, quality, and availability.
Automating Batch Production Metrics
With a batch manufacturing process, it is very important to know how actual production values compare to standard ones in order to improve and produce efficiently. Not only is Pilot monitoring hourly production rates and variances to targets, but the operations team is also able to instantaneously flag batch values that seem irregular.
This could be due to either inconsistent processing, quality issues, planned or unplanned maintenance, or simply human typo errors. By using automation to track and manage production, the manufacturing teams are always connected and ready to respond, if needed.
On Time, Every Time
Pilot’s customers rely on a timely and proper shipment of its products, most of which are essential raw materials or packaged goods for other manufacturers and distributors. Thus, on-time shipment is paramount and can have detrimental down-stream impacts if not properly managed and communicated.
Tracking on-time shipments by plant, warehouse, customer, and packaging type gives the operations team an indisputable record and game plan to drive improvements and track progress. With every single shipment being tracked throughout the day and visible to the team, the accountability to ship on time increases as well.
III. Supply Chain Solution
At Pilot, leading supply chain efforts include transportation and logistics, demand planning, capacity planning, inventory management, scheduling orders, and much more. The supply chain function is one of the most critical parts of the process, and without it, everything else falls apart.
Because this team is involved with so many parts of the process, they needed a way to more easily communicate their metrics and information across the organization. In addition, they were looking for new tools and models that could help them make more informed decisions and efficient actions.
Part of the demand planning process involves forecasting expected order volumes by customers, products, time periods, and more. This is a cross-functional effort between supply chain and sales, so easier access and visibility to the forecasts became important to create.
By looking at forecast accuracy and performance by customers, products, forecast types, time periods, industries, and sales reps, the team has a clearly defined roadmap for making focused improvements.
Optimizing Freight & Logistics
In an increasingly competitive transportation landscape, with demand heavily exceeding supply, transportation management is a skill set in desperate need. Without it, chemical companies expose themselves to risks of overspending, late shipments, mismanaged orders, and invoice errors or lag time.
Pilot Chemical recognizes the importance of not only actively managing freight, but also holding their 3PL providers accountable. We partnered to create metrics and tools that help the team understand how to go beyond basic cost tracking, and focus more strategically on how to optimize the process of cost reduction and invoicing accuracy.
In chemical manufacturing, it is not uncommon to see a lot of repeat business and made to stock products. Therefore, managing inventory levels based on expected demand is a critical process to ensure promised lead times are kept and business cash flow is healthy.
Pilot looks at many KPI’s that help the supply chain team plan inventory, such as inventory levels by warehouse and product, days of product on hand, minimum and maximum monitoring, slow-moving product, and shelf life remaining, to name a few. By automating the tracking and visualization of these metrics, the weekly and monthly meetings to discuss inventory are much more action-oriented than before.
IV. Quality Solution
In a complex chemical manufacturing environment, there are limitless potential ways for product quality or customer satisfaction to be negatively affected. Because of this realization, Pilot Chemical’s focus on quality excellence drove the team to create automated reporting solutions and tools to help communicate and improve the quality processes across the organization.
Producing high-quality product is a pivotal requirement for the manufacturing and quality teams. Pilot found that by visualizing and spreading the first pass quality metric across the operations teams, they were able to look at trends, themes, and quality insights by facility and product.
The sites are also held accountable by being measured against quarterly goals and being able to conduct a root cause analysis on primary drivers of increases or decreases in first-pass quality.
Reducing Non-Conforming Product
Identifying and controlling any products that do not conform to specified product requirements is important so that Pilot can prevent them from unintended use or shipment. One unique feature of the non-conforming product toolkit is the ability to easily drill-down and conduct a root cause analysis.
By looking at non-conforming product by location, product, reason, and more, the quality team can better instruct each location on how to make improvement plans.
Keeping Customer Commitments
One of Pilot’s core strategic missions is to keep the customer at the center of every decision. This focus on customer-centricity drives an acute accountability toolset that assesses the team’s delivery on keeping key customer commitments.
By holding each other accountable and implementing customer satisfaction feedback, Pilot ensures that the quality of its customer interactions remains a core focus for all departments.
V. Environmental, Health, & Safety Solution
Managing, improving, and promoting a culture of safety at Pilot Chemical is a top priority, and is driven by a goal of achieving zero injuries. The EH&S team found that many of their reporting processes and accountability mechanisms required manual and tedious effort to maintain. Therefore, they partnered with AMEND to implement an information ecosystem that automates the collection and analytics for all safety-related metrics.
The EH&S team led the design and deployment of all safety incident reporting by starting with tracking injuries. From there, the automated reporting was expanded to include losses of containment, near misses, security incidents, and all other types as well.
The live tracking and visibility of these metrics, across all facilities, has given the business real-time updates so they can focus on what matters most — safety.
Corrective Action & Management of Change
In the event of a safety or security incident, the EH&S team has set a high standard for response and corrective action. In the business intelligence reporting, they hold teams accountable by visualizing corrective and preventative actions, timelines, ownership, and tasks to be completed.
Similarly, they hold teams accountable for all management of change processes by easily creating to-do tasks for each team member across all plants. A team member can have that report emailed to their inbox every morning and have an automated responsibility list ready for them to start their day.
The EH&S team is also responsible for communicating and improving product safety materials (such as Safety Data Sheets) and compliance with regional and federal regulations. As part of this process, they’ve organized a set of several key metrics used to assess the workload, performance, and quality of the team’s responsibilities, including responsiveness to customer requests.
Over time, product safety specialists use these new tools to set goals based on areas that need improvement and celebrate team wins together, too.
VI. Regulatory & Compliance
As a chemical manufacturer that has specialty products sold across the globe to a variety of end customers, distributors, and formulators, Pilot Chemical complies with regional and federal regulations that determine how it can sell its products.
The business intelligence tool kit provides a host of metrics and visualizations that help this team manage new registrations, product compliance language and labels, and customer information. It gets used multiple times per day on average.
One tool that Pilot uses tracks product registrations by state, product, status, and time period. This tool enables users to quickly find information on registered products by mapping them geographically based on where Pilot is able to sell them. The team uses this tool every week to help the sales team with product-specific questions and to help customers with registered products.
It also creates a mechanism for evaluating sales growth and traffic by product and geography, and quickly pinpoints areas for new growth or discontinuation.
Part of those processes, in many cases, includes registering products with different safety-oriented organizations. To track the status of these product registrations, Pilot designed metrics to enable the team to show progress over time, identify trends and insights, and put improvement plans in place based on productivity.