Industry: Industrial Products
Solution: IT Infrastructure
Geography: EMEA

Wrapping up 24/7 business

Barbier Group keeps factories running around the clock

Investing in eco-friendly operations

The global plastics industry is changing fast as companies invest in becoming more efficient in both manufacturing and recycling. At Barbier Group—the leading producer of polythene films and wraps in France—just under 20 percent of finished product is made from recycled materials. Using IBM® Power® solutions with SAP HANA®, the company is driving big data analytics that will help it achieve even greater output from the same resources—delivering higher profitability and lower pollution.

Pioneering new technologies

By investing in Industry 4.0, Barbier Group aims to make productivity gains—both in terms of producing more value from the same raw materials and in terms of enhancing employee output. Today, the company is looking at intelligent technologies from SAP with IBM Watson® to improve the sophistication of its predictive maintenance.

Steering decisions with real-time data

With SAP HANA on IBM Power and IBM FlashSystem®, Barbier Group enjoys the benefits of ultra-fast access to production data while preparing for its migration to SAP S/4HANA®. The company can handle up to seven million queries a second, helping decision-makers work faster and more accurately.

Jean-François Desassis, CIO at Barbier Group, says, “SAP HANA has opened the doors to big data in real time. Users love being able to query large sets of data in real time, and to make faster decisions based on analytics insights. The new IBM Power servers give us very fast response times—it’s really a trio of technologies that provide these benefits: SAP HANA, IBM Power, and IBM i.” 

Barbier Group’s vision is to use internet of things (IoT) devices to capture real-time information from its manufacturing lines, feed this into SAP Plant Connectivity and IBM Watson, and build sophisticated predictive models to enhance maintenance. 

“We remain extremely happy with IBM Power and IBM FlashSystem,” says Desassis. “As CIO, I simply do not hear a word about the platform, because there are never any problems. And that’s great because I have enough other things to worry about! The systems management workload is very low, and the support from IBM and our partners is exemplary.”

Business Impact

Recognized as a major player in France for IBM Z®, IBM LinuxONE, IBM Power, and IBM Storage solutions, ACMI is also a market leader in cloud, managed services and cybersecurity. ACMI delivers end-to-end IT infrastructure solutions on-premises and in the cloud, and collaborates with the world’s largest software publishers and hardware manufacturers to help ensure high levels of reliability and performance for its customers.

Business Impact

  • Millions of data points queried in seconds, enabling rapid decision-making.
  • Delivers real-time insights, ensuring stakeholders always have access to accurate information.
  • Zero unplanned downtime on IBM Systems in more than 20 years of use, protecting the business from disruption.
  • Lays the foundation for future waste-reducing digital innovations, including Industry 4.0 technologies.

Preparing for new workloads

It is important for Barbier Group to stay ahead of the curve on efficiency not only for environmental reasons but also to ensure ongoing business success. The company aims to keep growing its output and income without increasing personnel numbers and while maintaining tight control over its environmental footprint.

Desassis says, “Barbier Group is adopting the principles of Industry 4.0 to enhance our manufacturing and distribution by integrating new technologies such as analytics, IoT and blockchain—and that means we also invest significantly in information technology.”

At the heart of Industry 4.0 is the idea of using data—sourced in real time from manufacturing, logistics, and the extended supply chain—to drive continuous optimization. To serve internal consumers of business intelligence, to support new real-time predictive analytics, and to enable future developments around IoT, Barbier Group set out to upgrade its SAP® ERP environment. 

“We wanted to have real-time insight into manufacturing and logistics so that we could drive better decision-making today, and support smart new technologies in the near future,” says Desassis. “The first step was to migrate our primary databases to SAP HANA, with the ultimate goal being to move to the SAP S/4HANA solution.”

Selecting a high-performance platform

Barbier Group’s existing server infrastructure was still performing well for the existing SAP workload but was not sufficiently advanced to be able to handle the increased real-time demands of the SAP HANA data platform, or future Industry 4.0 initiatives around IoT. Based on recommendations from SAP, Barbier Group benchmarked server and storage offerings from IBM and one other major global vendor to find the best platform for its needs.

“To run SAP Business Warehouse powered by SAP HANA for decision support, we targeted a platform capable of loading and manipulating large sets of data in real time,” says Desassis. “Our benchmarking exercise, using a server loaned by IBM, showed that IBM Power would give us the best performance for SAP HANA. This was also an opportunity to migrate our data to SAP HANA.”

