For crop-sprayer manufacturer Hardi, when supply chain complexities needed to be addressed through data management, TimeXtender® proved to be the right tool for the job
Protecting Food Crops Globally
Established in Denmark in 1957, Hardi has grown to become a world leader in crop protection and sprayer equipment. With products ranging from man-portable products and components all the way up to self-propelled agricultural units, it maintains its position not only by constantly innovating but also by supplying customers with exactly the products they need.
Meeting Demand with Specific Products
The complex setups and specific configurations demanded by its agribusiness users means that Hardi’s products are not always off-the-shelf since models can also be highly customized. Since such units are often built from a base plate upwards, costs and capabilities are calculated on how much welding, machining and even painting each one will require.
To control this unusual manufacturing process effectively, the business needs clear, easy-to-understand data analysis of every step from planning and manufacture through to delivery. With such processes in place, Hardi can keep track of its manufacturing, deliver on its promises and accurately analyze its finances and sales statuses. As is so often the case in the modern world, what it needed to achieve this was a stricter control of its business data.
The Right Tool for the Job
Although Hardi operates internationally, its ERP system is centralized in Denmark, so finding a new data management system was less about combining multiple data sources and more about making the most of the single source it already had.
Jørn Ø. Petersen is Administrator of Business Systems at Hardi International. “It was a matter of finding the right tool for the job,” he says, “a solution that would make it easy and fast to get our BI up and running. So we looked at what was available on the market that could quickly generate the data we needed. We weren’t interested in any traditional solutions that required us to develop systems – we wanted it done quickly and easily and we wanted a solution that worked across all departments. Rather than relying on single skilled employees doing great reports from their own little hubs, we wanted a centralized, secure solution where everyone was working with the same set of data.”
Hardi quickly realized that TimeXtender offers the flexibility and ease-of-use that it was looking for. By being independent of analysis tools, TimeXtender can feed, for example, Microsoft’s Power BI with the data it requires to visualize data in ways that are clear and valuable to users. Yet by also being fully customizable, TimeXtender allows Hardi to add in enough fields to match the complex nature of its product builds. “Since we are configuring our products to each customer’s needs,” says Jørn, “to really capture the detail of complexity in reports, we really have to work with some quite complicated data.”
Making the Complicated Simple
In TimeXtender, Hardi now has the possibility for a broad range of sources that are independent of whichever platforms it is currently using. This flexibility and adaptability make it a very strong tool for future implementations and demands. Hardi has already gone from using Microsoft Office, Excel, and Access as front-ends to Power BI without any problems at all, further aiding to the development of a Microsoft data estate. Similarly, as a back-end source, TimeXtender ensures that should the business ever upgrade its ERP system, it will still have a functional data management architecture.
Yet this powerful solution comes with a surprisingly light footprint. “We have not had a single employee working on it full-time,” notes Jørn, “since TimeXtender tasks are something we do on the side.” Indeed, the wide range of automated tasks that TimeXtender is capable of has meant that working with TimeXtender feels like, “having an extra full-time member of staff.”
“We’ve found that 98% of problems we can sort out ourselves, so when we do ask TimeXtender for help, it’s usually because they might solve a really demanding task in a faster way we haven’t yet thought of. We’ve even undertaken staff training ourselves, although these have been mainly about our naming conventions and general stuff like that. What’s important when using a tool like this is that people don’t just start to flip on and off fields and tables or give them all sorts of different names. When all fields are named in a correct and sensible way, there will never be any confusion about what the purpose of each is.”
Jørn Ø. Petersen, Administrator of Business Systems, Hardi International
Having all the data in a centralized place doesn’t mean that all of Hardi’s data is available to everyone, however. The recently implemented GDPR legislation means that every organization must be able to document who has access to an individual’s data and for what purpose. In this respect, TimeXtender’s privacy settings automatically restrict certain data fields depending on the user’s status.
These automated restrictions have other benefits too. A user in Australia, for example, only needs the data that applies to them, so the system restricts it for purely performance reasons. “That’s not something to prevent them from seeing something,” explains Jørn, “it’s just to make the reporting work faster. Instead of trying to pull one million rows down the line, they are only getting the 100,000 rows they need. That just makes sense.”
As a robust data management platform, TimeXtender creates a single source of data capable of feeding any number of BI applications. By doing so with minimal support from staff, it saves time. Widespread automation, plus features such as continuous incremental loading of additional data, save even more time, allowing Hardi and companies like it to concentrate on their business rather than maintaining their back-end systems.