RESEARCH & RESOURCES

CASE STUDY - Bombardier Transportation Ensures a “Smooth Ride” with Data Quality

Commentary by Dr. Claudio Gruler, Project Integration Manager, Bombardier Transportation

Setting the Standard

Standards are critical for the railway industry, in which seamless interoperability of parts is fundamental. When it comes to data quality standards, however, rail manufacturers are prone to the same challenges many other companies face.

After many years of acquiring and consolidating businesses, Bombardier Transportation, the global leader in the rail equipment manufacturing and servicing industry, faced profound disarray in its corporate data. The company had more than 70 databases in eight legacy systems; they contained data on 2.8 million materials and discrete parts from over 200,000 suppliers. All of this critical information was stored in more than nine million records in five different languages.

Bombardier recognized the importance of achieving a harmonized view of the supply chain. This became the major driver of an enterprise data quality initiative.

Supply Chain Efficiencies

Like any capital-intensive manufacturer, Bombardier saw opportunities for big savings in streamlining its $1.3 billion procurement operation and in reducing inventory. Bombardier will likely gain a savings of 3–5 percent annually by negotiating more favorable contracts based on an enterprisewide understanding of supplier relationships. For example, once the Trillium Software System® was in place, the team discovered that one supplier, which was thought to have contributed $4–5 million to the company’s business, actually did $135 million.

An up-to-date, unified view of all inventory enabled Bombardier to save significant time and money. The company spent less by using surplus from one location to supplement inventory at another, and it eliminated the weeks, sometimes even months, of delay in waiting for specialty parts ordered from a supplier. Bombardier also reduced inventory by eliminating rarely used and obsolete parts. The results rippled through the supply chain: better inventory management increased on-time deliveries and shortened repair times.

“We can now track globally where parts are with the push of a button,” says Dr. Claudio Gruler, Project Integration Manager at Bombardier.

The Free-Form Text Challenge

One overarching goal was to reduce the amount spent on procurement by 30 percent in three years. To support this goal, Bombardier needed a data quality solution that could improve critical product and inventory data, including orders, parts, and materials in addition to name-and-address data. However, much of the identifying data was buried in free-form text. In choosing the Trillium Software System, Bombardier found a solution that could process name-and-address and specific business data concurrently—all for the price of a standard license.

Reliable, Up-to-Date Reports

Reports that used to take up to six months to prepare are now done weekly. Nine million records are integrated, including 3 GB of changed records on average. Now, data for strategic analysis and business intelligence is distributed across the enterprise to about 300 decision makers. Once wary of the outdated and incomplete data they received, they now fully trust the weekly reports to help them make the best decisions.

The Road to ROI

The results of the data quality efforts exceeded Bombardier’s expectations. Before implementing the Trillium Software System, less than half of the records contained accurate codes. After implementation, the system matched 88 percent of records with product codes, which actually covered 96 percent of all of Bombardier’s parts and materials.

Bombardier developed custom business rules and logic within the Trillium Software System to meet its specific needs. The software now interprets free-form text, finding commodities, parts, and products, and assigns standard codes for each.

The data quality project has given Bombardier a unified customer view that has increased the company’s up-sell and cross-sell success and allows the company to apply common pricing policies to all its suppliers and customers around the world. In addition, through a better understanding of product and parts lifecycles, it can anticipate and plan for demand, both in manufacturing and in proactive marketing.

Says Gruler, “It is an intelligent tool that we can teach how to interpret our data.”

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