Suzhou Universal Chain Technology Company (hereafter referred to as Suzhou Universal Chain) and IBM China recently announced the successful development of Suzhou Universal Chain’s enterprise application integration platform and business process automation management platform using IBM hybrid cloud and AI software. This was achieved after six months of dedicated efforts and laid the foundation for reshaping the company into a more digitally advanced and intelligent enterprise.

With more than 50 years of experience in the research and development (R&D) and manufacturing of chains, Suzhou Universal Chain is a leader in the domestic chain industry. It is also a national high-tech enterprise that integrates chain R&D, manufacturing and sales. In recent years, Suzhou Universal Chain has recognized the importance of digitalization and intelligent transformation as key drivers in advancing its business operations. Therefore, to support its various business processes, Suzhou Universal Chain has developed and deployed several IT systems, including a manufacturing execution system (MES), enterprise resource planning (ERP), warehouse management system (WMS), quality inspection system and supplier management system.

As high-tech businesses rapidly develop and competition intensifies, Suzhou Universal Chain urgently needed to ensure close cooperation and interconnectivity between their upstream and downstream business operations, encompassing product design, production, logistics, sales and more. Accordingly, Suzhou Universal Chain needed to build a unified and modernized business process management platform that facilitated such integration to improve its overall efficiency.

The following are some of the main goals that were accomplished in the development of an enterprise application integration platform and business process automation management platform using IBM hybrid cloud and AI software.

Establish interconnectivity between multiple systems to speed up order delivery

A siloed IT system architecture often leads to inefficient business processes, making it difficult to quickly identify risks and resulting in lengthy order delivery cycles. Hence, in its digital transformation journey, Suzhou Universal Chain’s core considerations lay in maximizing business value by realizing seamless interconnectivity between IT systems used by different work roles, ensuring a smooth and efficient connection between business processes and rapid order delivery with fast alerts, end-to-end visibility and traceability.

However, achieving unified management and monitoring between multiple application systems requires addressing numerous practical technical problems. For instance, some previously deployed system interfaces are too outdated and do not align with current popular communication protocols, while others are relatively complex and make use of a point-to-point transmission mode, resulting in high coupling. Additionally, some system interfaces are repetitive and unidentifiable, and the relevant historical codes are either lost or unreadable. The lack of unified interface standards and specifications also makes it difficult to integrate newly launched systems. Due to the obvious information silos, there is no unified integration, which makes it impossible to achieve interoperability and information sharing among logs.

Therefore, Suzhou Universal Chain collaborated with the IBM Customer Success Manager team and utilized IBM Cloud Pak for Integration and its enterprise service bus component, IBM App Connect, to deliver a reliable application integration solution—a lightweight and agile application integration platform for the enterprise.

Based on the manufacturing industry’s enterprise service bus, the unified application integration platform resolved Suzhou Universal Chain’s issue of confusing system interfaces, and the lightweight, agile integration architecture allows for the connection of multiple application interfaces and the processing of different data formats. The platform also provides capabilities for the synchronous and asynchronous transmission of information, while ensuring high security, stability and scalability, along with strong statistical, analytical and monitoring capabilities. 

Establish interconnectivity between multiple systems to speed up order delivery

As a representative industry leader in the transformation and upgrading of the manufacturing sector, Suzhou Universal Chain’s digitalization and intelligent transformation go beyond just optimizing and integrating its IT systems. They believe that a unified and modernized business process management automation platform is crucial for improving the company’s operational efficiency.

In the past, Suzhou Universal Chain relied mainly on offline communication for business process execution, leading to information gaps between different departments. This resulted in high communication costs from order to delivery and often made it difficult to meet delivery deadlines. Production management was also primarily based on experiential judgment, leading to frequent last-minute procurement of raw materials, which posed cost-management risks and caused delays in tracking procurement progress. Moreover, Suzhou Universal Chain lacked real-time feedback on the status of order placement to production to delivery, and there were no processes in place to handle exceptional situations.

With the assistance of the IBM Customer Success Manager team, Suzhou Universal Chain adopted the Business Automation Workflow (BAW) capabilities in IBM Cloud Pak for Business Automation as an enterprise-level solution to integrate their business systems and manage process approvals with full visibility of their business processes.

IBM Cloud Pak for Business Automation provides an integrated and coordinated software platform for process improvement and BAW lifecycle management, showcasing its advantages in process management and business rules management. Its robustness and high performance—required for critical task solutions—also enable customers to build the workflow and visualization process platform they need.

In addition to BAW, IBM Cloud Pak for Business Automation also encompasses intelligent automation capabilities like rules engine and document management, which can be rapidly expanded horizontally in the future to support more of the customers’ intelligent automation needs.

Currently, Suzhou Universal Chain utilizes IBM Cloud Pak for Business Automation to establish a unified business-process-automation management platform. The platform has a relatively simple development interface so the company’s IT team can easily develop new business processes according to new business requirements. Moreover, the development process is fast, debugging is convenient and quick, and deployment is easy.

The developed processes can be easily integrated with other systems and come with a built-in content and rules engine, meeting Suzhou Universal Chain’s needs for a simplified rules engine. Furthermore, from a technical perspective, the platform offers comprehensive process visualization, enabling effective management of complex internal processes and process compliance monitoring.

Built on a hybrid cloud foundation of Red Hat OpenShift, the platform allows customers to easily switch between different underlying infrastructures, henceforth simplifying Suzhou Universal Chain’s unified management of its applications, data and business processes in a hybrid IT environment.

Ms. Huang Yadan, General Manager of Suzhou Universal Chain, said, “Over the past six months, with the help of IBM Cloud Pak for Integration and IBM Cloud Pak for Business Automation, we have successfully streamlined various links and systems in our order-to-delivery process and achieved seamless integration and support for our business through interconnected IT systems. The IBM Customer Success Manager team also enabled our IT team with hands-on skills through a series of modernization workshops and fostered a collaborative and mutually beneficial environment. This is exactly the success we are looking forward to.”

Learn more

IBM Cloud Pak for Integration is a hybrid integration platform that applies the functionality of closed-loop AI automation to support multiple styles of integration. The platform provides a comprehensive set of integration tools within a single, unified experience to connect applications and data across any cloud or on-premises environment.

Get started with IBM Cloud Pak for Integration

IBM Cloud Pak for Business Automation is a modular set of integrated software components, built for any hybrid cloud, designed to automate work and accelerate business growth.

Get started with IBM Cloud Pak for Business Automation

Founded in 1970, Suzhou Universal Chain Technology Company has developed emerging high-tech sectors like intelligent systems and industrial application software in recent years. With digital leadership, agile development, flexible manufacturing, and intelligent testing, Suzhou Universal Chain wholeheartedly provides satisfactory products and high-quality services to global customers.

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