Avangard Innovative Transforms Recycling with Spotfire
Achieves market breakthrough with analytics that turns trash into cash
"Our digital business plans were to transform an industry that was pretty low tech," says Jason Lu, chief information and technology officer. "We wanted to bring complete transparency to our customers and our operational staff. Part of the goal was really to say, 'Hey, let's look at everything we can possibly look at—from our customers' recycling output to movement of goods—and provide insights. We wanted to bring data in from internal sources and customers to help drive operational improvement.
"Our biggest fear was customers not being able to meet their sustainability goals. One impact would be that the world would not be as great a place. But second, we're also trying to drive profitability. This is a game changer for the recycling business, and we really needed to provide both internal and external optics to make that happen.
"Our technology objectives were to infuse big data analytics into an overall solution where operations teams up with the customer to drive towards zero landfill. We wanted to couple real-time data analytics on a cloud platform with operations for an overall solution that would enable customers to catapult their sustainability program to places that could never be reached before. "The requirement for an analytics tool was that it be easy to use, something we could mobilize really easily. I didn't want to spend a lot of time making sure people were trained. I wanted us to be able to 'fire and forget,' just launch it and let the technology work for itself. That was the goal.
"In 2015, our team went through an extensive search for a new analytics platform, and we came across TIBCO as one of the best-in-class tools that would let us build a lot of our foundational analytics reports.
"Using TIBCO Spotfire®, we have achieved a new space in the recycling market that was previously unthinkable. In this low tech industry, we have end-to-end transparency. Clearly seeing everything from finance to operations to real-time data on customer recycling output is now a reality.
Trash to Cash
"There have been numerous extraordinarily positive business outcomes, something as simple as real-time metrics on smart machine production. We're able to increase customer recycling output by orders of magnitude, 4 to 10 times more than what they were able to do before. This is a real-world impact on sustainability for the planet, as well as on customers being able to monetize recyclables and turn trash into cash.
"The technology achievements using Spotfire were numerous. At a high level, our data platform is rather complex, but if we were to simplify, we're pulling from numerous data sources—everything from our internal ERP system, to maybe information coming from a third-party logistics provider or from smart machines out in the field at the customer site. We're able to pull that together into our data warehouse, transform the data, and put it into the integration layer, and ultimately the presentation layer, of which Spotfire is a key component. We're able to create those visualizations and make insights a reality for both our customers and our internal staff.
Within six months, or sometimes even a matter of weeks, we went from from zero dashboards to dozens and dozens of dashboards and numerous drill-down reports.
Easy to Use, Self-Service Insights
"What's interesting is that, as we build more analytics dashboards, the amount of questions actually increase, and that's fantastic. With self-service tools, users can quickly build their own reports and spark those insights they need, and do that quickly.
"Our next goals are rather broad. We are fundamentally transforming the recycling and waste industry in a big way. Instead of hauling things off to the landfill, we're allowing customers to get to zero landfill and 100% sustainability while turning their trash into cash. We're using big data analytics in our overall solution to get customers there quickly."