Faurecia’s automotive industry customers work on a just-in-time basis and demand faultless order fulfillment. Failure to meet agreed service levels can result in severe financial penalties and reputational damage.
To support always-on operations as its business grows, Faurecia switched from a single to a multi-instance SAP landscape, selecting IBM Services to expertly manage this complex and unusual transition.
Minimizes downtimethanks to longer regional maintenance windows
Cuts complexitywith fewer users per instance while maintaining common core system
Supports future growthby providing a flexible and secure multi-site architecture
Business Challenge Story
Meeting strict delivery targets
Faurecia is committed to achieving very high levels of order delivery fulfillment, and its automotive customers run particularly lean just-in-time manufacturing processes. Failure to meet agreed service levels can result in severe contract penalties for Faurecia, not to mention reputational damage.
To run its worldwide operations, Faurecia relies on a comprehensive set of SAP applications, supported by IBM Db2® databases and running on IBM Power Systems™ servers. Previously, these were deployed as a single instance supporting more than 200 production sites in 33 countries.
Eric Godard, Head of Applications at Faurecia, explains the challenge this created: “Our IBM Power Systems infrastructure and the use of IBM Db2 as our database for SAP gave us a very robust and resilient platform for the global business. However, taking into account our multiple time zones and at least six 24-hour days of operations per week, there were almost no windows for planned system maintenance. If we needed to stop the SAP applications even for an hour, it was almost impossible to arrange that without some impact on the business. Having all our users on a single system also implied longer downtime for each maintenance task.”
Within the context of a growing global business, and one in which the focus is moving from the traditional footprint in Europe to faster growth countries in Asia, Faurecia needed a new systems architecture that would support its expansion. It was vital to move to a new architecture that would reduce risk and minimize the impact of planned maintenance on Faurecia’s supply chain, manufacturing and customer service levels.
Widening maintenance windows while reducing business disruption
Faurecia chose to split its existing single SAP instance into a multi-instance landscape, based on regional centers. Restricting each instance to a smaller subset of time zones would open up more possible maintenance windows, as well as reducing the number of users for each instance. While splitting out the SAP landscape into different geographic zones, Faurecia did not want to introduce inconsistencies, so it maintained its efficient and proven single, central development system to handle all local customization requirements.
The company did not want to lose the benefits of centralized, standardized data and business processes, and maintaining enterprise operations was particularly important. This meant that it would continue to roll out SAP applications to countries and business units not yet covered by the existing solution, while simultaneously tackling the ambitious split of the single global instance. Naturally, this added significant difficulty and risk to the project.
Eric Godard comments, “The multi-instance project is an indispensable element in our strategy. It also forms part of a global project to secure our IT systems, enabling us to adopt a more regional vision for the management of high availability, using more robust and comprehensive disaster recovery capabilities. One of the most notable aspects of this project is that we had to do it right in the middle of our SAP rollout, when our functional and technical teams were already heavily involved in the existing deployment. And of course, we could not tolerate any significant downtime when splitting out the SAP instances, all of which created a vital need for extremely good coordination of resources and activities.”
To make its plans a reality, Faurecia needed a partner capable of planning, designing and deploying the new SAP landscape from top to bottom, and of coordinating all of the internal and external team members with military precision.
“Our main reason for choosing IBM Services was their ability to understand all the layers of the SAP solution stack, from the networking and hardware, through the database, right up to the SAP software,” says Eric Godard. “Splitting SAP instances is an unusual project, and very few people have that experience. We knew that IBM Services was able to meet all the pre-requirements for this project. A major challenge was to measure and limit the risks, and we had to be absolutely certain that the changeover would not affect the business. IBM was able to demonstrate very sophisticated risk analysis, identifying the critical points, and then creating a program that met our business needs.”
He adds: “We needed to put the full project team into action right from day one. This included every discipline: functional, technical, network and business. IBM Services played a key role in coordinating the activities to limit the impact on the business, and was very focused on achieving our goals.”
