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Agility in daily operations using the Power Platform

Agility in daily operations using the Power Platform

Agility in daily operations using the Power Platform 2400 900 Xcelpros Team

Introduction

COVID-19 continues to test supply chain and manufacturing operations around the world. More than 18 months after exploding onto the scene, companies still have their hands full dealing with ill workers, limited working hours and uncertain supply chains. Businesses are evaluating how to improve efficiency, lower costs and increase operational performance. The immediate question on everyone’s mind is, “how are we coming out of this crisis?”

While employee safety is a top priority during this pandemic, mitigating the impact on the day-to-day operations is crucial to business leaders. CEOs and CFOs are facing the unprecedented challenge of pivoting product demands and preserving growing cash flow. Implementing a “do more with less” attitude while gaining a few quick wins in the process can build the momentum needed to keep companies moving forward.

Figure: 1 The Ecosystem of an Integrated Supply Chain

The Ecosystem of an Integrated Supply Chain

Pivoting the Plan

The role of the chief information officer (CIO) is critical in risk mitigation strategies. They can draft a plan to determine how the COVID crisis is affecting the company infrastructure short term. The plan must keep operations running smoothly while acknowledging that long term projects and roadmap budgets are affected.

One example is switching employees to remote work while maintaining operations. Software tools like Microsoft Teams and Skype let companies communicate with far-flung workers and managers while the interfaces similar to those in Office 365 programs eases the transition.

Keeping the Lines Open

Not all production and distribution employees work from home even when social distancing and masking restrictions limit face-to-face contact. Many workers are considered essential, causing some factories to switch from a single shift to running 24/7. These facilities are adding shifts and ramping up capacity, working hard to keep warehouses stocked with raw materials and finished products.

Since computer software and machines are now working longer hours, the companies that support them must do the same or risk losing clients.

Figue: 2 Microsoft Power Platform: An Integrated Solution

Microsoft Power Platform: An Integrated Solution

As companies move back and forth between remote and in-person workers, having the right tools in place can help boost communication between production plants and supporting vendors. One example of an effective toolbox is the Microsoft Power Platform. This “low-code, no-code” platform can be installed and running in a matter of hours to generate a quick win. A no-code solution is valuable when needing to make quick decisions while maintaining critical operations.

65%

of all app development will be low code by 2024

Source: Gartner

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PowerApps are a suite of apps, services, connectors and data platforms providing a rapid application development environment, Microsoft states. “Using Power Apps, you can quickly build custom business apps that connect to your business data stored either in the underlying platform or in various online and on-premises data sources, such as SharePoint, Dynamics 365, Microsoft 365, SQL Server, etc.”

Using custom-built apps connected to internet of things (IoT)-enabled devices, workers gain access and insights into machines that may be headed for trouble. Staff is alerted before shutdowns are required. This lets technicians replace worn parts before production unexpectedly stops.

Power Apps can connect to hundreds of business systems and databases. They make it easy to connect workers with the existing processes and data while working through Microsoft Outlook to keep key staff informed.

Power App benefits include:

1.Greater development agility Automate and simplify repetitive, time-consuming processes to launch faster while reducing errors.

2.Speed and savings Reduce time and cost building web and mobile applications, enabling companies to work through their development project list.

3.Achieve more while doing less Some Power Apps are fully functional out of the box. They have data presets using standard business logic and rules making them fully customizable to individual business needs.

Meeting the Demand

Before the coronavirus, businesses made supply chain forecasts based on the then normal business operations. Now, though, many firms are switching to a demand planning model.

Executives are continually evaluating sales and budget plans. Power Apps let them do it faster. For example, the sales and operations teams can hold “what-if analysis” scenario planning sessions. Using a consumption-driven model boosted by industry and customer knowledge, companies can lower their risk. Similar methods let major carmakers quickly switch their production lines from automotive parts to building ventilators for critical hospital patients and then move back to normal operations when the situation changed.

One such app is Microsoft Power Automate. It automates tedious manual analytic processes when quick decisions are required. Automate provides a creative, cost-effective strategy for businesses to connect their existing legacy systems.

