With ambitious plans to improve energy efficiency, enhance manufacturing yield, improve quality, and raise throughput, India Glycols realized that its inflexible infrastructure was not up to the task.
By implementing SAP S/4HANA on IBM Power Systems H922, India Glycols is completing a digital transformation ready for RPA- and AI-powered analytics to drive an integrated, automated, efficient future.
80%faster delivery of standard financial reports
91%reduction in time taken to retrieve order-to-pay reports, down from 12 minutes to 60 seconds
Criticalmaterials requirements planning information available daily
Business challenge story
Producing greener petrochemicals
India Glycols manufactures essential industrial feedstocks—the chemicals you may remember from school, such as ethers, acetates and alcohol. Starting from a single unit in 1983, the company has grown into a hugely successful exporter, based on production efficiency and innovation around a “green” path for manufacturing ethylene oxide, glycols, glycol ether, ethoxylates, formulations, linked specialty chemicals, guar gum, herbal pharma products, industrial gases and liquor.
The company operates manufacturing sites throughout India, while finance, procurement and management are handled centrally. For the group, understanding the business position relied on running standard financial processes, completing thousands of transactions daily, and executing materials requirements planning reports.
Accelerate slow reactions
India Glycols found that even regular tasks were taking progressively longer to conclude, as increased workload and older IT infrastructure took their toll. In a mobile, app-driven world, staff were surrounded by legacy screens. In short, with ambitious plans to improve energy efficiency and enhance manufacturing yield, India Glycols realized that its inflexible systems infrastructure was not up to the task.
Atul Govil, Chief Transformation Officer & Head (SAP & IT) at India Glycols, explains, “From a technology perspective, we had sweat the infrastructure assets for the SAP ERP solutions that drive our business for almost nine years—a phenomenal achievement—and they had reached the end of their useful life.
“During month-end closing and the execution of compute-intensive transactions, the legacy system had started giving us performance issues.
“For example, an essential materials requirements planning report was so compute-intensive that we simply could not run it during production time. Additionally, we were struggling with the backup time window, as the offline time was impacting our work. Besides system performance, the interface experience for our new generation of business users was poor.
“We knew that there were opportunities that we could seize around the Industrial Internet of Things [IIoT] to monitor our production and value stream more closely, consolidate our financial management, improve liquidity, enable employee performance management based on KPIs, and harness AI and RPA to increase productivity and deliver business insights on a near-real-time basis. It was clear that migrating from our existing SAP® ERP applications to SAP S/4HANA would create the ideal foundation to enable these innovations.
“With every passing day, system reliability was declining, and we calculated that an outage of even an hour would be more costly than a likely refresh project. We wanted to increase our resilience, reduce our maintenance, and enable the process flexibility that would help us achieve our energy efficiency, yield, quality and throughput ambitions.”
Seeking new solutions
At that time, India Glycols relied on five legacy Intel Itanium-architecture servers to support its SAP ERP solutions. The company considered replicating these with more powerful Intel-based systems, or looking at new ways to run its operations. The team discovered that it could deploy the new SAP S/4HANA system and the production control applications to just two IBM Power Systems H922 servers.
To enable its SAP S/4HANA transformation, India Glycols selected identical IBM Power Systems H922 servers; the first server operates as a main production instance, while the second server hosts test, development and quality assurance environments. This configuration enables the company to complete essential administration tasks while retaining a permanent warm standby solution in case of outage.
IBM Systems Lab Services implemented and configured the IBM Power Systems servers, and India Glycols SAP and IT team managed the migration to the SAP S/4HANA system.
Atul Govil comments, “In practice, the like-for-like replacement would have required eight servers, to allow for SAP Fiori and other services.
“By selecting the IBM Power Systems platform, we can support the complete SAP solution landscape and related services with just two servers, greatly reducing complexity and shrinking capital and operational cost.
