Hirschmann Automotive needs to operate 24/7 to satisfy the demands of just-in-time manufacturing – yet existing systems suffered outages and lacked the required scalability and performance.
Hirschmann Automotive deployed an on-premise cloud environment built on cutting-edge IBM POWER8 servers, IBM Db2 databases and virtualized IBM storage to drive its central SAP ERP application.
50% fasterbackups enable better preparation against the threat of disaster
2-3xquicker capacity planning enables faster responses to short-notice customer orders
Halvesmaterials planning times to ensure smooth production processes
Business Challenge Story
Driving in the fast lane
For many automotive companies based in Europe and North America, the Asian, African and Latin American markets offer tempting new commercial opportunities. To keep costs low and delivery times short, the automotive companies aren’t simply opening sales offices in these new markets; they are shifting manufacturing operations there, too.
Bernhard Bösch, Team Leader Network and Data Center at Hirschmann Automotive, takes up the story: “As more of our clients expand into new markets, we need to be able to deliver our products fast regardless of location. Most automotive companies rely on just-in-time manufacturing, so for them, receiving goods rapidly and reliably is critical.”
To meet clients’ delivery demands, Hirschmann Automotive decided to co-locate its own manufacturing plants – at a stroke becoming a global company operating across multiple time zones.
Hermann Burtscher, SAP Basis Manager at Hirschmann Automotive explains: “With our systems being accessed by employees in different continents working across various time zones, even relatively short outages could slam the brakes on our production operations, impacting revenues and profits.
“At the time, our data centers were managed by a third party, and we suffered occasional issues with the performance and reliability of our core SAP ERP application. We therefore set out to find a solution that could better support our booming business.”
Putting mission-critical systems into gear
Hirschmann Automotive changed strategy, and decided to self-manage its mission-critical SAP environment using the latest on-premise cloud technologies. The company aimed to create a business information hub, accessed by staff across the world.
To accommodate the SAP solutions, the company built a new data center featuring state-of-the-art IBM servers, storage and software. An expert team from IBM Services provided support to help design, architect and deploy the solution, helping Hirschmann Automotive optimize reliability, security and flexibility as well as operational cost-efficiency.
Bernhard Bösch remarks: “We recognized that bringing management of our SAP ERP application back in-house would enable us to take new steps to boost performance and reliability. At the same time, we stood to unlock major cost savings, because we no longer had to pay a third party to manage our systems.
“As we set up our own on-premise cloud, IBM Services provided us with outstanding support. Whenever we hit bumps in the road, we could count on local IBM experts to help us find solutions fast.”
Hirschmann Automotive supports its global business with a single instance of SAP ERP, supporting a wide range of business processes in finance, controlling, human resources management, sales, product lifecycle management, materials management, production planning as well as logistics and distribution. The SAP systems run on the IBM AIX operating system and the IBM Db2 database.
Hermann Burtscher comments: “Our processes are tightly integrated, and manufacturing systems around the globe need seamless access to our business data. IBM Power Systems, IBM AIX and IBM Db2 are highly reliable, helping us achieve the extremely high availability we need for our business-critical SAP ERP application. If one system incurs unexpected downtime, with PowerHA technology we can failover from one logical partition to another in just seven minutes.
“In addition, the powerful compression capabilities offered by Db2 have enabled us to compress data by 50 percent on average across all systems, helping us save on storage. The Db2 platform also gives us the scalability we need to support our fast-growing business.”
To support the SAP systems, Hirschmann Automotive deployed the latest IBM Power System S824 servers, which feature state-of-the-art POWER8 processors. To further cut IT costs and to streamline storage management, Hirschmann Automotive consolidated its storage landscape on a flexible, fully redundant solution based on IBM Spectrum Virtualize™ technology in combination with IBM Storwize® V5000 and IBM Storwize V3700 storage devices.
Bernhard Bösch adds: “IBM Spectrum Virtualize technology makes it remarkably easy for us to manage and make the best use of our storage devices—the solution is a cut above what other vendors can offer. Additionally, the fast IBM POWER8 servers and the sophisticated IBM Storwize storage underpinning the new on-premise cloud platform enable us to boost both stability and performance.
“What’s more, we find it handy to rely on IBM as our vendor for the operating system, database, servers and storage. We receive excellent service, and when things go wrong, problems are solved quickly and without finger-pointing.”