Desassis continues, “Although the IBM offering had a higher acquisition cost than the competing offering, we were confident that the long-term cost of ownership would be significantly lower. We have long experience of the build quality, reliability, ease of management, and excellent support and maintenance from IBM. As we look to a more data-driven future in areas such as IoT-powered predictive maintenance, it’s reassuring to know that we have a solid, well-supported platform.”
 

Tackling the challenges of Industry 4.0

Today, Barbier Group is looking into increased automation in both manufacturing and logistics—for example, using AI video analysis to identify product defects and automatically correct manufacturing parameters. The company also aims to optimize the management of raw materials by improving demand forecasting, which should drive shorter manufacturing and delivery lead times. All these planned developments will run alongside, and tightly integrate with, the core SAP systems on IBM Power.

Support from external partners continues to be important for Barbier Group. The company’s strategy is to maintain a relatively small internal IT team that works very closely with the business. For deeper technical work, IBM Business Partners ACMI and SAP Business Partner TeamWork provide the necessary skills and competence. 

“Our partners work with multiple companies, so they maintain skills in topics like migrations that might only come up every four or five years for us,” says Desassis. “There’s no value in maintaining those skills internally because we would hardly ever use them. And if we need to spend time refreshing our memory when some issue emerges, that could halt production and leave 800 people temporarily unable to work.”

Customer Quote

We remain extremely happy with IBM Power and IBM FlashSystem. As CIO, I simply do not hear a word about the platform, because there are never any problems.

-Jean-François Desassis, CIO, Barbier Group

Customer Quote

We remain extremely happy with IBM Power and IBM FlashSystem. As CIO, I simply do not hear a word about the platform, because there are never any problems.

-Jean-François Desassis, CIO, Barbier Group

Relying on trusted partners

Barbier Group worked with ACMI to deploy and configure two IBM Power H922 servers, each with two 10-core IBM POWER9™ processors, together with two IBM FlashSystem 5000 arrays with solid-state drives. To complete the migration of its existing SAP systems and the configuration of the new HANA environment, Barbier Group worked with TeamWork.

The Power servers at Barbier Group run the migrated SAP core components and applications on the IBM i operating system, alongside the new SAP HANA databases on SUSE Linux Enterprise Server for SAP Applications. The company also runs SAP Business Warehouse powered by SAP HANA on IBM Power.

Having completed its adoption of SAP HANA database technology on IBM Power and IBM FlashSystem, Barbier Group is halfway along the road to SAP S/4HANA, which it anticipates deploying within the next three years.

Desassis concludes: “Investing in technology is part of our corporate strategy. Without the combination of SAP software, IBM i, IBM Power and IBM Storage, we’d need twice as many people to achieve the same financial turnover. And thanks to instantaneous access to the same reliable information throughout the company, this combination of technologies is supporting our ongoing growth and optimization.”

Relying on trusted partners

Barbier Group worked with ACMI to deploy and configure two IBM Power H922 servers, each with two 10-core IBM POWER9™ processors, together with two IBM FlashSystem 5000 arrays with solid-state drives. To complete the migration of its existing SAP systems and the configuration of the new HANA environment, Barbier Group worked with TeamWork.

The Power servers at Barbier Group run the migrated SAP core components and applications on the IBM i operating system, alongside the new SAP HANA databases on SUSE Linux Enterprise Server for SAP Applications. The company also runs SAP Business Warehouse powered by SAP HANA on IBM Power.

Having completed its adoption of SAP HANA database technology on IBM Power and IBM FlashSystem, Barbier Group is halfway along the road to SAP S/4HANA, which it anticipates deploying within the next three years.

Desassis concludes: “Investing in technology is part of our corporate strategy. Without the combination of SAP software, IBM i, IBM Power and IBM Storage, we’d need twice as many people to achieve the same financial turnover. And thanks to instantaneous access to the same reliable information throughout the company, this combination of technologies is supporting our ongoing growth and optimization.”

About Barbier Group

Barbier Group is a global leader in the extrusion, printing and sealing of polythene films and wraps for agriculture, industry, and distribution. A family company, the group has 11 manufacturing plants across five sites, plus two recycling plants, and all its products are certified “Origine France Garantie” (made in France).

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