Studies have shown that fabrication professionals waste up to 30% of their time looking for, protecting or preparing data. Another 20% of their time can be wasted on building information assets that already exist. That can add up to half of their time chasing down information or repeating efforts that could be done automatically by Power BI.
The components of Power BI are:
- Power Query – On the back end, this is where information is collected, extracted and transformed. Background code identifies the information you want to use.
- Power Pivot – After your initial import, this is where you build the data relationships. You can also set refresh schedules with security on your datasets. This feature always runs in the background and updates your information.
- Power View – The most powerful part of the program, this is where you start to bring in visuals and decide what information you want them to represent. With over 250 visuals, Power View is flexible and gives you the ability to look at your information in a clearer way. It can also function with Microsoft Teams, showing each team their individual workspace.
- Power BI Service – Publish online so people can view a representation of the data. No one has to have the original data file, and they don’t have to have the desktop version of Power BI.
In his MEP Force class on Power BI (August 31 at 12:40 pm), Tyler Phillips, Estimator at Bruner Corporation, gave a step-by-step overview of Microsoft Power BI, business intelligence software, then he talked about four tips for increasing labor productivity using Power BI with your Fabrication content.
- Extract .xlsx or .csv from a dashboard – You can extract a .csv from a table once you have drilled down to an item type. Use this to create new content or modify existing content in the product information editor. In the dashboard, select the ellipsis in the top right corner; select “export data”; save. You can edit .csv and .txt files on the fly.
- Download VsCode and these extensions – VsCode editor will open .csv files and with the extension can be edited without the formatting applied. This is a time saver when editing or modifying product information.
- VsCode download link: https://code.visualstudio.com/download
- .csv editor extension: https://marketplace.visualstudio.com/items?itemName=janisdd.vscode-edit-csv
- Rainbow csv: https://marketplace.visualstudio.com/items?itemName=mechatroner.rainbow-csv
- Save queries from the advanced editor to paste for later use – Save M language scripts from the advanced editor as power query files.
- Download the Power Query Extension for VsCode: https://marketplace.visualstudio.com/items?itemName=sea1jxr.powerquerymlanguage
- Open the advanced editor from Power Query, copy and paste into VsCode, then save as .pq filetype.
- Design mobile layouts for dashboards – Mobile designer is located in the view tab in Power BI desktop under “Phone Layout.”
- Download the app to view all the dashboards you have created layouts for: https://powerbi.microsoft.com/en-us/mobile/
Power BI originated as a data analysis add-on in Excel. It is now a separate program that brings your information together, as Phillips described, “like a train station for all of your data.” It can pull information from hundreds of different sources and formats into one dashboard so you can share your Fabrication content in a weekly report or some other form of reporting.
To see Tyler’s demonstration of these tips and tricks using Power BI, go to MEP Force 2020 Virtual agenda. Earlier in the on-demand session, he also goes through the steps for creating a live, interactive and sharable dashboard for efficient Fabrication workflows.