MG Kailis nets a bigger catch with analytics technologies

Taking a smarter approach to seafood fishing and other key business areas

Published on 02-Aug-2012

"We now have a single platform that provides a consistent and comprehensive high-level overview of the whole business, as well as sophisticated analyses for different types of users within each business unit. It’s a flexible environment that is easy to develop, and it bridges the gap between our current and legacy ERP systems flawlessly." - Denise Pogson, Business Systems Co-ordinator, MG Kailis

Customer:
MG Kailis

Industry:
Consumer Products

Deployment country:
Australia

Solution:
BA - Business Analytics, BA - Business Intelligence, Enterprise Resource Planning, Smarter Planet

Overview

The MG Kailis Group is a leading Australian marine corporation. From its origins as a rock lobster fishing and trading company in 1962, it has grown and diversified, and now has three main business units: seafood, jewellery, and marine services such as boat-lifting and engineering. The group employs around 250 people and operates a fishing fleet that catches prawns and fish.

Business need:
As a diversified business with interests in seafood, jewellery and marine engineering, MG Kailis was struggling to gain effective insight into its overall group performance – especially since much of its historical data was held by a legacy system that was not integrated with its new ERP solution.

Solution:
MG Kailis uses IBM Business Analytics software as a seamless bridge between the two systems, enabling full transparency across all data from all business units. The company has also developed specific analyses that benefit each business unit.

Benefits:
Enables the seafood business to capture data on the species, grade and size of each catch, enabling better decision-making on when and where to fish in order to catch the largest and highest-quality seafood. Enables the jewellery business to predict the necessary stock levels for each item based on customer demand, and schedule production accordingly. Gives the marine engineering business faster insight into labour costs and requirements for each project. Saves hours of manual spreadsheet-based processing, reducing reporting workload by as much as 99 percent for business analysts.

Case Study

The MG Kailis Group is a leading Australian marine corporation. From its origins as a rock lobster fishing and trading company in 1962, it has grown and diversified, and now has three main business units: seafood, jewellery, and marine services such as boat-lifting and engineering. The group employs around 250 people and operates a fishing fleet that catches prawns and fish.

Like many group organisations with diversified operations, MG Kailis found it difficult to gain a group-level overview of its three business units. Its seafood business is a primary industry, while the jewellery business is in the manufacturing and retail sector, and its marine services unit focuses more on project-based work. Finding a sound basis for comparing the financial and operational performance of each of these businesses was a significant challenge.

Challenging ERP environment

To enhance its ability to manage its overall business, the group decided to implement a new ERP system – Microsoft Dynamics AX. Although this provided significant operational advantages, it also added a new challenge: the majority of the company’s historical data was still held in the legacy ERP system, so it was very difficult to compare current figures with data from previous years.

“We decided to bridge the gap between the two systems by adopting a business analytics solution that could extract and standardise data from both of them,” explains Denise Pogson, Business Systems Co-ordinator at MG Kailis. “We chose IBM Cognos® Business Intelligence for this purpose, and we’ve always been convinced we made the right decision. It gave us a seamless view of all our data across both systems, and across all three business units. For the first time we were really comparing apples with apples, so we were able to get a really accurate idea of operational and financial performance throughout the group.”

Harnessing the power of Cognos 10

Motivated by a recent upgrade to the Microsoft Dynamics solution and by a desire to increase the use of dashboards within the company, MG Kailis upgraded to Cognos Business Intelligence 10.1.

“Although we were skipping a few versions, the upgrade from Cognos 7 to Cognos 10 went very smoothly,” comments Denise Pogson. “I used to be a Cognos consultant, so I was able to handle the whole upgrade myself without any support from external suppliers. Our existing cubes and models were picked up by the new version automatically, so all I really had to do was rewrite a few of our old Impromptu reports.”

More efficient fishing

The new version of Cognos has enabled MG Kailis to develop a number of dashboards that give each business unit easy access to the information that they need to work more effectively.

“Our seafood business is a great example,” says Denise Pogson. “The boats in our prawn fleet catch, process and package prawns onboard, so they’re ready to be delivered to customers as soon as the boat reaches port. As part of the processing, they assess the species, grade and size of the prawns in each catch. As the season for each species progresses, the prawns tend to grow larger and the catches get bigger, and at the end of the season production tails off again. With the new dashboard, we can see where and when the prawns are at their largest and most plentiful, so we can plan our fleet’s fishing trips more effectively and maximise our catch.”

Near real-time analysis

Another useful feature of the new version is its ability to refresh its cubes faster and more frequently. The company now performs cube builds three or four times during the course of each day, instead of waiting for an overnight processing window. As a result, users can access and analyse data in close to real time.

