Siemens Energy Key Stats
Department: Operational Excellence
active Alteryx users in less than 12 months
use case ideas generated
of hours saved and dozens of new insights gained through data and process automation
A global supplier with global data to match
Siemens Energy is a global force in power generation and transmission, renewable energy, and more. Its Power Transmission business unit manufactures and supplies thousands of energy network components to a customer base that spans the world.
The Transmission unit has 36 geographically distributed factories producing everything a power network needs to function effectively — earthing switches, coils, circuit breakers, and more. This creates a huge amount of production, logistics management, and financial data and, to complicate matters, each factory has its own database to store information.
But the business unit’s data sources don’t end there; Tim Kessler, Business Unit Program Lead for Digitalization in Production and Processes, leads a community which also needs to pull information from sources such as SAP, Salesforce and Amazon Web Services. This complexity lead to a major data management challenge, which prevented the organization from drawing the full value from its data.
“There was no data analytics. It was just crunching data,” says Kessler. “We were tied up in spreadsheets, spending all our time consolidating data, checking it was valid, and ensuring our formulas were working properly.”
The organization needed a solution which provided access and consolidation in order to gain full visibility into the company’s data estate — and the automation capabilities to make it simple.
From basic workflows to complex processes
“We hired a new colleague, who immediately asked ‘why aren’t you using Alteryx?’,” says Kessler. “After doing some research, talking to colleagues in other units who already use Alteryx, and attending the Inspire conference later that year, all I had to do was convince the organization and leadership.”
As his first project with Alteryx Designer, Kessler built a simple workflow to automate one of his weekly tasks: creating and sending a cash-in report to his internal stakeholders. “The workflow translates a spreadsheet of raw data into a report spreadsheet, and automatically emails it to my internal counterparts. It’s an easy way to save 30 minutes on a Monday morning, when there are always other urgent tasks to take care of.”
The second workflow already turned up the complexity — automating forecasting reports for up to 30 projects and a group of commercial project managers at a time. The workflow is fully customizable through Alteryx analytic app interfaces, the whole team can easily adjust and consume the output for their own forecasts even if they are not an Alteryx Designer license holder.
“With Alteryx Designer, domain expertise becomes more important than IT skills,” says Kessler. “The business user can build their own workflows and solutions at high speed based on their needs, and then it can be made available to everyone through the gallery.”
3 Reasons Siemens Energy Chose Alteryx
Reducing pressure and boosting efficiency through automation
In less than six months, it was possible to build over 350 workflows in Alteryx Designer, with at least another 200 use case ideas in the pipeline.
As well as saving time, Alteryx workflows are helping the business unit gain end-to-end control over data and process quality. One workflow, for example, sends order confirmation reminders to suppliers, which in turn is encouraging the procurement team to update order information on time. As Kessler explains: “There’s more accuracy and process discipline on both ends now, on the supplier side and internally, leading to better process quality. And because workflows make it so quick and simple, analyses that used to take hours every month can be run daily in minutes.”
The impact of automation became even clearer during COVID-19 lockdowns in 2020, when many employees were forced to work remotely. One process in a department uses a huge Microsoft Access database and took up to six hours to complete the analysis overnight. But there was a catch: it could only be launched from a specific workstation, and its operator was classed as high-risk, which meant he wasn’t able to come into the office.
By building a workflow in Alteryx Designer, the team could not only launch this process remotely, but dramatically reduce the time it took to run. Instead of hours overnight, it now completes in minutes.
For Kessler, working with Alteryx Designer on projects like this has created a real sense of relief. “You know that automation is taking care of the process,” he says. “The workflows can all run independently — often we don’t even need to click a button. And that means we’re not dependent on individual attendance times or office hours.”
Driving digitalization through people power
Within just a few months of introducing Alteryx, Kessler’s community within his business unit has grown to approximately 100 active users alongside a wider Siemens Energy community of 600 license holders. “There’s a strong Alteryx power user community within Siemens Energy supporting and relying on each other,” he says. “We're creating a powerful network of data workers, future skills, mindset and use case ideas.”
For Kessler, the automation this community is achieving with Alteryx is helping drive a wider program and spirit of digitalization within Siemens Energy. “As we move more into Industry 4.0, and focusing on using machine learning and artificial intelligence, topics like data democracy and literacy will be so important. In this context, digital transformation is only successful when you involve the people it impacts — and with Alteryx, we put the power right in their hands.”
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