An example is activating workflows for approvals in a matter of hours instead of days.

As workforces become a hybrid of remote and on-site team members, Power Automate can reduce the time spent tracking down approvals and keep things moving.

When companies combine a smaller, leaner workforce with greater demands and less time and then add more government regulations, they increase pressure on managers to make the right decisions quickly or risk falling out of compliance.

Another essential Microsoft Power Platform app is Power Bi, which “bridges the gap between data and decision making.”

The business analytics service delivers insights helping business leaders make fast, informed decisions now and when developing future emergency response plans.

Power Bi:

  • Transforms data into stunning visuals for sharing to any device
  • Exploring and analyzing data in one view
  • Permits sharing customized dashboards and interactive reports

Staying Ahead

In addition to machine maintenance, following federal and state coronavirus guidelines is critical to keeping operations running and employees safe. The Power Platform has several new tools with the pandemic and other emergencies in mind.

  • Crisis Communication- A sample Microsoft Power App taking 20-25 minutes to set up, Crisis Communications combines Microsoft Power Automate, Microsoft Teams and SharePoint. It lets companies coordinate information sharing and team collaboration under evolving conditions. Employees can report work status and make requests. System administrators can use the app to push updates and news including web-based really simple syndication (RSS) feeds from the World Health Organization (WHO), The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), local authorities or emergency contacts. The information can go to different locations that are accessible on the web, mobile or in Teams.
  • Power Virtual Agents Crisis Response Bot- The Power Virtual Agents team released instructions to build a Virtual Agent Crisis Response FAQ Bot. The no-code program helps staff get company-specific information they need quickly using a question and answer interface you can embed on your company website.

Power Apps Drives Business Transformation

A recent Forrester Consulting study shows how businesses reduced development costs and increased overall efficiency using Power Apps. Results are for a composite organization based on interviewed customers.

The Total Economic Impact of Power Apps study, March 2020 states:

  • 188% return on investment over three years
  • 74% reduction in app development costs
  • A savings of $4.9 million in application development and management cots
  • Replacing two external applications with a single Power App saved $742,449

Summary

No one knows how long the coronavirus crisis will last. Taking the time to plan how to function in these uncertain times is essential. Using software tools like the Microsoft Power Platform and its many apps will help companies continue to operate in rapidly changing conditions.

About XcelPros

XcelPros is a Chicago-based company delivering transformation through technology. We offer business and technology solutions with deep industry experience in Chemical, Pharma, Life Sciences (including Medical Devices, Bio-Medical & Biotech), Insurance, Discrete Manufacturing, Process Manufacturing, Distribution and Food & Beverage.

XcelPros is a Microsoft Gold Partner, Direct Cloud Solutions Provider (CSP) and a Systems Integrator (SI) offering software licensing, implementation and consulting services for Microsoft Dynamics 365, CRM, Microsoft Dynamics AX, Business Intelligence & Analytics (Power BI), SharePoint, Office 365 and Azure (Cloud, IOT, Microsoft Flow amongst many others).

Our mission is to provide integrated technology solutions that amplify impact and empower our customer’s businesses. We believe technology is the key enabler of exponential growth for us and our customers.

Contact XcelPros today to transform your business.

Call us toll-free – 1.855.411.0585 (or) visit www.xcelpros.com

Helping Your Company Fit into the Bioeconomy

Helping Your Company Fit into the Bioeconomy

Helping Your Company Fit into the Bioeconomy 1200 450 Xcelpros Team

Introduction

The term “bioeconomy” has begun gaining steam but many executives don’t know what it means or how it might affect their business.

Brain-biotech.com defines bioeconomy as producing renewable biological resources and then converting them plus waste streams into valued-added products. These include food, animal feed, bio-based products and energy, including fuels.

A related but different concept is the circular economy, “where the value of products, materials and resources is maintained in the economy for as long as possible, and the generation of waste minimized,” the article states.