“When our lobster pack out is complete, they want to see the profit-and-loss on their latest catch immediately,” explains Denise Pogson. “It used to take until the next day before they could get hold of the figures; but now that the cubes are refreshed more frequently, it’s become a same-day process.”

Safeguarding profits

A further advantage of the analytics solution is that it allows MG Kailis to track foreign exchange rates more easily – a critical advantage for its seafood traders, who buy and sell seafood in Australia and overseas. This information is not available in the ERP system, so the Cognos solution pulls it in from external sources and integrates it with the trading data. As a result, the traders can see at a glance what the effective exchange rate was at the time a consignment of seafood was purchased, which helps them set their prices to ensure that each deal they make is profitable.

Predictive stock analytics

Denise Pogson adds: “It’s not just the seafood business unit that benefits from analytics – we have also developed a number of reports and dashboards that support our other businesses. For example, our jewellery team uses predictive stock analysis to align production with customer demand.”

The predictive stock analysis solution takes inputs from a number of different sources – including sales reps’ demand forecasts, current inventory levels, orders from customers that are awaiting fulfilment, and production schedules – and combines them to calculate any changes that need to be made in the manufacturing department. As a result, the company is able to streamline the whole process – keeping enough stock available to meet demand without inflating inventory levels or producing jewellery that will not be sold.

Labour cost management

For the marine services business unit, which focuses on project-based work, the analytics solution provides insight into labour costs, which are the main factor in each project’s profitability. The company’s engineers use a time-card system which logs the hours they work. Previously, each day’s time-card data was imported into the ERP system around the middle of the following day, and then loaded into the analysis cubes overnight – which meant that there was a two-day delay in gaining insight into labour costs. Now, the data can be analysed as soon as the time-card data is loaded into the ERP system, giving managers and analysts a significant head-start.

“If a project seems to be requiring more work than we had expected, or engineers are working a lot of overtime, the managers of our marine services business need to know as soon as possible,” says Denise Pogson. “The new version of Cognos enables them to respond much more quickly when there’s a problem, and helps to keep projects aligned with budgets.”

Driving user adoption

Of the company’s approximately 100 office-based employees, around 40 use the Cognos solution on a regular basis. The most frequent users include the commercial accountants for each business unit, who create the company’s financial reports and analyses, and the divisional managers, who keep a close watch on sales figures. Other important users include operational staff such as the production manager in the jewellery business unit, who needs to align his schedules with the latest demand forecasts.

“Cognos has really become embedded in the company – it’s part and parcel of how we work,” states Denise Pogson. “For such an important system, it’s remarkable how little time and effort it requires to manage. We don’t need a team of people – I can handle all the maintenance and development myself, even though my role includes a lot of other IT management responsibilities.

She concludes: “We now have a single platform that provides a consistent and comprehensive high-level overview of the whole business, as well as sophisticated analyses for different types of users within each business unit. It’s a flexible environment that is easy to develop, and it bridges the gap between our current and legacy ERP systems flawlessly.

“Our main focus now is to keep educating our users about the potential of our analytics software, so that we can stamp out the last of the spreadsheets and ensure that everyone is making the best use of the tools available. New capabilities such as iPad-based reporting are helping us make an ever more compelling case, and we anticipate a flood of demand as people start to see the advantages of taking dynamic reports into their meetings instead of pieces of paper. In conclusion, we see a bright future for analytics at MG Kailis.”

About IBM Business Analytics

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Products and services used

IBM products and services that were used in this case study.

Software:
Cognos Business Intelligence

Legal Information

© Copyright IBM Corporation 2012. IBM Australia Ltd, Level 13, IBM Centre, 601 Pacific Highway, St Leonards NSW 2065. Produced in Australia. June 2012. IBM, the IBM logo, ibm.com, Let’s Build A Smarter Planet, Smarter Planet, the planet icons and Cognos are trademarks of International Business Machines Corporation, registered in many jurisdictions worldwide. A current list of other IBM trademarks is available on the Web at “Copyright and trademark information” at: ibm.com/legal/copytrade.shtml. Other company, product or service names may be trademarks, or service marks of others. References in this publication to IBM products, programs or services do not imply that IBM intends to make these available in all countries in which IBM operates. Any reference to an IBM product, program or service is not intended to imply that only IBM’s product, program or service may be used. Any functionally equivalent product, program or service may be used instead. All customer examples cited represent how some customers have used IBM products and the results they may have achieved. Actual environmental costs and performance characteristics will vary depending on individual customer configurations and conditions. IBM hardware products are manufactured from new parts, or new and used parts. In some cases, the hardware product may not be new and may have been previously installed. Regardless, IBM warranty terms apply. This publication is for general guidance only. Photographs may show design models.