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Rick McCormick, Inventory Control Supervisor at Scientific Drilling International, retired from the Air Force in 2001 and started at Scientific Drilling International four days later running gyroscopic surveys. He’s been working for and improving business practices and Scientific Drilling International ever since.

Scientific Drilling International learns more about the nature of the earth every day through its modern drilling practices—they are leaders in the global wellbore navigation services market as well as the US directional services market. The company supports oil and gas drilling, unconventional resources, geothermal, and mining industries in over 26 countries and almost 40 locations. Rick explains, “We can drill down five miles into the earth and tell you exactly where the bottom of your hole is—whether you’ve crossed property lines, whether you’re close to your target, close to a gas reserve, a geo-thermal well, etc.” Rick McCormick drilled gyroscopic surveys for about five years but being on call 24/7/365 was tiring. He moved into asset management in Oklahoma around 2009. After managing assets for about 3-4 years, he received a phone call asking if he would manage assets across the entire US. A testament to his hard work, he did that for only three years when he was asked to manage them worldwide. Managing assets in 83 locations worldwide had him traveling every other week, and it was wearing him down.

In 2013, Rick was in Vera Cruz, New Mexico, doing an inventory report, and after a discussion with his boss, decided that they really needed a report that told them where their assets were. Rick was familiar with Microsoft Excel, so he built an asset management system with the platform that was adopted by 150 users. “But as you know Microsoft Excel is limited to just over a million rows, and we have way too many assets and way too many data points for that. It was taking me eight hours to produce my report in Excel—just waiting on the computer to process the data,” Rick explains. With over 76,000 assets and 168 million points of data to track, Rick was researching a better way to optimize his asset management system.

Power BI was brought up a few times by other SDI employees as a possible solution. At the request and recommendation of a few colleagues, Rick started looking into the benefits of using Power BI. He needed to make sure that it was capable of creating reports that could be distributed to 100-250 users across the enterprise. Serendipitously, he was invited by Stuart Macanliss at USM Technology, a Microsoft Partner, to attend a Dashboard in a Day workshop. Immediately after that, Rick reached out to Stuart to see if they could help him implement Power BI at Scientific Drilling International.

An upgraded asset management system

With Stuart’s help, Scientific Drilling International was able to transition to Power BI in just six short weeks. Stuart helped convert their most difficult reports, designed the formulas to follow, and rebuilt each new data point individually from scratch. Not only is Power BI fueling the inventory reports, but Scientific Drilling International is also using SharePoint and Office 365 to keep data separated and pushed out daily, so the company can track trends. Stuart explains, “What we did was came up with a path of exporting content on a schedule, so it could be sent to an Office 365 mailbox and then Microsoft Flow sees that file come in, grabs the attachment, saves it in a specific folder in a OneDrive environment. That OneDrive environment is where Power BI connects, and each folder is designated to each type of equipment, so they stay separate.” Instead of Rick having to load, update, and save manually, the report automatically updates and publishes.

Benefits of supply chain optimization

By implementing Power BI and other Microsoft technologies, Rick is saving time and creating more reports. He’s also optimizing the information contained in those reports and that optimization is being felt throughout the supply chain. Users can track the status of an asset—whether it’s being used, is available, needs repair, or if more assets need to be ordered—which informs people throughout the organization from the job sites to the CEO. Rick explains, “Now, when a manager says he needs X amount of dollars to create new assets, upper management can look at the report to see current utilization of existing equipment before approving the purchase. It gives our executives the tool they need for the company to have the knowledge to only spend money on the resources they absolutely need. This gives leadership the necessary data to help them make high level decisions on important levels of business.” The company no longer orders materials they don’t need, so they’re saving money.

The specialized up-to-date reports that Rick creates in Power BI are also saving the company money by preventing unnecessary purchases before they happen. For example, “If a manager says, ‘I want to purchase 100 new widgets,’ the Vice President can look at the report and say, ‘you’re not even using 60% of the widgets you have now,” Rick explains.

When asked about what advice he has for other organizations hoping to transform their organization through technology, Rick is quick to point out the help from Stuart, an expert Microsoft Partner, the planning that they had going in about a clear deliverable for Scientific Drilling International, and that he had a basic technology understanding. But, Rick tends to forget that he helped kick off the transformation at his company—he took the initiative to research a better asset management system. So, if organizations are truly interested in transforming their business practices, they should look to their employees to make sure they feel empowered to make these decisions and to seek out innovative solutions.