Problems We Solve: Using Power BI to Manage Hazardous Waste Storage for Batch Manufacturers

By George Delp | August 24, 2022

Use Power BI to solve your issues 1

Microsoft Dynamics 365 Customer Engagement (D365 CE) and Dynamics 365 Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solutions can give you valuable tools to help your business innovate.

When combined with the Microsoft Power Platform (Power Apps, Power Automate, Power BI), Dynamics 365 can give you a powerful suite of solutions to solve even the most challenging business issues you might face.

This is the first part of a series on problems Stoneridge Software has helped solve for our batch manufacturing clients.

The Challenge? Managing Hazardous Waste Storage

In this scenario, a chemical manufacturer and client that creates additives for other chemical manufacturers. They have about a dozen raw material items that have hazardous qualities and require specialized storage requirements. This means there is a finite amount of storage capacity on-site and in no way can you "just throw the extra in the aisle".

Most ERPs have plenty of capability regarding purchase order planning based on demand, production orders, and the like. At the same time though, most do not have the capability to factor in item-specific raw material storage capacity constraints.

This client has traditionally managed this process on spreadsheets, with separate columns for each raw material item and many rows of inbound receipts and outbound consumption used by the manufacturing process.

How Does the Hazardous Waste Storage Affect Their Business?

Managing this process on spreadsheets is very time-consuming and created a lot of manual work. It also vastly increased the risk of human error. If a mistake is made and a tanker truck shows up with no storage space available, then it becomes all hands on deck filling 55-gallon drums for the rest of the day. This would hinder, or ever derail, their production schedule, which then leads to delayed orders, unhappy customers, and disgruntled employees.

How was Power BI Part of the Solution?

In theory, the spreadsheet concept was solid, but the upkeep of the spreadsheet was not. Our solution was to introduce a custom Power BI report that would do several things for the client:

  • It kept a running forecast of the number of hazardous items onsite at any given time. To do this, our team pulled information from the planned purchase orders and expected production-consumption in the ERP system, which in this case was Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central
  • It tracked the balance against the finite onsite storage capacity for that item. While this is not an out-of-the-box field in Microsoft Dynamics it is quite easy to add and maintain
  • It expanded the production order and purchase order detail for each item so that if any item crossed the threshold into the red (too much, not enough room to store). The user can easily hyperlink to the purchase and production orders in the ERP and move things as needed while seeing the impact of changes in real-time

This solution is not a purely automated rewrite of the underlying planning engine, which would be a much more intensive effort. It is, however, a very cost-effective way to handle the issue with a proven method while at the same time making that proven method much less susceptible to mistakes and much easier to manage.

Questions?

Do you have a challenge that needs fixing? Let us know! We love helping companies solve their issues to set them on a better path forward.

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