How New Database Technology Fuels Oil Company’s Analytics

by | Sep 20, 2018 | General BI

Reading Time: 4 minutes

If “America runs on Dunkin’,” then parts of Ireland certainly run on Corrib Oil. Corrib not only fuels people with coffee and bakery items, it sells fuel for homes, cars, and trucks in the west of Ireland and the midlands.

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Corrib’s business has two sides– oil distribution and 18 retail locations selling gas, coffee, fresh foods, and grocery items. But each side of the business has many components and each component can have several data technologies in place. How does a company like that get its arms around all its data to assess the state of its business? Here is how Corrib wrangled its data – and then instituted one change to make that data enormously more useful.

Collecting data from many systems

Corrib Oil Distribution is a leading distributor of heating oil and road fuels in Ireland’s west and midlands, while Corrib Retail is a premier operator of 18 upscale convenience stores and service stations. Corrib Oil collects data on its fleet management, truck loading, fuel stock levels, and its fuel card systems. Corrib Retail, which sells about 17,000 SKUs across all its stores, has systems in place to track its inventory, products sold, hygiene/safety, fuel stock levels, and the 115,000 customers participating in its rewards programs. Further complicating data collection, each shop had its own server and none of them were connected!

To report on the state of its business each week, the company used to print reports from each system and compile everything manually in an Excel spreadsheet on Monday morning. No surprise, the process was very time-consuming and prone to errors.

Pulling it all together

Corrib pulled all this data together in Diver Platform, which it purchased in 2011 through Dynamic Business Informatics, a Dimensional Insight reseller in Ireland. Diver allows Corrib to access all its information at once rather than having to extract data from each separate system. The company now can produce more reports as well as reports that are more in-depth. And Corrib Retail users can drill down to learn about specific products at each site to see what is selling well and what is not. In one instance, reports showed that coffee was selling briskly at all retail locations except one. A manager investigated and found the coffee machine was not located in the correct spot in that one store.

In addition, Diver helps Corrib Oil meet certain revenue compliance regulations. The company set up a report that is automatically updated each month. The process involves thousands of sales invoices. Corrib says it would be almost impossible to produce this report on time each month if employees were doing it manually.

Speeding things up

Recently, Corrib upgraded to Spectre technology, part of Diver Platform’s Version 7.0. Spectre is a columnar database, which enables greater speed and efficiency for the most-used analytics features. In the columnar database design, fields for each record are separated into categories by similarity and are stored together in blocks of memory. This allows for only the relevant columns to be accessed during a calculation, resulting in an enhanced level of speed and efficiency.

Corrib saw results instantly. Spectre increased the speed of the company’s reports by 96%. Before the upgrade, Corrib was processing so much information overnight that reports would not be completed until 11 a.m. Now, what used to take five and half hours is finished in 12 minutes, and all the data is ready for the start of the business day.

What’s next

Corrib currently uses Diver to bring together its clocking and payroll systems so the company can compare what’s being clocked versus what’s being paid. This information compared against sales helps the company analyze sales per hour spent and cost per hours spent. The company also can determine which times are the busiest at which sites. In the future, Corrib may tie it all together to inform its staffing levels in certain stores and certain times.

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Laura Remington

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