Business challenge

Global Omnium set out to optimize drinking water production by learning more about its systems and network, based on Internet of Things sensors. How could it cope with a torrent of new data?

Transformation

The company sharpened its analysis and big-data capabilities by migrating its SAP ERP applications to SAP HANA running in the IBM Cloud, providing scalable capabilities that offer in-depth insight.

Results

10% cut

in energy cost of producing drinking water, saving USD 1 million per year

15% cost saving

from moving to IBM Cloud

Boosts

reliability of water-supply service by enabling predictive maintenance

Business challenge story

Evolving the business

Global Omnium is dedicated to serving citizens across Spain with fresh, clean drinking water. As a commercial operation, it is essential to optimize production systems and maintain assets as cost-efficiently as possible. Looking at its network of pipes, dams, reservoirs and other equipment, how could Global Omnium optimize its operations? The first step would be to gather as much data as possible, analyzed and mined for possible system improvements, predictive maintenance and much more.

In addition, to maintain its market position, Global Omnium wanted to find ways to reduce the cost of drinking water production. For example, the company could choose to fill reservoirs only when energy is cheap or forecasted demand from neighboring cities is high.

To access deeper insight into its water-supply network, Global Omnium installed IoT sensors, monitoring a huge array of factors such as water levels, flow rates, asset status and more. The sensor data flows into the company’s Nexus Integra platform, which Global Omnium has combined with the database of SAP ERP applications. The SAP landscape includes SAP ECC, SAP ERP Finance and Controlling, SAP Plant Maintenance and SAP Business Warehouse.

Global Omnium realized that migrating its SAP ERP solutions to the SAP HANA database would enable near real-time analysis of the tremendous volumes of data streaming in, combining information from sensors with billing. Global Omnium looked for ways to usher in its digital transformation program in the most cost-effective, scalable manner.

With an on-premises infrastructure, rapid, unexpected growth could have caused all kinds of headaches, but with IBM Cloud we simply scale up as needed.

—Jaime Barba Sevillano, Head of Customers, Invoicing and IT, Global Omnium

Transformation story

Pooling information to form a data lake

To achieve maximum flexibility, Global Omnium chose to deploy its SAP landscape and its Nexus Integra solution on IBM Cloud bare metal servers certified for SAP applications, combined with IBM Cloud for VMware Solutions to provision and manage virtual servers to run the SAP HANA databases. Since Global Omnium used VMware to virtualize the previous on-premises infrastructure supporting its SAP environment, harnessing VMware for the target landscape helped the company complete the migration smoothly and swiftly.

With the SAP applications safely migrated to the IBM Cloud, Global Omnium uses the sensor technology to increase its understanding of its systems. For example, by examining historic and current asset status, the company can detect when equipment is likely to break – such as a pipe bursting from corrosion – and repair or replace the relevant items before the failure occurs.

To form a rich pool of information for analysis, Global Omnium collects data from its SAP applications, sensors and other systems in a data lake built on SAP Business Warehouse powered by SAP HANA. To query the data lake, the company relies on SAP BusinessObjects™ powered by SAP HANA.

Jaime Barba Sevillano, Head of Customers, Invoicing and IT at Global Omnium, explains: “As we undergo our digital transformation, we don’t know exactly what our business will look like in the next five or ten years, so we need maximum flexibility. Moving our SAP ERP applications to IBM Cloud bare metal servers enables us to select the best-fit solution for our business now, with the flexibility to grow and change in the future.

“For example, as we collect valuable data about our water-supply network, our SAP HANA databases are growing fast. With an on-premises infrastructure, rapid, unexpected growth could have caused all kinds of headaches, but with IBM Cloud we simply scale up as needed.

“One of our top concerns about moving to the cloud is data security. IBM listened carefully to our requirements, and we felt the IBM Cloud offered the most secure solution. Furthermore, by creating a data lake in the cloud, hundreds of staff gain secure access to detailed, accurate, up-to-the-minute information to support their decision-making, helping to provide fast, correct answers to customer inquiries.”

With SAP applications powered by SAP HANA running in IBM Cloud, we have the capability, flexibility and scalability to launch new initiatives that will further drive cost efficiency and improve customer service.

—Jaime Barba Sevillano, Head of Customers, Invoicing and IT, Global Omnium

Results story

Streams of precious insight

Transitioning its SAP applications to SAP HANA and to the IBM Cloud has enabled Global Omnium to cut IT costs by 15 percent and free up IT personnel. For example, after Global Omnium switched its SAP environment to IBM Cloud bare metal servers, staff who previously managed the on-premises architecture can now focus on the value-added insight available from the SAP applications.

This rich insight from IoT sensors, Nexus Integra and SAP applications helps Global Omnium to optimize drinking-water production to suit demand while streamlining operations. The company is starting to see increased reliability of its water supplies and lower emergency maintenance costs, leading to enhanced competitive advantage.

Jaime Barba Sevillano concludes: “We have built automated algorithms that ensure we pump water to fill our reservoir only if energy falls below a certain price or if forecasted demand is above a certain level. By using cheaper energy where possible or when demand volumes make it commercially viable, we can provide a reliable supply of fresh drinking water to our customers at lower cost. In fact, we cut the cost of producing drinking water by between five and ten percent, saving around a million dollars per year.

“Migrating our SAP applications to IBM Cloud represents a key milestone on our digital transformation journey. With SAP applications powered by SAP HANA running in IBM Cloud, we have the capability, flexibility and scalability to launch new initiatives that will further drive cost efficiency and improve customer service.”

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About Global Omnium

Global Omnium manages the entire lifecycle of drinking water – including catchment, treatment and distribution – to three million citizens across several cities in Spain. Founded in 1890, the company employs 2,400 people.

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