Posts

3 Elements of a successful fleet management system

MiningIQ recently published an article looking at how to make mining operations more efficient. As a more competitive market opens up and there is an increase in compliance and external forces (exchange rate, supply, demand, labour costs, etc.) these businesses are required to maximise productivity at a minimum operating cost all in order to increase profitability.

They found that one of the key business processes that large mining operations can deliver on is their fleet management. MiningIQ discovered that companies such as Glencore, BHP and ADG Mining are all rethinking their approach to fleet management and looking at the smarter way to improve their efficiency and bottom line.

Effective Maintenance Management

MiningiQ stated that Glencore is at the forefront of implementing optimisation into their maintenance management system. Their fleet is made up of millions of dollars’ worth of equipment and their loader rebuilds cost upwards of 1 million dollars.

Through the use of maintenance management optimisation they were able to save; in one circumstance 390,000 dollars.

Truck Haulage Continuous Improvement

They went on to say that Peter Knights, Chair of BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance has even gone beyond using optimisation within the maintenance of his vehicle fleet. He has done this by looking at the most economical way to run his vehicles; through energy and fuel they were able to improve efficiency.

Streamlining The Communications system

MiningIQ’s report found that power, communications, GPS and general infrastructure were key barriers to business efficiencies.

Adam Gray, specialist consultant, mining systems at ADGMining said

“The improvements in truck utilisation were astounding –we’re talking in the realms of more than three per cent, which is a massive figure at the end of an NPV,”

In a lot of cases streamlining the communication systems is as simple as moving off basic excel based programs that don’t allow you to perform specific tasks.

How can I achieve these sort of savings with my fleet?

Biarri is an Australian owned and operated company that was established in 2008. We have worked in many industries but have proven capabilities within Rail, Mining and Oil and Gas. Working with companies such as Rio Tinto, QLD Cotton, Arrow Energy, Origin Energy and Boral (to name a few) and have been able to work across a range of not only Fleet Management problems but; FIFO scheduling, Manpower Planning, Vehicle Routing, Rolling Stock Operational Management, Vessel Load optimisation, and many more.

Biarri builds custom software for you, with you over the cloud. Using the power of mathematics we can provide you with accessible optimisation that anyone in your business can use.

If you want to find out more about how we can help you, Contact us!

Health Analytics

Analytics, just what the doctor ordered

Can Analytics and Optimisation be ‘Just what the Doctor ordered’ for struggling Australian Hospitals and Health Services?

In Australia consumers have more access to information than ever before and are demanding increasing accountability from their doctors, nurses health plans and, better health care quality. The Hospital and Health Services (HHS) industry despite struggling under the weight of an ageing population, a shortage in doctors and nurses, increased regulation, accountability, governance and budgetary oversight, are continually required to provide more with less.

The healthcare industry requires smarter, more informed decisions to enable improved efficiency, better service delivery and enhanced patient outcomes.

Research in 2012 by IBM into the Healthcare Industry in the US confirmed mounting evidence of entrenched inefficiencies and sub-optimal clinical outcomes. The report highlighted how building an analytics focus can help these Health organisations harness “big data” to create actionable insights, set their future vision, improve outcomes and reduce time to value.

The authors note that the abundance of data that bombards healthcare professionals both facilitates and complicates the ability of healthcare providers to achieve and influence desirable outcomes. It appears clear that entrenched systemic inefficiencies in the health systems are at least in part attributed to the ineffective gathering, sharing and use of information

The glut of information makes it hard to differentiate data which can be used to generate powerful insights, from clutter. In fact, the dilemma presented by too much data and too little insight – is cited in the research as an increasingly daunting obstacle standing in the way of better service delivery and improved patient outcomes.

The daunting challenges facing the healthcare industry today make for compelling arguments to expand the role of analytics

The study confirmed that analytics can provide the mechanism to sort through this mountain of complexity and data, and help healthcare organizations deliver on efficiency improvements and better patient outcomes. In Australia the introduction of Activity Based Funding (ABF) has promoted the use of data as the essential input informing critical decisions by Managers, Administrators and Clinicians. Not surprisingly HHS are increasingly looking to move from data processing to data analysis and applying insights to financial outcomes. Australian HHS are just starting to recognise how the power of mathematics through analytics and optimisation can be utilised to consume, unlock and apply new insights from information.