The project plan called for the creation of a new central SAP instance for each of Faurecia’s three operational regions: EMEA, North and South America, and Asia-Pacific. The core SAP application sets include SAP® ERP, with components for finance and controlling, sales and distribution, materials management, production planning, planned maintenance, advanced planning and optimization, supply chain management, and enterprise data warehousing.
Additionally, Faurecia runs SAP Sales Relationship Management, SAP Process Integration, SAP Business Intelligence, SAP Portal, SAP Manufacturing Integration and Intelligence, SAP Solution Manager, SAP Central Process Scheduling (CPS).
The project began with a six-month blueprint phase to evaluate the existing landscape and understand all of the regional customization – which needed to be perfectly replicated in the future architecture. During this phase, IBM and Faurecia undertook very rigorous risk analysis and performed countless dry runs to ensure that there would be no unexpected problems.
Starting with Asia-Pacific, the smallest footprint, Faurecia first performed the logical split of users and applications to a new SAP instance. On successful completion of this stage, it moved the Asia-Pacific instance to a new dedicated physical landscape, still within the existing data center in Germany. The company then performed the same tasks for the North and South America region. To limit risk, migration of the EMEA group, with the largest user base, was completed last. Each regional implementation of the new system landscape followed the same steps using the same principles, becoming a known deployment process. Faurecia and IBM also created a new global SAP instance specifically to handle shared global master data, to ensure ongoing consistency in processes across the three regions.
“IBM Services put in place a set of governance, reporting and business intelligence tools that performed very well,” says Eric Godard. “IBM coordinated the teams, provided the Db2 domain expertise, and SAP administration, while Faurecia handled the functional requirements. The result was that we were on time or early for every single rollout, with no business disruption.”
With global support from IBM, Faurecia was able to complete each of the instance-split projects within the targeted 48-hour timeframe, keeping the impact on business operations to a minimum.
“In terms of the business view of the solution, the multi-instance project did not really change anything, which was precisely the goal,” says Eric Godard. “The only major impact on users is that we stop the systems less frequently and for shorter periods when maintenance is required. Thanks in part to the stability and resilience of our IBM Power Systems infrastructure with IBM Db2, we did not have major problems with downtime in the past, but we knew that we needed to take this precautionary step to prepare the business for the future. As we grow, we are confident that the multi-instance architecture will help us to keep our critical SAP systems in optimal condition at all times.”
Strengthening SAP reliability and availability
Now that the multi-instance project is complete, Faurecia is reorganizing its data centers to increase physical resilience and to reduce latency for users, moving the entire new regional SAP landscapes to local centers in North America, Asia and Europe.
Even now that the regional systems are logically and physically separate, Faurecia continues to run the same set of SAP solutions for all regions, so that all test and development activities can be handled centrally in a single system. Where local customization is required – for example, to meet the Nota Fiscal statutory requirements in Brazil – Faurecia develops and releases the functionality a single time for all regions, but it is actively used only in the relevant country. In this way, the company not only avoids the need to have local development teams and systems, but also ensures commonality between all systems – a great benefit in areas such as support and disaster recovery.
Eric Godard comments, “We needed to support 100 percent of the existing local customizations, and to enable future customization as required by the business. With a single, central development system, we can do this cost-effectively, consistently and without any loss of control. Globally, the availability of our SAP systems is always improving, and the multi-instance project is certainly a major contributor to that. As the new, separate data centers come on-line, we will be able to complete our business continuity and disaster recovery plans, all designed to reduce business risk.”
The smaller SAP systems enable easier management, with longer regional maintenance windows. For example, previously the volume of data made it a challenge to complete the overnight data load ready for the business intelligence systems. With smaller local datasets, Faurecia can complete this easily and provide the regional teams with the information they need. The multi-site architecture is ready to absorb planned growth, and has been designed with new technologies such as in-memory databases in mind.
Eric Godard concludes, “IBM Services was able to provide the expert global resources and mobilize additional capacity when needed to make this project an outstanding success, readying Faurecia for its next expansion phase.”
Automotive components manufacturer Faurecia supplies leading global vehicle makers with emissions control technologies, seating, and interior and exterior systems. With global operations employing 94,000 people, this hugely successful company generated group sales of more than EUR18 billion in 2013.
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