Automated Data Makes for Rapid Reports and More Problem Solving

A Story City food packaging company expects to save more than three-and-a-half weeks of labor over the next year after CIRAS helped the business automate weekly and monthly reports for managers.

Dennis Sankot, production manager for American Packaging Corporation, used to spend about 16 hours a month transferring data from the company’s ERP (enterprise resource planning) computer system into weekly and monthly reports. Sankot now spends about 4 hours a month on the reports after CIRAS project manager Kirk Haaland showed him how to automate various calculations and the production of charts.

Production data now goes directly from the ERP into a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet. That enables automated calculations and creates charts on other sheets within the same workbook. Charts then are linked automatically to a designated Microsoft PowerPoint file.

Sankot said the data, which is used by American Packaging managers to monitor the productivity of various people and machines, now flows much more quickly into reports that managers can use in their decision-making operations.

CIRAS helped the company create “a more efficient process,” he added.

“Hopefully, a quicker path to get it there frees up time to spend a greater portion of our time on problem identification, problem solving, and problem resolution,” Sankot said. “The more time a manager can spend on the shop floor with the crews and working to solve problems, that’s really where the value is. But you have to have the data to know where the true opportunity is.”

Haaland described the project as a simple change to help capitalize on the true value of technology. American Packaging was already making data-driven decisions, but other Iowa businesses may feel stymied by not knowing how to use the data they already have.

“This is just the first step for a lot of smaller manufacturing companies in Iowa,” Haaland said. “If they can learn the value of their data, then hopefully they’ll be compelled to do more with it.

For more information, contact Kirk Haaland at or 515-520-7623.