Analytics can provide the mechanism to sort through this mountain of complexity and data

Despite the availability of new methods of analytics that can be used to drive clinical and operational improvements, Australian HHS continue to function with a traditional baseline of transaction monitoring using basic reporting tools, spreadsheets and application reporting. As in the US Health system Australian HHS must face-up to the challenge to move from the traditional model to one that incorporates predictive analytics and enables organizations to “see the future,” and create more personalised healthcare and predict patient behavior.

Advanced analytics and optimisation approaches can take full advantage of the ‘Data deluge’ to generate powerful insights which deliver better outcomes

Today, most HHS use some form of descriptive analytics. They are typically using reporting tools and applications descriptively to understand what has happened in the past and to classify and categorize historical data. However, as their analytics expectations mature, HHS are looking more toward predictive analytics techniques, which take an understanding of the past to predict future activities and model scenarios using simulation and forecasting. The report notes that Enterprise analytics, evidence-based medicine and clinical outcome analytics can all be supported by these more advanced capabilities. For example, analytics can enable the compilation of information about trends, patterns, deviations, anomalies and relationships and reveal key insights.Biarri Optimisation Software Banner

Some Hospital and Health Services are taking a proactive approach

Gold Coast University Hospital (GCUH) is one example of an Australian HHS organisation leading the way by embracing predictive analytics to improve demand for better service delivery and enhanced patient outcomes. Most recently Biarri Optimisation worked with GCUH to enhance their understanding of expected future demand and to develop insight into opportunities to better allocate resources. Through the application of customised predictive analytics and optimisation GCUH improved their knowledge of forecasted demands for the next Financial Year, allowing improved capacity planning requirements for physical resources and staffing resources equating to better workforce optimisation.

Biarri and GCUH demonstrated the value of quantitative analysis in forecasting patient admissions and QWAUs and used this to provide more efficient capacity and resource planning.

For most organisations today, data visualisation, historic trend analysis and forecasting, and standardized reporting are the analytics elements that provide the most value. However, that is likely to change. The research showed that while data visualisation will always be a critical element, increased emphasis will be placed on simulations and scenario development and analytics that are applied within various business processes.

Biarri Commercial Mathematics

To learn more about how Biarri can help your HHS organisation benefit from advanced analytics and optimisation go to www.biarri.com or contact

Sam Rowse: Email: sam.rowse@biarri.com, Mobile: +61 458 004 220

Biarri diagnosing Hospital and Health Services

A major part to the national health reform act 2011, was the implementation of national activity based funding (ABF) for Australian Public Hospitals. The model provides incentives to hospitals showing initiative and leadership in transparency in the delivery and funding of Hospital and Health Services across Australia.

The problem that many hospitals are now facing is that they use a limited form of descriptive analytics. Hospitals are typically using tools that aggregate and classify historical data however lack the rigor and skillset to predict future demand, trends or patterns.

The Gold Coast University Hospital approached Biarri to assist in forecasting demand for the next financial year. Being under external and internal pressure with new government rules and regulation around ABF, it was imperative that they could properly determine future demand and act on any issues or opportunities.

To optimise their capacity planning efforts, Biarri has developed a tool that allows GCUH understand their data through the application of customised predictive analytics and optimisation through our cloud based platform – Biarri Workbench.

If you feel as though Biarri could help you, feel free to get in touch

Tom Forbes, Chief Executive officer
E: tom.forbes@biarri.com PH: 0408 703 436
Sam Rowse, Chief Sales Officer
E: sam.rowse@biarri.com ph: 0458 004 220

Aviation

A new standard in the commercial air cargo market

How CLIVE is helping DHL set a new standard in the commercial air cargo market.

Given the complexity inherent in global airfreight booking and allocation systems the notion that Microsoft Excel is widely used as the default decision making support tool is nothing short of surprising. However this was the case when DHL engaged CLIVE with an objective of finding a better way to manage their global network.

