Agility in the face of uncertainty: How Essentra Components transformed business operations through data visualisation

Posted on 10 Feb 2022 by The Manufacturer
Partner Content

Since it began manufacturing filters in Kidlington, Oxfordshire in 1955, Essentra Components has become a leading manufacturer and distributor of vital component parts for hundreds of markets and thousands of products.

In the world of manufacturing, speed, accuracy and transparency are integral to business operations and instilling confidence in customers. So when the global pandemic took hold, manufacturing systems were hard hit and the ability to forecast product availability and delivery to customers was significantly impacted.

As the world was told to work from home, the manufacturing industry was no exception. Overnight, employees across the Essentra Components global network were forced to find new ways of working to ensure they could continue to meet the needs of their customers. This is when Essentra Components’ decision to partner with Tableau truly came into its own, as employees across the globe were able to remotely access up-to-the-minute data dashboards and data visualisation capabilities.

Responding to uncertainty

The summer of 2020 saw manufacturing sites across the world being instructed to shut down operations completely or operate a severely reduced service to stem the spread of the virus. At the same time however, healthcare providers were calling on manufacturers, including Essentra Components, to support the global need to mass produce emergency ventilators for COVID-19 patients. This marked the beginning of a never-before-seen global supply and demand crisis, which was further impacted by the 2021 Suez Canal obstruction and continues to be hindered by long-term supply chain issues and HGV driver shortages.

“Going from an initial lack of need to unprecedented demand in a matter of months rendered existing forecast data useless,” said Richard Willis, Head of Analytics and Insight at Essentra Components.

“The fallout from the pandemic meant nobody trusted the forecasts, while the amount of decisions required to be made in the supply chain had sky-rocketed. This is when we needed the speed and accuracy that Tableau’s visual analytics deliver to reassure our increasingly concerned customers.”

The true value of agility and accuracy

One of the biggest frustrations for manufacturers’ customers is the delay in the production of one small component in the product manufacturing cycle, which can throw off the entire production and distribution timeline. The pandemic made the challenge to deliver for their customers even greater for employees at Essentra Components. This is why the introduction of the ‘delivery promise report’, created through the Tableau data visualisation platform, has become agents’ greatest ally in providing quick and accurate production timelines and estimated delivery dates.

Likewise the ‘date change report’ acts as a valuable tool allowing colleagues to monitor manufacturing schedules and anticipate delays that may be caused by supply and demand issues in the wider supply chain network. Having access to this live data means Essentra Components can quickly alert the customer, and support them in finding an alternative supplier to minimise disruption to the overall production timeline.

Richard Willis continued: “Whilst production deadlines can never be 100% guaranteed, especially when disrupted by a worldwide pandemic that nobody saw coming, having updated timelines readily accessible means that we can proactively communicate to customers and answer their inevitable questions and concerns. Ultimately we earn customer loyalty by being agile and transparent.”

Data analytics as a mechanism for business transformation

Essentra Components began its Tableau journey with 50 user accounts in the Components Division of the business. This has now grown to 600 active users who work across marketing, finance and sales. Through the use of Tableau visual analytics, employees who have never worked with data before are now able to use Tableau to support all aspects of the business including acquisition performance, customer lifecycle management and customer loyalty assessment.

“Having immediate access to up to date data has proven invaluable to assure both the business and its customers in these challenging times.” concluded Richard Willis.