To enable superb business continuity across Hirschmann Automotive’s mission-critical IT systems, IBM Services deployed IBM Spectrum Protect™, which enables automated backup to an IBM TS3200 tape library. Using the built-in Spectrum Protect feature in Db2, Hirschmann Automotive can continue using primary applications on the database servers while the backups run, reducing the need for planned downtime.
Foot on the growth pedal
With cutting-edge IBM technology, Hirschmann Automotive has achieved superb reliability for its SAP ERP solution to support its global business.
Hermann Burtscher elaborates: “Employees across the world depend on our core SAP ERP application for their day-to-day tasks. For example, factory staff use real-time access to the central SAP ERP instance to see which raw materials they are due to receive, so that they can provide accurate estimated timeframes for production and delivery to customers. Any system outages can quickly cause production backlogs and delay deliveries to clients.
“With sophisticated IBM solutions, we can keep our systems running smoothly around the clock. As we expand our business across the world, having that peace of mind is priceless.”
Through automation, Hirschmann Automotive has cut the time required for backups from three hours to just ninety minutes. This saving gives the company flexibility to perform backups more often – so that if disaster strikes, the impact will be minimal.
Hirschmann Automotive’s investment in slick IBM software, servers and storage is also paying off in the form of major performance boosts. For example, the company has significantly cut the time taken for SAP ERP batch processing.
Bernhard Bösch explains: “Because we serve automotive companies, which typically follow the principles of just-in-time manufacturing, we often receive last-minute orders from customers. Whenever this happens, we update our production plans to manufacture the most urgently needed goods first. To do so, we perform materials and capacity planning, which involves examining how many units of each product can be manufactured in a given time with the resources available. We also examine, for example, whether certain goods can be delivered faster if we shift production to a different manufacturing plant.
“By moving to the latest IBM technology, we have cut time for materials planning by 50 percent and accelerated capacity planning by up to three times. So whenever a customer contacts us with an urgent order request, we can give them faster feedback regarding when we will be able to deliver the finished goods. This service is enormously valuable to customers and acts as a powerful competitive differentiator, helping us boost satisfaction and loyalty.”
Moving to its own on-premise cloud has also enabled Hirschmann Automotive to take business agility to new highs. For example, in the past implementing changes, such as introducing new functionalities or performing upgrades, was a time-consuming process that involved coordination between internal and third-party teams. Now, IT staff have the freedom to manage these processes themselves. In a market with such fast-paced competition, being able to innovate and evolve quicker and more easily is enormously valuable.
Hermann Burtscher adds: “Thanks to the improved performance, we have also sharpened our business intelligence capabilities. Since we can move data so quickly from transactional SAP ERP into our business intelligence system, decision-makers gain more rapid insights into the business, and can react faster to new developments.”
Looking ahead, Hirschmann Automotive is planning to take advantage of mobile technologies such as SAP Fiori to give staff reliable access to relevant data anytime, anywhere. Taking advantage of mobile devices in factories and warehouses, for example, could drive significant productivity gains, by enabling employees to complete their tasks as they walk around the premises.
Additionally, the company has embarked on a Proof of Concept with Fraunhofer Institut to investigate the potential of the Internet of Things for driving efficiency and profitability.
Bernhard Bösch comments: “We are currently looking at how automation and sensor technology could enable us to optimize our production operations, boosting output while cutting waste and costs. The high-performance software, servers and storage from IBM can easily provide the processing horsepower needed to support those analytics and turn our vision into reality.”
Bernhard Bösch concludes: “IBM has provided us with a powerful on-premise cloud platform that supports our mission-critical SAP ERP applications and will help us meet our future goals, too. IBM and SAP technologies are a key driver of our exceptional commercial success.”
About Hirschmann Automotive
Hirschmann Automotive specializes in supplying parts such as connector systems, sensors and cables to major vehicle manufacturers across the world. Boasting double-digit annual revenue growth, the company is headquartered in Rankweil, Austria, employs around 4,500 people and has operations across the world.
- Auto: Automotive Software Engineering
- Auto: Manufacturing
- DB2 for Linux, UNIX and Windows
- IBM-SAP Alliance
- SAP ERP
- SAP Product Lifecycle Management (SAP PLM)
- Software - PowerHA (not HPC, nor VA Linux)
- Spectrum Protect (inc CDM)
- Storage: TS3200 Tape Library
- Storwize V5xxx