Soleras Advanced Coatings produces sputtering technology and advanced coatings materials to companies in the glass production and construction sectors, as well as high-tech display and touch screen manufacturers. The company has factories in Belgium, China, Taiwan, and the U.S. to meet the industries’ global demand.
When Soleras was put to the test in 2012 with a highly ambitious growth strategy, the company knew they needed help in streamlining processes to meet the goals set forth in the time limit they were given. Two years into the challenge, they had nudged up sales of sputtering equipment, but they needed to demonstrate rapid growth to meet the seven-year deadline. To do that, they needed more comprehensive view of their global business.
“With a business model and set up like ours, it’s very difficult to capture and analyze all costs and margins across all products and business areas, from purchase to production to sales,” says Ringo Vandenberghe, Soleras IT Manager.
With an inefficient data sharing model, Soleras found it difficult to keep up with the fierce competition and fast-paced nature of the high-tech display sector.“We see more and more competitors emerging in high-growth markets,” says Vandenberghe.
“This means our margins come under pressure and the throughput time has to be less and less, which means we need better control of planning and costs.”
Trusted information, fast
More specifically, employees needed faster and more trusted access to company data. With static Excel spreadsheets employees used for information analyses and sharing, there were no data visualization capabilities, uniform reports, or automatic updates that employees could rely on for better insight.
“We have big data cubes where vast amounts of information is stored. With Excel, it was very difficult to extract the information you were looking for. It took a lot of time to create reports and there was always a risk of using the wrong information ... Excel cost us a lot of efficiency and time.”
Time is particularly critical for a production company with corporate customers and a made-to-order business model.
“There’s no leeway to blow deadlines or suspend production while raw materials are shipped in from overseas is a factory runs out,” says Vandenberghe. “Time is very important to our customers. They need suppliers that are able to keep up. If you can’t live up to the expectations of the customer, you are out. It’s as simple as that.”
Soleras also lacked an assurance that reporting was aligned across the company. With production facilities on three continents, the task of securing consistent data was a challenge. The ability to gain full visibility into the business processes of all plants attracted Vandenberghe to TARGIT Decision Suite
Unified company with a single world view
“Our goal with TARGIT was not only to optimize, but also to measure the processes in the same way everywhere. When you have five plants and each plant handles its processes differently, you are comparing apples with pears. The basics should be the same, and a BI tool where you have one report for all plants helps accelerate this integration.”
With TARGIT, Soleras mapped out a BI journey that worked for the company. The ultimate goal: to go from cloudy insight into operations to becoming a truly data-driven organization. The first task Soleras tackled while implementing TARGIT was to identify the company’s most important Key Performance Indicators to be measured every day.
“You need to have a firm idea on a daily basis of what the evolution of your inventory is and where it’s going. You need to continuously report on your efficiency and be able to compare sales prices with raw material prices. You want to see where you can buy certain materials cheaper. You want to see the evolution of your prices and the cost of your projects. You need to have complete insight on all your costs, of materials, of operations, of everything. And that’s where TARGIT BI and Analytics comes into action.”
TARGIT has simplified the reporting process for Soleras employees around the world. Moving from Excel-based reporting to advanced reports
through TARGIT has streamlined the entire process and saves everyone time. Employees can crunch huge amounts of company data, and rest easy knowing they’re always looking at consistent numbers across the board. This has unified the company and ensured a single world view. Now every decision maker has full control and visibility into their business processes around the globe.
“The kinds of tools we are implementing enable us to all work with the same reporting, the same measures, the same dimensions,” says Vandenberghe. “The ultimate goal is to have everyone report in the same way on the same data, and that’s very important. Otherwise it’s difficult to do decent reporting in an international company.”
TARGIT’s gauges and data visualization tools make it easy for employees of every department to create dashboards
and analyses that give everyone a comprehensive, easy-to-understand overview of business.
“It’s also easier, faster, and more intuitive to work with graphics in TARGIT. You don’t need the IT department to come in and help you all the time, which is often the case with Excel.”
Sharper, instant insight has also improved company productivity. Soleras is able to execute faster and stay on top of customers’ needs and expectations. Thanks to TARGIT, Vandenberghe is confident Soleras will continue down the road of increased efficiency and operational excellence to meet their company goals.