Both concepts share the goals of increasing resource efficiency and lowering demand for new petroleum resources while creating more jobs. Tying into both of these is “cascading,” which promotes recycling and remanufacturing. An example of cascading is using fresh wood to build furniture. When the main product’s life ends, part or all of the wood is used for something else such as a different piece of furniture or a planter.

“The circular economy includes all kinds of material streams with different utilization routes. Organic recycling, which equals biodegradation, and even the capture and utilization of carbon dioxide from industrial processes or the atmosphere are included,” the report states.

One way the bioeconomy affects industry is by producing renewable carbon compared to fossil carbon such as oil and other fossil fuels. The bioeconomy and circular economy have a common goal: creating a more sustainable world with a low carbon footprint. Both avoid using fossil carbon. Using sustainable resources helps achieve climate targets, brain-biotech states.

Among the stated goals of the bioeconomy and the circular economy are:

  • Reducing the use of fossil fuels
  • Wiser management of natural resources
  • Continually reusing minerals, metals, and biomass from agriculture, forests and the seas
  • Creating biodegradable and compostable products
  • Generating ways to capture and reuse carbon dioxide in the Carbon Capture and Utilization (CCU) process
  • Reducing greenhouse gas emissions such as carbon dioxide (CO2)
  • Reducing waste, especially anything going into landfills
  • Promoting research across disciplines and borders
  • Creating more jobs in rural and urban environments

Impacts of the Bioeconomy on the Financial Economy

Features unique to the bioeconomy include creating new products and better utilization of agriculture and forestry, Brain-biotech states. Among its examples are using genome editing to create products with lower toxicity and new functions plus more nature-compatible (i.e., biodegradable) and healthier consumer goods.

So where can we see the bioeconomy? “The U.S. bioeconomy is all around us: new drugs and diagnostics for improved human health, higher-yielding food crops, emerging biofuels to reduce dependence on oil and biobased chemical intermediaries,” the 2012 White House’s National Bioeconomy Blueprint is quoted as saying in youmatter.world.

Youmatter.world connects the bioeconomy and circular economy by referring to the circular economy as “the what” as in what are desired outcomes. The bioeconomy is “the how” as in how biophysical processes can be enhanced to achieve the expected result.

Transforming the U.S. economy from one based on hydrocarbons (i.e., fossil fuels) to a bioeconomy, will have the most dramatic effects. These effects will be felt most strongly in the energy, agricultural, chemical, industrial and consumer products and transportation industries, attorney Neil Belson wrote in 2016.

Among Belson’s conclusions are, “an economy that runs primarily on renewable, domestically produced bio based raw materials is inherently less vulnerable to disruption than one which relies on or is heavily influenced by the availability of foreign fossil fuel energy supplies.”

Among the biofuel resources are corn stalks and wheat straw, animal manure, household and industrial organic wastes containing carbon and dedicated fast-growing energy crops.

Belson also suggests a major target of opportunity is the $164 billion U.S. organic chemical industry.

By the Numbers

After several years of declining revenue caused by low fossil fuel prices, the Organic Chemical Industry is expected to resume growing in 2021, reports from IBISWorld state. Among the highlights are:

  • 13.2%: The 2021 increase in market size estimated by the Organic Chemical Manufacturing Industry (OCMI).
  • $106 billion: The 2021 market size measured by revenue of the OCMI
  • 1,107: Number of organic chemical businesses in the US
  • 75,441: Number of people employed in the organic chemical businesses in the US

Current top products and related manufacturing activities are producing:

  • Ethyl alcohol
  • Cyclic crudes, coal tar, wood chemical and intermediate products
  • Basic organic chemical products
  • Fatty acids
  • Synthetic organic alcohols
  • Synthetic flavor and perfume materials
  • Bulk pesticides

This list does not include forestry-related materials such as major wood products.

According to the Government

The US Department of Agriculture released the 128-page “An Economic Impact Analysis of the U.S. Biobased Products Industry” in 2015.

