Poor data quality and slow, manual reporting impacted Bestway Cement’s managers’ ability to identify opportunities for operational efficiency, affecting profitability and environmental impact.
Bestway Cement deployed SAP S/4HANA on IBM Power Systems H922 servers and IBM FlashSystem 5030 storage, implemented by IBM Lab Services.
94% cutin month-end close, from three weeks to one day
80% reductionin number of physical servers
Dramaticreduction in power, cooling and floor space requirements
Business challenge story
Knowledge is power
With four major sites each delivering millions of tons of cement a year, Bestway Cement runs energy-intensive, complex industrial processes. From goods inwards to customer deliveries, operational efficiency is an absolute priority, to help the company achieve improved quality, enhanced profitability, and reduced environmental footprint.
Built in part through acquisition, Bestway Cement relied on multiple, separate solutions to run the business. In this situation, from raw materials to final product, managers were unable to obtain timely, accurate data for analysis, impacting their ability to identify opportunities for efficiency improvements.
For example, as trucks enter and leave each site they pass onto weighbridges to determine the exact loads, which is a critical piece of data. Extracting the information (e.g. truck identity, materials item, load weight, time, date) and matching it to finances and production was an error-prone process, and by the time results were generated a week or more later, opportunities to rectify discrepancies were long gone.
Junaid Nasir, Head of Information Technology Department, explains, “Extracting information was largely manual, which introduced an element of human error. Managers were sent printed reports, often based on poor quality input data, that ran to hundreds of pages, all delivered two or three weeks after the event. Similarly, on the finance side, the general ledger, payroll, and accounts payables systems ran on individual systems, and month-end closing could take up to three weeks.”
He continues, “In a commodity sector such as cement, operational capability is the central lever to enhance profitability. At the same time, when running a business with very high energy consumption, efficiency also makes a direct contribution to reducing environmental impact. With these twin imperatives, Bestway Cement looked for ways to improve performance by providing real-time data to executives, helping us to cut waste and grow the business, even as we improve our green credentials.”
Casting the SAP strategy
Bestway Cement ran largely home-grown applications, relying on multiple databases sitting on 12 independent physical Intel-based servers. The Bestway Cement team realized that moving to an ERP solution was the best route, and chose SAP S/4HANA, as Junaid Nasir reports: “SAP S/4HANA offers mature business capabilities that are ideally suited to Bestway Cement.”
Sufyan Ehsan, Senior Deputy Manager, ERP and Applications Architect adds, “We felt that SAP S/4HANA provides superior functionality for our key operational areas, including production planning and plant maintenance, all fully integrated with financials. This would allow us to manage the enterprise as a single entity, enabling us to tackle and solve our business challenges based on current data.”
Because the existing servers were not certified to run SAP S/4HANA and were not able to support its 64-bit architecture, Bestway Cement invited hardware specialists to suggest new infrastructure. At this point, after noticing a LinkedIn post concerning the project, the IBM team contacted Bestway Cement and proposed a new strategy, based on IBM Power Systems technology for both servers and storage. The IBM solution held the prospect of dramatic cost reductions and significant performance advantages.
Switching on the power
IBM proposed replacing the 12 Intel-based servers with just two IBM Power Systems servers, certified for SAP S/4HANA, and upgrading the existing storage to IBM FlashSystem 5030. The IBM infrastructure footprint would be easier to manage, with reduced power consumption and lower cooling requirements, and offered greater compute performance from fewer processor cores.
To demonstrate the capabilities of the IBM Power Systems platform, IBM created a proof of concept and ran a two-day workshop. The IBM servers would be capable of supporting both the new SAP S/4HANA solutions and additional business systems that Bestway Cement planned to retain.
Sufyan Ehsan adds, “Considered as a complete package, the IBM Power Systems servers offered considerably reduced administration and operational costs. For example, the Intel-based offerings required separate deployment and licensing for hypervisor and operating systems, whereas IBM Power Systems servers include integrated IBM PowerVM® virtualization and SUSE Linux Enterprise Server licenses.”