The current December issue of Airline Cargo Management titled ‘When DHL met CLIVE’ discusses the leap forward taken by DHL from a reliance on an excel based tool to implementing advanced technology through CLIVE’s customised software-as-a- service (SAAS) application.

CLIVE worked with a unit of DHL Aviation, Air Capacity Sales (ACS), which sells the airline’s spare capacity to forwarders, to help smooth-out the imbalances that typically occur within major cargo airlines. In the article, Paul Ennis, managing director of ACS, had previously used excel and found; “The accuracy of the information was inadequate and there was no real-time visibility on capacity allocation, especially taking into account that DHL Aviation has such a complex network.”

“It’s an amazing leap forward” – Ennis

Ennis goes on to explain that his customers tend to want fixed or agreed allocations on various sectors. “We have lots of demand for pre-allocated capacity. We didn’t have a system before – we used an Excel sheet to manage allocations, so we were interested in CLIVE. It’s an amazing leap forward.”

CLIVE’s software services combine in-depth knowledge of the air cargo industry with an intuitive user experience

Commercial decision making in air cargo is complex and made even more so when confronted with volatile markets, fragmented processes, legacy technology and scattered information. The article quotes CLIVE’s tagline, which is ‘bringing humanised technology to the air cargo domain’. It is the company’s conviction that order and simplicity are the best response to the complexity surrounding commercial decision-making in air cargo.

To support three key management processes; allocation, demand forecasting and operations, CLIVE built separate applications for distinct processes; which allowed DHL to present its clients only with the information they need, keeping the applications clutter free.

The new insights provided by this service allowed DHL to generate additional value from their global air cargo network.

In the article Ennis confirmed that CLIVE gives ACS more accuracy and efficiency across the global network. “Running a network involves multiple sectors which we can put in a single view, allowing us to tell the customer immediately what the options are. If they require capacity we can give an instantaneous answer. The real benefits are for the customer. It’s much more accurate, clean and neat,” Ennis said.

“CLIVE gives ACS more accuracy and efficiency across the global network” – Ennis

One unexpected benefit was the way it affected the team, he adds. “People feel more empowered to engage with customers as we have a clearer view of what is going on. You never get a second chance to fill an aircraft, and now we can talk facts and figures with customers. “We learned things – it forced us to go into more detail, made us look at our business more closely.”

About CLIVE

CLIVE provides humanized technology to the air cargo industry. Commercial decision making in air cargo is complex and CLIVE’s goal is to add order to this complexity by developing easy to use, customised applications from scratch, making practical use of highly advanced mathematics.

CLIVE is part of the Biarri Group of Companies (Biarri Optimisation, Biarri Networks, and Render Networks), that work to provide accessible optimisation to all businesses.

Meat Processing Optimisation

Applying Mathematics to Meat Processing

Biarri has developed unique cloud-based meat processing software that has been released in Australia for use by companies within the meat industry to optimise production, reduce waste and boost revenue.

One of the world’s largest processors and exporters of lamb and mutton, Alliance Group, approached Biarri in 2013 to develop a new meat processing technology for exclusive use by the group to boost business operations in New Zealand.

The technology was able to help Alliance make significant savings in operating costs by using a software model to maximise their products and revenue yields. The technology has been customised for use within the Australian meat processing industry and can be modified to accommodate a diverse range of requirements including both Beef and Lamb.

The software uses highly complex mathematical algorithms to improve decision making. The software enables meat processors to make important operational decisions quickly, ensuring all critical variables are considered for each production run. Using data and quantitative analysis removes ambiguity and improves speed and accuracy.

Despite its importance, key operational decision making is often based on gut-feel and subjectivity. The Meat Processing Optimiser (MPO) software determines the best cut strategy that maximises carcass yield according to the meat processors inputs and the highly efficient algorithms do the work in seconds; ensuring operational decisions are consistent and optimised every time. Decisions are more likely to be correct and the process has more rigor due to the application of the scientific method.

The Meat industry has in recent times faced very challenging operating conditions. An anticipated reduction of available livestock for slaughtering due to drought, rebuilding the national herd and the continued build-up of the live trade, will negatively impact profits and result in a tightening of budgets. Biarri believe their new technology can help boost the bottom line for processors regardless of production volumes or revenues and thereby contribute to the competitiveness of the whole value chain.

