How can BoosterBI support the stockholding steel trade?

We are pleased to announce the recent publication of an interview on Business Intelligence Tools with our Managing Partner Valentin Kaltenbach on marketSTEEL, the association-independent information platform for the steel industry. You can read the full conversation below.

BoosterBI for the steel trade visualizes data to facilitate analyses and accelerate decisions

Valentin Kaltenbach is Managing Partner of Kaltenbach.Solutions GmbH, a smart factory specialist with many years of expertise in the steel industry. As a digitization partner to the stockholding steel trade, the company develops web- and AI-based solutions to measure the performance of machinery and equipment in operation. Based on visualizations and analyses of these measurements, resources are used more efficiently. For even more transparency and long-term planning, the business intelligence solution "BoosterBI" combines PDA and machine data with data from all common ERP systems on one platform. marketSTEEL spoke with Valentin Kaltenbach about how BI tools can also support the steel trade on the store floor.

What are currently the most difficult tasks for the stockholding steel trade?

One challenge that will continue to occupy the steel trade for a long time to come is the transformation toward greater sustainability and green steel. Added to this is the increasing and already dramatic shortage of skilled workers, which is being felt in all areas and at all levels. The third major challenge I see is the stagnating or in some cases even declining sales volumes coupled with rising costs for energy and personnel.

What added value can a business intelligence solution provide?

Against the background of the situation described above, the stockholding steel trade is asking itself the following questions: Where do we have overcapacities in our machinery - how can we save costs? Is our organization on the store floor suitable in terms of processing and intralogistics - is there still room for improvement? What do the job profiles of the workers look like - where is there a need for adjustment? Precise measurement data are an important basis for analyzing these issues, making decisions and achieving better results.

BI solutions thrive on up-to-date and high-quality data. Which data pools do you access with your solution?

ERP systems have their strength in the commercial and logistical area, for example in data on customer orders, material stocks and consumption. In terms of processing, machine data, operating data and energy data are the relevant variables that need to be considered in order to precisely analyze the important issues at store floor level. To do this, we rely on objective measurement data via our "Steelsuite" platform. On the one hand, machine and operating data are available here, which are recorded directly on the machines using the "BoosterBOX" measuring device. In addition, data on energy consumption can also be displayed, which our EnergyBOX tool measures during operation. Merging ERP data with machine, operating and energy data opens up completely new, in-depth insights. This then results in concrete strategies for greater efficiency and lower costs.

What are the challenges of introducing BI solutions in the steel trade?

A prerequisite for meaningful analysis is high data quality and data consistency. After all, there is an almost unlimited supply of data in IT systems. However, in order to determine the right data, the questions relevant to the success of a company should be precisely defined at the start of the project. The more precise and relevant the questions are, the greater the benefits for the company will be later on. This is the mental groundwork, which we support with our extensive and long-standing experience in the industry. The next step is to analyze the existing data sources and figures with regard to their usability. Only then can the cleansing and preparation of the data take place.

What should steel traders look out for when introducing a BI solution?

There are a number of leading BI tools on the market, all of which have a wide range of analysis and visualization options. Common products include Power BI, Qlik Sense, Tableau or SAP Analytics Cloud. It is crucial that the implementation partner of the systems has a deep understanding of the industry and can assist in working out the relevant issues. For this, it also becomes necessary to involve expertise from all areas. This includes sales, warehouse logistics, processing and, of course, controlling, which plays a leading role here. For rapid implementation and the lowest possible costs, you can then rely on prefabricated industry solutions.