Using 2013 numbers, the US Biobased Products Industry:

  • Contributed 4 million jobs
  • Added $369 billion to the U.S. economy
  • Created 1.64 more jobs for every 1 biobased products job
  • 20,000 products in the BioPreferred program database not including traditional textile fabrics or forest products. The true number is closer to 40,000, the report states.
  • 300 million gallons of petroleum replaced by biochemicals and natural-based products replacing petroleum products such as Styrofoam.

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Areas of Opportunity

Figure: 1Number of Installed Ethanol Biorefineries in the US

Number of Installed Ethanol biorefineries in the US

Statista states that in 2019, the US had more than 200 ethanol biorefineries. In 2015, the USDA listed 213 such refineries. Audi, BMW, Porsche and Volkswagen make diesel vehicles that can use biodiesel blends, edmunds.com states. As of 2014, most biofuel came from soybean oil. The US Department of Energy states that the B20 biodiesel blend contains 2% – 6% biodiesel mixed with petroleum fuel.

Adding biodiesel improves fuel lubricity making vehicles easier to start and reduces ignition delay. It also reduces premature wear on moving parts even in concentrations as low as 1%, the Alternative Fuels Data Center states.

Chemical and pharmaceutical companies, take note: Modor Intelligence estimates the market for biochemical reagents will grow at a CAGR rate of 9.1% between 2020 – 2025. This market is defined by products such as cell and tissue reagents, electrophoresis and others plus geography. Asia Pacific is the fastest growing market while North America is the largest.

Chromatography reagents have the greatest demand with their use in many pharmaceutical processes such as separating chemicals and biomolecules, diagnostics and protein purification.

Market Research Future’s report on the Global Bio-Based Chemicals Market states the top products between 2019 – 2025 will be bioplastics, bio-lubricants, bio-solvents, bio-based acids, bio-surfactants, bio-alcohols and others.

Let Technology Help

What chemical wastes currently costing the company money to be shipped to a landfill can be reused to boost profits? Companies using technology like Microsoft PowerBi and Microsoft Dynamics 365 to organize their data can organize waste into its core components. Some of it might be easily converted into biofuels. Others might be broken apart with components becoming biodegradable solvents.

Another way tech can help is by looking at existing customers in growing markets and suppliers in areas where key crops are grown. Are they ways to piggyback shipments and reduce transportation costs while also cutting air pollution? Microsoft Dynamics 365 Supply Chain Management can combine and crunch data. While helping a business run much more efficiently, it can also offer insights into new ways to use existing products.

The Bottom Line

The bioeconomy is here to stay, as is global warming. Companies entering bioeconomy markets should look at new ways to use plant-based materials to replace petroleum products,like the chemical and pharmaceutical industries using plant-based solvents to develop new medicines because they are less toxic and better for everyone in the long run.

Alternate fuels, fibers, chemicals made from plants and other biological sources are just a few of the many potential products whose demand will continue to rise.

Using cutting-edge enterprise resource planning software can help a company more accurately evaluate its own products and resources. Who knows, there just might be the materials to build some bioeconomy products already sitting on a warehouse shelf. With the right tech, you will know what you have.

About XcelPros

XcelPros is a Chicago-based company delivering transformation through technology. We offer business and technology solutions with deep industry experience in Chemical, Pharma, Life Sciences (including Medical Devices, Bio-Medical & Biotech), Insurance, Discrete Manufacturing, Process Manufacturing, Distribution and Food & Beverage.

XcelPros is a Microsoft Gold Partner, Direct Cloud Solutions Provider (CSP) and a Systems Integrator (SI) offering software licensing, implementation and consulting services for Microsoft Dynamics 365, CRM, Microsoft Dynamics AX, Business Intelligence & Analytics (Power BI), SharePoint, Office 365 and Azure (Cloud, IOT, Microsoft Flow amongst many others).

Our mission is to provide integrated technology solutions that amplify impact and empower our customer’s businesses. We believe technology is the key enabler of exponential growth for us and our customers.

Contact XcelPros today to transform your business.