Tom Forbes, Biarri CEO said, “We are excited to offer our unique technology to the Australian market, and are confident, after seeing Alliance Group’s results, that the MPO will benefit operators by reducing costs and increasing revenue within the Australian meat processing industry.”

“Biarri is an IT company committed to unlocking the power of mathematics for all businesses to benefit operations. While the meat processing industry is not generally associated with business analytics, quantitative models and optimisation tools, the MPO is set to change operational decision making within the industry.”

“Meat processing in Australia is big business, with Australian’s consuming on average 46.5 kilograms of red meat each year, we decided there was definitely a requirement to develop a specific technology to streamline processes within the meat processing industry to maximise yields, boost revenue and reduce waste wherever possible.”

Head over to the Meat Processing Optimiser page for more information

Dynamic scheduling in the face of uncertainty

Many businesses operate in uncertain environments, at the mercy of breakdowns, human error, traffic or the weather. The traditional approach is to build slack into a schedule, to survive some expected level of uncertainty, and then to hope this schedule can be executed in spite of whatever unforeseen events actually occur. In instances where the schedule cannot be implemented as expected, operational decisions are made to try to meet the business goals as much as possible. Under complexity and time pressure, decision makers must often resort to making short term, locally focused decisions without the time or tools to consider implications downstream.

In this blog post, optimisation consultant Dave Scerri describes how recent algorithmic advances and smart tools have enabled the best of both worlds: an operational scheduling approach that responds to changing circumstances while focusing on system wide efficiency.

Dealing with operational uncertainty is one of the biggest challenges facing many businesses today. The most well thought out plans and schedules rarely survive contact with the real world, and the consequences are often a loss of productivity and overall efficiency. Businesses should be endeavouring to make the best decision at any point in time given the current circumstances and the best information available to them. Operational scheduling, when done right, can allow businesses to make quality, timely decisions, maximising their productivity in the face of uncertainty.

The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry

– Robert Burns

Our philosophy is to make the power of mathematics accessible. Why? Because we think it isn’t currently very accessible, this limits the number of people who can use it to get value and reduces the value derived by those who do use it, and that’s a crying shame in a world that desperately needs efficiency. We have all seen it multiple times in multiple organisations. It’s the hard to use (probably ugly), not really fit for purpose (lots of workarounds), complicated IT (n tier, client/server, VM, Citrix, Oracle thing) approach to providing optimisation software.

COTS vs Bespoke

COTS (commercial off the shelf) puts the bars around accessible Mathematics: leads to crying babies

Our philosophy is to make the power of mathematics accessible. Why? Because we think it isn’t currently very accessible, this limits the number of people who can use it to get value and reduces the value derived by those who do use it, and that’s a crying shame in a world that desperately needs efficiency.

We have all seen it multiple times in multiple organisations. It’s the hard to use (probably ugly), not really fit for purpose (lots of workarounds), complicated IT (n tier, client/server, VM, Citrix, Oracle thing) approach to providing optimisation software.

So how did it come into being? Here’s how I see it:

“I’m unique; give me your shrink wrapped product!” – and other amusing procurement stories

Let’s assume requirements are done, I’ll save organisational scope bloat for another time. The next question is build or buy? How will we best get something that is a close match to need/requirements?

So a market search ensues only to discover that the requirements are pretty unique. So a custom/bespoke solution is required! That makes sense but most organisations quickly discover that bespoke = expensive (time and money), just like buying a tailor made suit is more expensive than buying off the rack.

It’s for this reason that hard core mathematics/optimisation solutions have mainly been consumed by capital intensive industries where spending a few million to save tens or hundreds of millions made the business case stack up.

Therefore organisations often seek a COTS (Commercial Off The Shelf) solution (often after an expensive run in with a bespoke approach), with the expectation that if they specify what they need and buy something “off the shelf” that fits then it should be low risk (time and money). It appears to be quite an entrenched view with Australian CIOs, and in some cases is justified, particularly in back office functions that don’t offer opportunity for differentiation. A point Wesfarmers Insurance CIO David Hackshall and DoD CIO Peter Lawrence make in an article by Brian Corrigan on itnews.com.au titled “How COTS became Australia’s default software setting”.

