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Management Information in Manufacturing

Monitoring product integrity & traceability in the Fast Moving Consumer Goods

British American Tobacco  is one of the biggest tobacco companies in the world.The plant in Zevenaar, the Netherlands, is a major manufacturing plant in Europe. Key focus points of the manufacturing plant are quality, efficiency and delivery performance. The implementation of a nearly real time manufacturing data warehouse, together with a state of the art query and report tool gives British American Tobacco Manufacturing a excellent position in management information delivery, ready for future quality and traceability regulations.

 By: Zéger P.L. Nieuweboer(1)


Business Need

For both legal and quality reasons product integrity & traceability is a major issue in the tobacco industry. Within British American Tobacco, a global programme is initiated to achieve severe improvements in product integrity & traceability. A major project was launched in Zevenaar to deliver more information functionality for Material, Production and Quality Control to the Packaging Manufacturing Department (Secondary). An important business requirement for the Secondary Information System (SecIS) was to signal non conformities by comparing delivered production materials with the bill of materials from the SAP ERP system. A second business requirement was tot deliver management information for the managers in manufacturing. Production management wanted one set of definitions for both operational and management information  to avoid discussion about the information truth. The need for improving management information resulted in the SecIS management information project.



The major decision for the setup of management information was to use a separate reporting database based upon the following reasons:

  • to avoid a performance drop in the regular functions with heavy reporting queries
  • to make differences in aggregation levels and record life time
  • to make reports from multiple database sources, e.g. traceability reports

The reporting database, or manufacturing data warehouse, consists of standard components, based upon BAT best practice. These components are Oracle 9.1i for the database, Oracle Warehouse Builder for the ETL tool, Business Objects 6.1 for query and reporting tool and MS Internet Information Server as a web server. The data transport time between the transactional database and the data warehouse must be short to use the manufacturing data warehouse also for operational users. Oracle Streams is therefore selected as a communication tool. Oracle Streams sends every transaction from the source database to the manufacturing data warehouse. The data exchange with the SAP ERP system is based upon XML messages in accordance with the ISA-95 standards. The project was considered as a pilot project because of the combination of proofed and new technology, like Oracle streams. The architecture of the management information system in the manufacturing environment of Zevenaar is shown in figure 1.

Fig 1: Architecture of the management information system


Users roles

Users have different information demands depending upon their roles in the business. The information tools are therefore related to these user roles in the factory.

  • The management gets periodically standard reports, or reports upon request, to monitor business processes also regarding legal aspects.
  • The power users are using MS-Excel for analyzing tasks. Once the analyzing gets a more permanent character, a Business Objects report is made. Also reports are made /changed based upon request from operational users or management. The power users are gaining up experience with Business Objects and are transferring their knowledge to other users.
  • The operational users use the standard shop floor application for standards overviews. They use the tool Business Objects for standard reports.

Also the aggregation of information per user role is different. Different dimensions are defined in the manufacturing data warehouse like organization, time and equipment. For each dimension a hierarchy is defined. For example for the dimension organization the hierarchy is: Company, department, group, team, crew, person.


Product Integrity & Traceability

The Manufacturing Execution System SECIS is connected to all 40 production & packaging lines of BAT Manufacturing. Since 2004 the manufacturing data warehouse is live together with the web based information tool Business Objects.

The module Material Control is the main module regarding product integrity & traceability. All critical materials are delivered by the supplier with a barcode per package quantity. The manufacturing bill of material of the production run is downloaded from the ERP system into SecIS Material Control module. With the usage of materials the barcode of the package quantity is scanned and compared with the materials of the bill of material. The SecIS system alerts the operator about possible non conformities.

Part of the standard management report is the top 10 of possible non-conformities. Based upon this management information decisions are taken for measures to avoid the risk for non conformities.

Per production line an information spot for operational users is available. At this place the operators can use the standard application SecIS and run the Business Objects reports. The management users have access to Business Object by their own desk top computers.


Learning points

The project proved, it is a big challenge to manage leading technology. BAT Manufacturing is one of the first users of Oracle Streams and it also encounters the first non conformities in this product. Also the knowledge of the implementation partner was just growing during the project. For a long period the integrity of the content of the Manufacturing Data Warehouse couldn’t be guaranteed. Step by step the quality of the data has improved. In the future architecture discussions there must be more focus at the balance between requirements and complexity and risks of selected tools.

It is a difficult process to translate the information needs of users into a well fit management reports. At first the users are not trained to define the requirements and often only by prototyping one can find out what the real needs are. In practice, people started to think about decision making once they see a newly generated report The experience is that 80 % of the project delivery time is dedicated to enquiring and fine tuning the report with the customer.

The information analyst, which is doing the translation work, must ultimately have knowledge of the management decision process, the information tool Business Objects and the structure of the Manufacturing Data Warehouse and also the structure of the ERP system. Such a “sheep with five legs” is hard to find. It will be clear that training both information analyst and information users are essential for good management reports to improve decision making.



The introduction of a new management information tool is a major step in information supply. The architecture of the nearly real time data warehouse makes it possible to fulfill both  information demands from management as well as from operational users. The example of product integrity and traceability shows that this approach towards management information is successful in a manufacturing environment. Better management information leads to better decision making.

At this moment the available management information is based upon the data of the SecIS database. In due time other areas are connected to the Manufacturing Data Warehouse to increase the scope of quality and traceability management reporting by the standard report tool Business Objects.


(1)  The author wishes to thank Erik Brouwer ( ICT Solutons B.V.), Raf Brijs ( SA) and Erwin Winkel (British American Tobacco) for their valuable contribution.




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