Call us toll-free – 1.855.411.0585 (or) visit www.xcelpros.com

Pharmaceutical Analytics and Business Intelligence using Power BI

Pharmaceutical Analytics and Business Intelligence using Power BI

Pharmaceutical Analytics and Business Intelligence using Power BI 1920 1080 Xcelpros Team

Introduction

Modern pharmaceutical companies are undergoing a significant transformation with opportunities presented by digitization, big data, and analytics. Post COVID19, businesses are seeing an increased need for an agile enterprise Business Intelligence (BI) architecture to leverage these opportunities & seamlessly deliver business-critical insights to executives. Successful Pharmaceutical companies go beyond standard operational & statutory reports and are implementing more powerful Analytics and AI-driven solutions. These solutions provide actionable insights and useful performance indicators for efficient decision making. The more actionable your reporting is, the more empowered your team gets to enable the right engagement that ultimately drives results for your organization.

The strength of the analytics software comes with the agility of the tool to help users easily create quick insights, especially if you are an agile pharmaceutical manufacturing company. Creating reports in days instead of months frees up hundreds of hours in unnecessary spend to gather these hidden insights. This cost-saving allows business leaders to repurpose cost savings towards other operational improvements and growth. Pharmaceutical companies generate massive information every day through their day to day operations. But the data is not always being put to the right use. Some companies tend to look at reports with a traditional eye that doesn’t drive a ‘call to action’ to grow the business.

There is a right and wrong way of reporting – one provides overwhelming numbers, while the other means to understand those numbers and make them actionable.

Modern pharmaceutical companies are still undergoing a significant transformation with opportunities presented by digitization, big data, and analytics. Enterprises are seeing an increased need for an agile enterprise Business Intelligence (BI) architecture to leverage these opportunities & seamlessly deliver business-critical insights to executives.

The Strength of PowerBI

Power BI, a business analytics solution, lets you visualize your data and makes it accessible to your Organization. Insights can be easily shared through various platforms of your Organization by embedding them in your app, portals, or website, collaborating on Teams, and integrating them into your ERP or CRM applications. Microsoft’s Power BI makes it easy to combine these numbers from different sources, streamline analytics onto a single dashboard, act on newfound insights, and enhance visibility to other teams in your organization.

Leveraging the strength of PowerBI through interactive reports can be done through a few quick and easy steps:

  • Onboard
    • Access PowerBI either from portal.powerbi.com or any of the Microsoft ERP/ CRM applications.
    • Connect to your data wherever it lives.
    • Explore your data with interactive visuals.
  • Collaborate & Share
    • Publish reports and dashboards.
    • Collaborate with your team.
    • Share insights inside and outside of your Organization.
  • Access insights from anywhere
    • Act with seamless access to data insights from your desk or home.
    • Access on the go with Power BI visual reports built rapidly.

Turning Industry Data into Smart Decisions

Leading Pharmaceutical companies who are transforming into agile organizations need 360-degree insights for business-critical functions such as manufacturing execution, sales productivity, financial management, purchasing raw materials from approved suppliers, quality assurance & quality control.

New age pharmaceutical organizations collaborate, monitor, and communicate on available live data to achieve operational excellence. Pharmaceutical business intelligence enables these organizations to monitor real-time data from multiple sources and combine them into one pharmaceutical dashboard with the ability to drill-down into the report to identify issues, as necessary.

Figure 1: Pharmaceutical Analysis using Power BI

Usage in the Pharmaceutical Industry

01.Interactive Reports

Power BI is an analytics software that brings to the table a strong background in delivering end-to-end BI analytics to modern Pharmaceutical companies such as

  • Efficiency Reports On Lot Production
  • Trending And Analysis Of Quality Control Data
  • Recommendations Based Clinical Trial Reporting
  • And Financials Per Batch Produced For Each Product
  • Product Go to market assessments (how much spend and types of activity is involved, expected and actual results)

02. KPI Reporting

Accurate decision making occurs when reporting provides clarity on both good and bad data points on prime KPIs. With business analytics in the pharmaceutical industry, companies can acquire intelligence in real time and can track key performance indicators such as

  • Machine utilization
  • Process efficiency
  • Cost of Sales
  • Inventory levels
  • Batch Losses and cycle times
  • Quality standards of a product line
  • Customer engagement and customer experience

03.Real-Time Analytics

One of the essential requirements of agile Pharmaceutical companies is to have real-time analytics of overall operations as they occur, to make quick corrections, and proactively handle situations before they turn into risks. Especially for manufacturing execution and inventory management, knowing the work is progressing and inventory is turning around helps production supervisors to manage batch production processes much faster and make on the fly corrections. This type of real-time reporting on big screens in a production plant gives that needed visibility to both the manager as well as the operator to be alerted and aware of any green, yellow or red batch processing.