In the world of mathematics, optimisation and advanced planning and scheduling it would be a very rare occasion with a simple set of generic requirements where COTS really worked. Take one of the classical problems where mathematics are applied, vehicle routing. This is a well picked over area and sounds simple enough. Nonetheless, vendors fill niches within this niche in order to provide a match to requirements. As the Vehicle Routing survey in February 2014 issue OR/MS Today says “VR customers are different, and so are their routing needs and problems, which require flexible, innovative answers”.

Vendors react to this COTS centric procurement environment in a predictable way, and of course say they sell COTS because otherwise when they get evaluated on the inevitable RFX criteria they would fail miserably. The solution? They will (and I’ve been there) include “configuration” or “installation services” as ways to mask software development. The result? You get something that wasn’t a great fit with lots of add on development to meet your requirements. It’s hard to use, slow and doesn’t really provide the solutions you were hoping for. In many cases you end up with the worst of both worlds, the cost of bespoke but the poor fit of COTS.

As the aforementioned itnews.com.au article says “The middle ground between buying readymade software and building bespoke solutions is to customise a COTS package. Yet as many CIOs have discovered at great cost to their budgets and mental health, this can be a painful experience.”

This COTS/bespoke paradox is the problem we saw and it is what we aim to address. So what does Biarri do differently? We take the benefits of bespoke and make it cheaply and quickly. You could say we aim to provide the best of both worlds.

Do the math

How do we do it? First of all, we do the maths first! Prove you can solve the underlying problem and that’s it is worth solving before investing in the delivery mechanism. Once you know there is value in the maths, make sure people can digest it via a well-designed solution. The Biarri Workbench is our SaaS platform that allows us to very quickly develop easy to use, custom applications with unique workflows with an iterative/agile and light deployment.

Who says B2C owns good UX?

Easy to use means designed with the user in mind. In the consumer world (B2C) this is the natural order of things (thanks Apple). In the business world (B2B) this has taken a back seat, and that’s where our industrial designers come in. Working with users to really understand how they do their job and will interact with the system. Producing mock-ups/concepts and getting early feedback before a line of code is written.

So now we’ve proven the maths will provide value and designed a solution that users will love to use.

Mock up example

Our philosophy is to make the power of mathematics accessible. Why? Because we think it isn’t currently very accessible, this limits the number of people who can use it to get value and reduces the value derived by those who do use it, and that’s a crying shame in a world that desperately needs efficiency. We have all seen it multiple times in multiple organisations. It’s the hard to use (probably ugly), not really fit for purpose (lots of workarounds), complicated IT (n tier, client/server, VM, Citrix, Oracle thing) approach to providing optimisation software.

Rinse and Repeat

What comes next is turning this into reality quickly, cheaply and iteratively. Quickly and cheaply are thanks to the Biarri Workbench providing security, common database, existing UI components, libraries and widgets that enable a custom built application to be constructed very quickly. And “iteratively” is thanks to being web delivered which means we can provide early access to users to start providing feedback. Agile development takes on real meaning as users see the mock-ups they helped design come alive in their web browser mere weeks (or even just days) after designing them. Engagement and user buy-in are huge as feedback is provided, incorporated and delivered instantly. Australia Posts CIO Andrew Walduck understands this approach, “The number of times I’ve seen operating models where you start with requirements on one side, you dump it into operations on the other, and it fundamentally misses the point”.

Tool UI Example

Example of tool UI

It takes different strokes to move the world… yes it does

Do you remember the late 70’s early 80’s TV series “Different Strokes”? I use to love the theme song.

Everybody’s got a special kind of story
Everybody finds a way to shine,
It don’t matter that you got not alot
So what,
They’ll have theirs, and you’ll have yours, and I’ll have mine.
And together we’ll be fine….

When you start looking for your next optimisation, analytics or advanced planning and scheduling solution and your CIO/CFO says “budgets are tight and you can’t buy bespoke, you have to go COTS”, remember “it don’t matter that you got not a lot… you’ll have yours” because Biarri has a special kind of story.

Portfolio Items