Ingersoll Rand Key Stats
Department: Supply Chain
Region: North America
Over 6.5 billion-dollar
Team of 4
full-time analysts ½ analyst handling inventory workflow outputs
departments receiving training and upskilling
Helping teams make data-informed decisions in a traditional industry
Specializing in the manufacturing of industrial tools, such as compressor systems, power tools, lifting, material handling, and more, Ingersoll Rand has made its mark across the globe. “We are a $6.5 billion-dollar industrial company supporting numerous industries like construction, electronics, food and beverage, manufacturing, automotive, healthcare, oil & gas, power generation, and aerospace, just to name a few,” says Jamie Beason, analytics and productivity leader with Ingersoll Rand. “We’re pretty much everywhere, but behind the scenes!”
Leading a team of four analysts that support distribution center operations, no two days at work are the same for Beason. “The culture around data and analytics is still changing here,” Beason says. “It can feel very old fashioned at times since metrics are often reported on whiteboards!"
Automating a manual inventory-management process
“My team began as an Inventory Management team,” Beason says. “We were not only responsible for determining what to stock and how and when to replenish, but we also owned ensuring that all items were set up in the system correctly. If you’ve never worked in Materials Management, let me just say there’s a lot that can go wrong inside an ERP system … and finding those gaps before they cause supply chain disruptions is paramount. Our distribution center is Ingersoll Rand’s largest in North America and utilizes roughly $60 million dollars of inventory to support four different business units.
“We were often at the mercy of the demand plan’s accuracy and minimum purchase requirements, neither of which were controlled by my group. The number one recurring question to cross our desks was, ‘Why are we over- or under-stocked on item XYZ.’ As such, we found ourselves repeating the same manual steps over and over again to answer a repeating question. As excel junkies stuck in a labor-intensive loop, we knew there had to be a better way.
When Beason heard about Alteryx Analytic Process Automation™ at an internal analytics summit she attended within Ingersoll Rand in 2018, she knew it was the solution they needed to solve their issues. “What stood out to me the most was the intuitive nature of how workflows were being created and that you didn’t need to be able to code to become a citizen data scientist. My background is in supply chain, so this democratization of data analytics was revolutionary for me.
“We used Alteryx to automate the manual process of problem-solving root causes of over/under ordering. The drag-and-drop functionality made it easy to figure out what we were doing, and because of the personalities on my team, we found learning Alteryx to be a rewarding adventure. We use the acronym FAIL to describe our view of failure: First Attempt In Learning. To us, this meant that having a lot of safe micro-failures wasn’t a bad thing. … It was a healthy thing! This gave us the space to learn the ropes. It also helped that the learning curve was pretty gentle given how user-friendly the Platform is.
“Now, we can stratify all inventory in the building at the item level in under three minutes to create a Pareto of drivers causing excess inventory. We’ve since used this view not only to answer countless questions and save time, but also to illustrate to leaders the key drivers behind our inventory levels. It was a gamechanger.”
A user-friendly solution to upskill teams across the company
Resolving their issues has made Beason feel confident in her team’s skills and power that they have gained. “Previously, my team of four was dedicated to analyzing and recommending inventory control methods and procedures,” Beason says. “With the power of Alteryx and Server, we were able to reduce the load from four people down to only half of one person’s bandwidth because we scheduled everything. Now, time can be spent acting on the data rather than collecting it.
“Since then, my team evolved together and moved into new roles supporting analytics for the entire distribution center. We’re now focused on ensuring that our warehousing operations team and materials teams can quickly make more informed decisions by providing them with meaningful insights. We leverage Agile practices to ensure that our internal customers are engaged frequently throughout the build process. This ensures that the dataset or visualization we provide is what they need.
“When we put the Alteryx Platform together with the Tableau Platform, it’s like we’re harnessing the powers of the universe,” Beason says. “Saving our epiphanies in the form of a workflow is liberating (not only do we never need to figure out that problem again, but now it can be iterated upon!). Then, adding Tableau on top to surface our findings gives them sway. I tell people that Alteryx is like the kitchen where we cook up our analytics, and Tableau is like the plate we serve it on.
“When we got stumped, we leaned on the Alteryx Community for support. It’s like one giant, innovative hive mind: a community of people all creatively thinking and working towards the same goal.”
“Our upskilling benefits have also included recognition and increased visibility within the company,” Beason says. “My team (which also included several critical stakeholders) received a President’s Award for Growth and Innovation for the impact our analytics, dashboards, and automation have had on the business.”
Taking advantage of her skills and knowledge, Beason and her team want to help Ingersoll Rand progress on its analytics journey. They’re passionate about helping the business streamline processes and helping the workforce see things they never could before. “I’m often sharing the trial license link to other teams and offering myself and my team as coaches to help others learn Alteryx,” Beason says.
Shaping a global culture of analytics
So what's next? Beason and her team will continue to look for ways to automate processes and leverage analytics as an aid in their mission to help the company make informed, data-driven decisions. “We’re beginning to dabble in predictive and prescriptive assisted modeling within Alteryx, so I’m excited to see what that uncovers. We’ll continue to leverage Server as well so we can continue to automate,” Beason says.
“The company needs to align holistically on its data strategy. Ideally, all data science people would be united and working towards the same goal. Companies move quickly, but they need to move quickly in the right direction. It’s easy to be old-fashioned at an industrial company, but I think that data science could help us leapfrog over our competition. It’s something that could make or break not just companies, but the world itself, since there is a long list of things we, as humans, still need to figure out.
“I used to think that because I didn’t know how to code more than basic SQL, that my future within data and analytics would be limited,” Beason says. “But now, given how much ground we've covered in so little time, I see a lot ahead of me that is now within reach, maybe even a Chief Data Officer role one day.”
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