Case Studies - Brickworks

About Brickworks Limited

Brickworks Limited is proud of its history – a long, unbroken tradition that stretches back to the days of the Great Depression. It was in 1934 that a group of leading Sydney brick manufacturers formed a company to ensure the ongoing viability of the local brick industry. The expansion of the company was rapid and its success assured through technological innovation and strong management.

Determined to bring stability to the industry during the Depression years and provide leadership, the brick makers appointed William King Dawes as general manager. Dawes was also general manager of the highly successful Austral Brick Company Pty Limited. Under his direction Brickworks Limited prospered, becoming the single most important player in the brick industry, a position it retains to this day. Dawes continued to serve as managing director with both companies until his death in 1981.

Through its brands – Austral Bricks, Austral Masonry, Bristle Roofing, Auswest Timbers and Austral Precast – Brickworks has become a household name in Australia and New Zealand. In fact, the Austral brand is Australia’s largest manufacturer of bricks, pavers, retaining walls, building materials, facade systems and landscaping products.

Today, the company has more than 30 manufacturing operations in NSW, Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia, Western Australia and Queensland and the company is regularly growing, primarily through acquisitions.

Brickworks Planning and Reporting Challenge

One of the major reporting problems Brickworks faced was consolidated reporting. According to Anthony Hill, who manages the information systems for Brickworks and is heavily involved in the company’s reporting, “We have acquired a number of businesses since the mid 1980s. Each runs different operating and reporting systems, and each has a different approach to reporting and uses slightly different reporting templates. Consolidating the various systems into a single consistent reporting system has been a major challenge for the company.”

This often resulted in Brickworks having to re-key data into Excel in order to produce consolidated reports. This data then had to be checked and balanced back to the individual divisional reports which was inefficient and resulted in delays in publishing consolidated results. As a result, the company’s month-end report took approximately five days to complete.  

The Solution

Brickworks called in OYB to discuss the issues it was facing and help the company with its challenges. Working together, OYB and Brickworks developed a customised solution that could be used to consolidate the reporting data from all of the company’s operations.

“Essentially, we extract the data from the various divisional databases of our operations and import that into our customised tool. The tool can then be used to consolidate the data and provide management with the reports they need” Anthony says. “We have also increased our responsiveness to ad hoc requests for information and, because the tool is integrated with Excel, it is very easy to work with.”

While consolidated reporting is the main benefit of the customised tool, other benefits include improved integrity of the data and uniform reporting templates across all businesses. In addition, because the tool is performing all the consolidated processes it reduces the load on the Brickworks back end systems at month end, enabling more efficient sales and order entry for the front counter and call centre staff. So the system has not only helped the accounting staff, but also sales and ultimately customers.

While the tool has only recently been implemented, according to the Brickworks General Manager of Finance,  “OYB’s solution has tremendous potential to save our business significant time and effort.”

“Currently we are only using the tool to help us consolidate data from various cost centres and several divisions and we are already seeing time savings of several hours to do this work. This saving is critical in allowing us to meet our management reporting deadlines. When we are using the tool more fully to consolidate all our divisions, in addition to using it for planning and forecasting tasks, we’ll remove the need for two days of re-keying of data and will literally save days of time and effort,”.

Summary of Benefits

• Consolidation of data from a wide-range of sources

• Data integrity

• Reduced resource load on existing IT systems

• The ability to produce reports quickly and with significantly less effort

• The ability to grow as the company grows

The Next Challenge for Brickworks

Anthony says that due to the success of the customised tool with its reporting systems, the company is now looking to significantly grow its use.

“All divisions of the company do a weekly profit estimate and again these are difficult because of the rekeying of data required,” Anthony says. “So we are working with OYB to see how the tool can be customised to help with this process.”

Other potential areas for the tool’s implementation include budgeting, sales reporting and the graphical presentation of data, areas which also face the current consolidation issues.

“Developing and implementing the customised tool for our reporting was not all smooth sailing, we encountered a variety of problems along the way” says Anthony. “But the support we received from OYB was excellent and we have developed a very good relationship. I look forward to this continued support as we grow our partnership.”

About OYB

OYB is a company with a team of highly skilled people, dedicated to helping clients answer tomorrow’s questions today.

Our principals have more than 20 years experience providing planning and reporting solutions. They’ve worked with some of Australia’s biggest companies and have vast experience with a wide range of industries and businesses throughout Australia.

OYB’s goal is to help clients significantly reduce the time to gather reliable and accurate information. This provides clients with more time for the important work of analysing the information and providing detailed reports, plans and forecasts.

All of the OYB team is dedicated to not only providing the solutions clients need today, but also building and maintaining relationships so that the company can continue to provide support in the future.