UK’s Largest Salt Specialist Embarks Upon Journey to the Cloud with Percipient and Oracle.
About Compass Minerals
Compass Minerals (UK) (Compass) is the largest rock salt provider in the UK. Mining and operating out of Winsford, Cheshire, Compass provides a number of salt products and services to local authorities and private contractors, all with the aim of keeping road networks clear of snow and ice.
200 million years ago, Cheshire was located beneath the seabed of a huge ocean and as these oceans evaporated, gigantic deposits of salt were left behind.
Today, Compass Minerals extracts this rock salt from 150 metres underground, crushes it to pre-defined sizes and adds products where required, elevates it to the surface and stock piles around half a million tonnes to support its customers.
Compass typically processes around 1 million tonnes of salt each year, but this can rise substantially depending on the severity of Winter conditions. In 2018, as a result of the Beast from the East, 1.4 million tonnes were processed, the equivalent to 50,000 articulated lorries.
Time for a Refresh
The same year saw Compass Minerals embark upon a modernisation programme. As austerity cuts have continued to impact local authorities, Compass has seen significant change in the way in which its customers place orders. Lead times have typically become shorter, resulting in a need to store greater volumes of salt, and increased volatility and risk have converged to create tougher market conditions. At the same time, increased demand for value-add services have opened up new revenue opportunities.
Driven by a need to address these challenges and stay at the forefront of its industry, Compass required new digital capabilities. As part of this, the rock salt provider was keen to exploit the benefits of moving its systems to the Cloud in order to future proof its IT strategy and ensure scalability, flexibility and a reduced IT footprint.
The way in which Oracle BIC visually represents this data really brings crucial analysis to end users at the click of a button, in an easy to understand format. Through having a clear, live picture of our own performance against market trends and activity, we really can make the best decisions. In fact, such is the power of the Cloud solution that despite having around 10 million records, we can do in seconds what would have previously taken us days.
To the Cloud
Having worked closely with business software consultancy Percipient for 15 years, Compass had complete confidence in enlisting their help to source the right system for the modernisation project. Following a thorough evaluation and selection process in conjunction with the team at Percipient, Compass Minerals selected Oracle’s Business Intelligence in the Cloud (BIC), part of Oracle’s Data Analytics solution, as its first step towards a wholesale shift to the Cloud.
“Many organisations can be reticent about moving to the Cloud, with time and cost often perceived as barriers,” comments Chris Stock, Managing Director, Percipient. “However, through breaking it down into small steps and prioritising low risk, high value areas of a business, we are able to take incremental steps and deliver business benefits along the way. In turn this helps to establish a business case for future projects and facilitates confidence in the overall concept.”
Power to the People
Deployed in 2018 for 65 users, Oracle BIC provides powerful reporting and analytics across order management; customer service; sales; pricing and tenders; contract management; haulage and stock management at Compass, with other areas to follow.
Mark Goodwin, IT Manager at Compass Minerals UK explains: “Throughout the project, Percipient went above and beyond our expectations. Right from the outset, they asked an inordinate amount of questions on the specific goals of our modernisation programme, and demonstrated immense tenacity to get to the crux of what we actually needed, rather than what we thought we might need (a subtle but very important distinction). This approach meant that we had complete faith in their ability to make the right decisions and scope out the right Cloud roadmap.
“Having made the decision to deploy Oracle BIC as our first Cloud solution, our selection they embraced the project wholeheartedly and worked tirelessly to meet our timescales, which is pretty rare in this industry. Their diligence and integrity resulted in a smooth deployment and ensured that the entire project team was on the same page.”
Crystal Clear Insights
Through providing greater visibility and insights on all areas of the business, Oracle BIC enhances Compass’ ability to provide services to its customers. For example, through closely monitoring a council or highway agency’s salt stock levels, Compass is able to advise them when they might need to replenish, or if particularly bad weather is forecast, such as the Winter we saw in 2017/2018, they can flag and prompt action. And through being able to closely track performance and trends in order to better forecast and predict, more meaningful range-based predictions rather than standard, seasonal ones, Compass is able to meet customer needs more efficiently.
Mark continues: “The way in which Oracle BIC visually represents this data really brings crucial analysis to end users at the click of a button, in an easy to understand format. Through having a clear, live picture of our own performance against market trends and activity, we really can make the best decisions. In fact, such is the power of the Cloud solution that despite having around 10 million records, we can do in seconds what would have previously taken us days.”
A Clear Road Ahead
“The success of our first Cloud project has given us the reassurance and confidence that it is the right strategy, and we are already in discussions with Percipient about our next move.
“We plan to upgrade our existing Oracle BIC to Oracle Analytics Cloud, which has machine learning Artificial Intelligence (AI) built in to add greater depth to the insights, and allow us to see the visualised data in nanoseconds rather than seconds. Mobility is also a key benefit as when users log-in from a mobile device, the system will pinpoint their location to provide relevant insights, visually, something which can be difficult to achieve with legacy on premise systems.
“As we look to other areas of the business, we are considering moving our existing Oracle E-Business Suite to the Cloud via Oracle’s Bring Your Own Licence application. This would involve moving our current ERP environment (hardware and software) to Oracle’s cloud, rather than deploying a completely new product. The advantage of this approach is that we would gain all of the benefits of the Cloud without the cost and resource required to install from scratch, and would represent an interim step to a wholesale move to the Cloud as the ultimate goal.
“Another area where Compass sees value is switching to Oracle’s Identity Cloud Services to provide Single Sign On capabilities for users who use both the E-Business Suite and BIC systems.
“Ultimately our first steps into the Cloud via Oracle BIC have provided us with the ability to forecast and predict more accurately, make faster decisions and explore new opportunities. Along with having the kind of systems which set us aside as an innovator and employer of choice, this really is crucial to our growth strategy,” Mark Goodwin, Compass, concludes.
“The speed and insight generated by the solution, and the support we receive from Percipient, will enable Compass to move forward into our next Cloud phase with confidence and we look forward to embracing new challenges and opportunities as they emerge.”
For more information about Percipient or how we can help your business with our Oracle solutions, get in touch or call us on 01606 871332.