Figure 2:Real-Time Data Tracking with Power BI

Why PowerBI?

Few benefits of PowerBI that is enabling a business to lead to improvements are as follows:

  1. 1. This information gives the ability to make changes in the process based on how well resources are functioning to increase productivity, and how each product lot produced is performing in the market.
  2. 2. Getting real-time alerts with Power BI mobile apps makes your operations more efficient, allowing you to achieve a higher level of organizational agility and minimize response times.
  3. 3. Power BI enables monitoring of your supply chain end-to-end, letting you identify problems and potential bottlenecks before they can affect critical processes.
  4. 4. Monitoring quality inputs and outputs from all sources, including your customers, allows you to make quick and meaningful decisions that will improve the quality of batches that are manufactured.
  5. 5. The ability to share your dashboards with suppliers and partners is a plus and accommodates adjustments to the latest information available to work towards making your processes leaner and smarter.
  6. 6. Microsoft’s Power BI is a full-featured, must-have BI solution that offers a lot of micro benefits to many different organizations on their path to success such as –
    • Global Scale – Local Speed
    • Agile Business Processes
    • Predictive Analytics
    • Machine-to-Machine
    • Employee Onboarding

Some basic analytics used by Pharma companies are as follows:

  • Products & Inventory
    • Full Track & Trace Functionality
    • Enhanced Global Marketability
    • Customer Requirements
    • Product Quality
    • Product Recalls
  • Sales
    • Quotes & Order analysis
    • Pricing and Cost reporting
    • Available-to-Promise reporting
    • Order Profitability
  • Supply Chain
    • Match demand and supply
    • Improved Supply Chain Responsiveness
    • Updated and efficient Logistic analysis
  • Financial
    • Product Profitability reports
    • Batch costs
    • A full audit of transactions
  • Manufacturing
    • Safety and sustainability analysis
    • Realtime production data reports
    • Equipment failure predictions
    • Production rescheduling

Closing

The first and foremost step for change comes from enhancing visibility in operations be it in manufacturing execution, sales force productivity, procurement, or financials. From the moment you start considering a BI solution for your growing Pharmaceutical company, the benefits of Microsoft’s Power BI become evident very quickly. Power BI brings to table a strong background in delivering end-to-end BI services to modern Pharmaceutical companies – covering BI strategy, managed services, implementation & support. Microsoft’s Power BI will continue to be a must-have product for leading Pharmaceutical companies by delivering 360-degree insights for business-critical functions such as sales, finance, procurement, and more.

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About XcelPros

XcelPros is a Chicago-based company delivering transformation through technology. We offer business and technology solutions with deep industry experience in Chemical, Pharma, Life Sciences (including Medical Devices, Bio-Medical & Biotech), Insurance, Discrete Manufacturing, Process Manufacturing, Distribution and Food & Beverage.

XcelPros is a Microsoft Gold Partner, Direct Cloud Solutions Provider (CSP) and a Systems Integrator (SI) offering software licensing, implementation and consulting services for Microsoft Dynamics 365, CRM, Microsoft Dynamics AX, Business Intelligence & Analytics (Power BI), SharePoint, Office 365 and Azure (Cloud, IOT, Microsoft Flow amongst many others).

Our mission is to provide integrated technology solutions that amplify impact and empower our customer’s businesses. We believe technology is the key enabler of exponential growth for us and our customers.

Contact XcelPros today to transform your business.

Call us toll-free – 1.855.411.0585 (or) visit www.xcelpros.com