Helping users focus on business expertise

The Context

A food manufacturer with six large bakeries based in the US uses AVEVA System platform and AVEVA Manufacturing Execution System ( MES ). The manufacturer also benefits from seven other co-manufacturing facilities in Brazil.

Our client acknowledged that their MES environment needed to be improved.

An in-depth assessment of the environment, helped us gather the following issues sectioned below.

Difficulties accessing data

The IT policies and design were a barrier preventing users from accessing data. Indeed new users had too many layers of approval and existing users had multiple login interfaces. Managing approvals and logins was a lost time for our company. But access management was also necessary to prevent unwanted changes in data or overloaded reports made by users.

Lack of ad-hoc drill-down analysis

Our client used mainly SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS) . For those familiar with this tool, we don't have to remind. For those planning to use it: Making drill-downs take a lot of effort and time and it is nearly impossible to make ad-hoc user-selected dimensions. Yet one user may need to interact with its data rapidly, by filtering using especially drill-downs.

Absent mechanism for notification triggers

SSRS provided scheduled reports for the teams, but it had on inconvenient: Ignored by almost everyone because they got used to routine and repetitive displays in time.

Indeed, the teams were more interested in conditional reporting. In other words, they demanded reports including context triggered based on conditions.

The Problem

The main problem of our customer could then be formulated as below:

How could we optimize our MES environment to help our team focus on their business expertise rather than spending time on accessing data, designing interactive data, and providing them with valueless reports?

The Solution

Easy-acess to data

Figure 1: Alpana Demo Server login interface

Firstly you can log in to Alpana Platform from your browser once you created your account in only three steps: create the account, confirm it and get access authorizations from your administrator!

An administrator

The Server administrator manages the users by granting them roles or permissions. So a user has a specific role with a set of permissions. This takes away the burden of going through layers of approval in order to get started being productive. Then, the administrator manages permissions according to roles or even customizes them based on the specific user.

Figure 2 : Alpana Server Permissions list of a user

Web Server

Alpana benefits from the portability of the Web. You don't need to have a heavy client, our be in the Cloud to access Alpana Dashboards or Reports.

Ad-hoc drill-down: a few clicks away to great value.

A drill-down is a way of "digging" into a data item interactively. A data item is a content represented by a context. Drill-downs are great to discover interactively data present in a widget. They prevent configuring a new widget for each "sub-category" of data. Plus it emphasizes visual cognition displaying directly a link between each category.

Animation 1: Drill-Down Activity

In animation 1, we have a pie chart displaying the average duration of three production units. Each unit contains production lines. The content is time. When clicking on a unit, we dig into it and display the lines composing the unit.

Thanks to Alpana Designer, it is really a light-weighted task to create drill-downs. There is no need to code, but only to configure the widget with a human-friendly interface.

Drill-downs are pretty useful, to reduce space needed in a dashboard and to explore interactive data.

For example, I can get an answer with only one click to my answer like: " which line lasts the most in my unit " Cosmetic_1".

Conditional scheduling:

Figure 3. Alpana Conditional Triggering Interface

Reports are mostly sent either manually or scheduled. This means whether someone needs to accord time preparing it to send or program it to send in regular time intervals. The aim of reports is to provide insights to the reader.

The idea of receiving a report when something "important" occurs, based on a trigger is really interesting. This way, we get an immediate report of a situation we need to consider, supported by a context to help us understand it.

Alpana offered this extremely useful functionality to the customer. Indeed they were also able to specify the context, content, and target users to whom the report was programmed to be delivered.

The result

Alpana contributed to the customer by taking off dead-time thanks to its web-based server, preventing the customer's IT from designing time and energy-draining drill-downs with SSRS. Lastly, the customer's teams were once again motivated to check the reports they received based on triggers, in other words, situations worthy to be checked.