He continues, “Modeled on a predicted SAP Application Performance Standard (SAPS) figure, an Intel-based solution showed at least twelve servers with 56 cores. We could achieve the same SAPS result with just two IBM Power Systems H922 servers, each with two ten-core processors. Finally, by eliminating 12 older machines and moving to IBM Power Systems H922 servers, we would reduce our cooling load and power consumption, and occupy less server room space, contributing to our total savings.”
To fully support the new SAP S/4HANA solutions, Bestway Cement examined its data storage requirements, and chose to move to IBM FlashSystem 5030. Built with IBM Spectrum® Virtualize and including data reduction and IBM Easy Tier technologies, IBM FlashSystem 5030 delivers enterprise capabilities at entry-level pricing.
Naveed Shakur, Deputy Manager, Infrastructure and Network Security Analyst, comments, “We were experiencing connectivity issues with our network attached storage (NAS) infrastructure. The danger was that we deployed SAP S/4HANA only to find that the NAS would be a significant bottleneck. Bestway Cement chose IBM FlashSystem 5030 because it delivers a fully integrated, high-performance solution that will help us gain the maximum benefit from SAP S/4HANA and drive the business forwards.”
Bestway Cement engaged IBM Lab Services to implement the IBM server and storage solutions, and IBM Business Partner Teamsun Technology Pakistan to support the data migration. Today, the solution supports 350 concurrent users, accessing around 800 GB of core data.
Naveed Shakur continues, “Teamsun assisted us with moving data, processes and people to the new solution, and provided great support every step of the way. As an IBM Business Partner, Teamsun offered excellent experience and knowledge of the IBM infrastructure, and the combined team completed the implementation on time and within budget.”
The ultimate ambition at Bestway Cement is to help the company improve efficiency by matching orders closely to production, reducing waste, and cutting energy and environmental impact.
By deploying integrated SAP S/4HANA solutions on IBM Power Systems H922 servers and IBM Storage, for the first time Bestway Cement will have an integrated overview of its production across all four manufacturing sites. From raw materials to finished product, Bestway will gain visibility of costs, profitability, and processes, available in real time.
Sufiyan Ehsan elaborates, “Daily production and cost reports are now available on an actuals rather than estimated basis, with zero manual intervention and no reporting errors. Taking up the earlier example of the weighbridges, we can see truck tare and gross weights in real time from every depot, and we can highlight potential mismatches that might cause production or delivery problems and take action.”
To provide streamlined information flows, Teamsun has built executive dashboards that deliver month-end closing figures within one day. The dashboards permit drill-down into related operational data – such as the cost of goods inwards, production performance and much more – enabled by the integrated nature of the SAP S/4HANA solutions and the high-performance IBM server and storage platforms.
Junaid Nasir concludes, “The SAP and IBM solutions are helping to transform efficiency at Bestway Cement at every level. For example, real-time information provided by the executive dashboards have removed the need for printed reports, saving thousands of sheets of paper every week.”
“With SAP S/4HANA and IBM Power Systems, Bestway Cement can understand its current production, delivery and financial position, and work to find savings that help us deliver improved profitability, offer a better service to customers, and realize lower operational costs. IBM and SAP technologies help Bestway to achieve more as we consume fewer resources, at great benefit to the industry, its stakeholders and the environment.”
About Bestway Cement Limited
Bestway Cement manufactures more than 10 million tons of cement annually and is the largest cement producer in Pakistan. The company achieved revenues of approximately PKR 79 billion ($500 million) in 2019, employs more than 2,000 people, and frequently wins environmental excellence and corporate social responsibility awards.
Take the next step
To learn more about the IBM SAP Alliance, please contact your IBM representative or IBM Business Partner, or visit: ibm.com/sap
To learn more about IBM Power Systems, please contact your IBM representative or IBM Business Partner, or visit: ibm.com/it-infrastructure/power
To learn more about IBM Storage, please contact your IBM representative or IBM Business Partner, or visit: ibm.com/it-infrastructure/storage
Teamsun Technology Pakistan is a multinational IT service group with a service network covering Greater China, Southeast Asia, North America and Eastern Europe. To learn more about products and services from Teamsun Technology Pakistan, please visit: teamsun.com.pk