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Financial autonomy and control: Gilbarco's advanced reporting

The company needed more efficient business intelligence. The solution arrived thanks to the implementation of Hubble: real-time data analysis now supports decisions

Interview with Riccardo Picchi, Chief Financial Officer of Gilbarco Italia

Credit: Gabriele Perrone, Sistemi&Impresa, October/November 2020


During a car trip, when you stop at a service station to get petrol you don't think about what's behind it from a technological point of view. To ensure the correct functioning of the entire process (from fuel delivery to final payment), digital automation and control systems come into play. It is in this context that the activity of Gilbarco Italia fits in, a company based in Florence founded in 1969 which operates worldwide in the field of fuel station automation with solutions and technologies for the supply of fuel systems , management, control and environmental integrity for the retail and commercial petroleum industry. With a turnover of 86 million euros and 220 employees, Gilbarco obtains 65% of its revenues from exports and the main foreign markets are the Middle East, Africa and Europe. The company also deals with the development of reporting software and the production of payment columns in its factory in the Tuscan capital, where a further hundred consultants work. Here, automation projects are carried out which serve to manage service stations remotely and make the various equipment within them communicate with each other. Level probes, control units, sensors and petrol pumps are purchased respectively from two subsidiaries, one American and one German. For the products purchased from the American one, the company is the exclusive distributor for all of Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Asia. In addition to software development and production, Gilbarco Italia deals with distribution, service and commercial activities. Furthermore, it is part of Vontier Corporation (the separation from the Fortive group took place in early October 2020), a company active in the science and technology sector that designs, produces and markets innovative products and services aimed at professional and industrial customers.

User autonomy is an organizational advantage

A company with such a complex business network needs adequate tools to independently monitor all operations, especially from a financial point of view. For this reason the company has decided to focus strongly on the digitalisation of processes. “The Business intelligence tool we previously used was complicated and did not have an immediate setup,” says Riccardo Picchi, Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of Gilbarco Italia. “We therefore decided to change it and rely on Hubble”, produced and distributed by Insightsoftware, present in our country since 2012 through Italia, as a real-time operational reporting system specific for Oracle's Enterprise resource planning (ERP) ( JD Edwards, E-Business suite and ERP Cloud). The reporting tool immediately proved to be "simple and immediate even for those with minimal knowledge of the JD Edwards database, both with pre-established models - such as Finance, Sales, Manufacturing, Warehouse, Service - and with new models". Through the use of Hubble and thanks to the support and training by Insightsoftware consultants, users "have become independent in their work" and this represents "an advantage from an organizational point of view to streamline internal processes". This convinced Gilbarco Italia, for 2021, to take a further step: "We want to exploit the Web part more, creating shared dashboards for users capable of giving real-time visibility of the main data also to top management, thus making decisions faster, relying on clear and precise information”. Among the company's objectives is also to integrate the data of the management system with the external applications used by other departments, cross-referencing information coming from different points, with a significant saving of time. “We are working on the migration towards the in-memory reporting solution, which practically consists of replicating the database and allows reports to be processed at a faster rate, to give company management immediate visibility on the main indicators in real time”

Speed also makes the difference for Finance

From a Finance point of view, Picchi recounts his personal experience to explain the paradigm shift linked to the adoption of Hubble: "When I joined the company in 2018, the first thing I wanted to understand was the level of digitalisation of the IT and reporting areas. The previous reporting system was not functional and we needed to equip ourselves with a tool that simplified the process, which was totally dependent on the IT structure. We were struck by Hubble's integration with JD Edwards, the ease of reporting and the fact that it is a high-performance and simplified tool to support analyses. Hubble knows how to 'read' the JD Edwards tables, so every day we can have 'scheduled' warehouse, stock, purchasing optimization, sales and accounting reports. Suffice it to say that we have an average of 160 reports scheduled every day, so a lot of data to cross-reference and manage." Furthermore, the reporting system allows you to query the accounting accounts which give visibility of the transactions, as well as 'mapping' the statutory balance sheet (which was previously in Excel). Picchi then cites, as an example, the closing of the monthly report: if previously loading the data into the parent company's consolidation tool "took about 24 hours", today, with Hubble, "15-20 minutes is enough". Thus the Finance office gained time to dedicate itself more to checks and verifications before the final validation of the month's results.

Technical skills and entrepreneurial spirit

We have come a long way since the beginning of the Group's activity in 1985, when two American entrepreneurs, Charles Gilbert and John Barker, joined together in a partnership to build the Springfield gas machine (the Gilbarco name dates back to 1929), a company it dealt with the conversion of crude oil distillates into a gas used for lighting buildings. Today the business has evolved, but "the profound technological and scientific skills, combined with the entrepreneurial spirit, have remained unchanged, which have allowed us to quickly become global leaders in the industrial equipment sector aimed at the petrol station market". A highway, the one with a leadership destination, which can be traveled at maximum speed only if you have the right wheels available.

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