Messier-Bugatti-Dowty, an aviation industry specialist in aircraft landing and braking systems, is using QlikView to support and extend its culture of business process improvement.
Simon Bishop, IS manager and Matt Maguire, systems analyst at Messier Services, say QlikView’s business intelligence (BI) software is feeding a hunger for information at the firm, that goes from boardroom to the shop floor.
Messier Services acts as an "MOT" station for landing gear present in 25,000 aircraft making 40,000 landings per day. It is part of Messier-Bugatti-Dowty, which has 6,800 staff globally and is part of French-owned aviation company Safran, employing around 60,000 worldwide.
The Gloucester, UK, "maintain, repair and overhaul" Messier Services site where Bishop and Maguire work, has several hundred employees, eight IT staff and 250 users of QlikView.
Messier Services already had a QlikView installation, which Maguire discovered to be under-used one day, when asked to do a fix on it: “It was just being used as a reporting tool, not a full business intelligence toolkit”.
Bishop adds: “The amount of data we are holding is increasing daily. And the demand for accurate and timely information was growing. Previously, BI was seen as something provided by IT. We’re moving to it being a toolkit that empowers people in the business”.
Maguire says that previously the division had some Microsoft SQL Server 2000 databases, data in Excel, and Access 97, “scattered everywhere. And even though we wanted to do a massive clean-up, QlikView was able to connect to those data sources and get us up and running”.
Read more on business intelligence in manufacturing
They decided to upgrade from v9 to v11.2 of QlikView, and make it an integral part of the division’s Infor Fourth Shift ERP, and did that by August 2013.
IBM Cognos is also in use, along with SQL reporting services, Crystal Reports, Excel, and enterprise performance management software ClearPoint Strategy. But Maguire advocates QlikView as an “end-user tool, not an IT tool”.
Bishop says that though the finance function is a user the “main take-up has been within operations”.
The software is also being used in procurement, where it is used to analyse the historic experience of the landing gear parts, to see what the scrap rate is. That informs buying decisions that are “always a balance of risk and reward”, says Bishop, and feeds into negotiating strategies on the purchase of the seals, nuts and bolts, and other parts, that go into the repair of landing gear.
“This gives us a competitive advantage in an industry that was hit by 9/11, 10-years on”, says Maguire. “We need ‘what if’ analysis to look to the future”.
Bishop adds: “QlikView is fundamental to our current business planning up to 2017."
The division is setting up a QlikView "café" where business users are released from day-to-day duties to play with the software on a data layer provided by IT: “It is for the business to decide how to use the software, and we will support that”.
Bishop says the division has a strong culture of “lean, six sigma” continuous improvement that fits in with its use of QlikView, which has been “a breeze blowing through the business".
“Everyone is empowered to suggest improvements, whether in their day jobs or elsewhere. We have a system to log those ideas, and filter and implement them”, he says.
Bishop and Maguire say they would like to spread the use of QlikView to other parts of Safran, and Maguire adds: “The moral of the story is that everyone wants to be involved in a successful project”.