Transforming business agility at a critical time in history

In the midst of the Coronavirus pandemic, this UK market-leading gas supply company’s delivery of healthcare oxygen faced unprecedented demand, from equipping Nightingale hospitals, to delivering O2 cylinders in homes. Datalytyx have deployed their DataOps for Snowflake™ platform to help BOC manage their cylinder stock and logistics data for all types of gases to increase production efficiency and provide best-in-class customer service.

Datalytyx said they could get their DataOps Platform in and working within three weeks, and they did. What’s more, the capability it’s bringing us, to set up, monitor and amend data feeds simply and rapidly, is really quite transformational.

David Galloway

Strategy and Business Insight Manager for BOC, BOC

BOC delivers gas to over 400,000 customers in the UK and Ireland, ranging from large industrial manufacturers to hospitals, pubs and a vast range of SME businesses. Production of gas in cylinders and its shipment is a complex business with a range of more than 10,000 mixtures all of which are filled at depots across the country. The BOC fleet, so commonly seen on British roads, delivers cylinders to customers on a daily basis typically exchanging fulls for empties on a one-for-one basis.

Anticipating and producing the right amount of each type of product is a constant challenge for BOC production management. The logistics which ensure empty cylinders are available for filling is key part of the business given the large number of product variants. For this reason, supply chain optimisation is a critical task which drives the business at a strategic and day-to-day level.

Every BOC cylinder has a unique barcode which allows the asset to be tracked through the production, quality assurance and distribution processes. At the point of delivery, real time scanning sends data about customer stock levels and cylinder locations back to BOC’s finance system (SAP), which enables high integrity asset control and, in turn, drives billing and cash collection processes. To create greater value from this information, BOC’s data science team now use the real time data to provide dynamic reporting and analytics which locate assets moving though the supply chain. This insight has enabled step changes in productivity. The team is led by David Galloway, Strategy and Business Insight Manager for BOC in the UK.

Says David, “the analytics we’ve built up over time have been well received by the business. This has, however, created demand for more detailed information, and faster delivery. The insights have a direct effect on production costs and efficiency, and importantly our ability to deliver best in class customer service. This is vital to us maintaining the competitive edge we have in our market”.

Datalytyx have worked with David and his team since mid 2018, when they ran a proof of concept exercise to demonstrate the value Talend and Snowflake could bring to build a modern, cost-effective data platform. A year later, and the challenges brought by the success of that implementation led Datalytyx to introduce BOC to a new, additional capability. Called the Datalytyx DataOps Platform, this provides BOC with a self-service way to engineer new data feeds into the Snowflake data platform and orchestrate the data pipelines end to end. The speed with which this can be done, without the need to know any complex tools, has been remarkable. So has the speed with which data now flies into the Snowflake data platform.

Commenting on this, David says “When a new opportunity or request comes in from the business, I’m now confident we can make a change within a matter of an hour or two, all under our own steam”.

Justin Mullen, Datalytyx CEO adds “The Datalytyx DataOps Platform gives data specialists such as David’s team the ability to create, orchestrate and test new data pipelines. But it does so in a way that borrows the proven principles of “devops” (agile, lean, total quality management) from the software world, and applies those principles to data, i.e. “dataops”. This means that a new requirement or feature can be developed in a parallel identical (branch) environment to production, and tested, reviewed, and approved in that branch environment. And then made live in production by “merging” the new logic with the master and deploying without issues. DataOps is the future for building and industrialising data pipelines at speed, with no loss of governance or data security. We have documented these core dataops principles in our philosophy called #TrueDataOps and created a community of liked minded people and organisations around it.” www.truedataops.org

Datalytyx and BOC have worked together to introduce modern, cost-effective technologies for handling large and complex datasets. The low cost of entry of these technologies allowed BOC to start small and grow at a pace which suited their business. Now things have taken off, Datalytyx have introduced their DataOps Platform to meet the growing demand for fast access to data of value.

The DataOps Platform provides unprecedented speed and agility for creating and amending data processes, moving large and complex datasets from source systems into BOC’s Snowflake data platform. What’s more, it facilitates this via a SAAS platform which hands BOC data engineers complete self-sufficiency and an ability to respond to business demands at a pace beyond all previous norms.

Company

BOC Limited (BOC) is the largest provider of industrial, medical and specialist gases in the UK and Ireland. BOC is part of Linde plc, which generated revenues of $28Bn in 2018 making it the leading industrial gas distribution and engineering company in the world.

Industry

Industrial Gas

Challenge

Ingest, model and provision data about customer orders and cylinder stock levels / locations more rapidly and flexibly, thereby improving short-term production forecasting and delivering product to customers faster.

Solution

The DataOps for Snowflake TM platform, automating data pipelines ingesting data sourced from SAP and other systems into Snowflake. In production within three weeks, supporting both mass uploads and incremental changes from over 60 data sources and hundreds of GB of data.

Benefits

Transformed and simplified the way BOC data engineers set up, orchestrate and monitor data pipelines. Respond within hours, not weeks, to business demand for new key metrics and data analytics, allowing BOC to act faster, maintain market dominance and deliver great customer service.

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