“We run the SAP S/4HANA system on SUSE Linux Enterprise Server for SAP Applications, and each IBM Power Systems server offers 20 POWER9 processors and 1280 GB of memory, scalable to 4 TB. By deploying IBM PowerVM® to create multiple virtual machines on each server, we can allocate processor capacity and memory to provide optimal performance—and of course we can scale these virtual machines as the workload changes. The IBM Systems Lab Services team went to great lengths to optimize our server configurations to ensure we could handle the current workload and to provide a future path for the next five years.
“IBM Systems Lab Services provided excellent input at every level, from steering a committee to the migration process itself. We were the first company I’m aware of to implement version 1809 of SAP S/4HANA in India, and IBM provided dedicated people who helped us achieve a great result, on time.”
Catalyzing business transformation
Implementing SAP S/4HANA on IBM Power Systems H922 represents a significant step in the digital transformation journey for India Glycols. The starting point is operational excellence, enabling essential processes.
Atul Govil takes up the story: “There were certain features in the former system that were effectively unusable because the infrastructure simply could not support the technical demands. With SAP S/4HANA on IBM Power Systems we can run MRP reports daily, at any time, which will help us streamline procurement, plan our cash flow and optimize manufacturing processes in a way simply not possible before.
“In addition, for many similar standard reports the execution time has improved by up to 80 percent. For example, order-to-pay reports that took 10-12 minutes now complete in less than a minute. Rather than staring at a screen waiting for an answer, time is released for productive work based on reliable data.”
Creating new synthesis
With core processes now part of business-as-usual, India Glycols is turning to the opportunities that SAP S/4HANA enables. With the former infrastructure, changing existing or creating new business processes was costly and slow and, in some cases, beyond the capacity of the systems.
With some 8,000 pre-built apps in the SAP Fiori library, India Glycols can select and implement tailored business processes rapidly and easily. The SAP Fiori apps present a modern GUI, a world away from the legacy green screens, and enable mobile working for India Glycols’ geographically dispersed workforce.
“In the past our procurement and sales order approvals processes were paper-based, and the documents contained relatively limited information,” says Atul Govil. “The SAP S/4HANA and SAP Fiori procurement and sales order processes allow us to enable mobile approvals, and managers can immediately drill down to examine the details. This offers business flexibility that did not exist before, and adds value to the approvals process.
“Similarly, we have already implemented financial apps to automate and accelerate our bank interactions. This gives us much faster insight into our cash position, helping us to manage liquidity and ensure we minimize our working capital requirements, and directing financial resources to drive the high-growth opportunities in the business.”
Accelerating insight to action
As part of business development, the India Glycols team also wanted to implement an enterprise-wide performance management system, based on key performance indicators (KPIs). Extracting data from the former solution proved to be a challenging task, and the cost and complexity of deploying real-time dashboards had stalled the project.
“With SAP S/4HANA supported by the performance of the IBM Power Systems servers, building a KPI-driven performance management solution is now a realistic, focused aim,” says Atul Govil. “Within six weeks of go-live we had started building our first KPI-linked dashboards, displaying real-time data. These will offer immediate insight into our business operations, helping us to step in early and ensure we operate at maximum efficiency.”
Leaner, greener results
Associated with the business management transformation, India Glycols is deploying a range of IIoT, robotic process automation (RPA) and artificial intelligence (AI) technologies. The ultimate aim is leaner, greener manufacturing capabilities that deliver improved energy efficiency, enhanced manufacturing yield, greater quality and increased throughput.
“For example, to manage our energy we are creating live consumption streams that show us when we are near thresholds, and even if the rate of change of a particular value is higher than what we expect, we can intervene and course correct in an interactive manner,” says Atul Govil.
“We will build an enterprise-wide view of manufacturing and our control systems, and extract data that we can analyze. To achieve this, you need robust central infrastructure with the capacity and flexibility to accept these new workloads, and IBM Power Systems provides that essential infrastructure foundation.
“With SAP S/4HANA enabling integrated financial and business processes, and as we collect significantly more production control data through our IIoT initiatives, our next steps will be to mine, analyze and understand that data.
“We are looking into IBM Watson capabilities for this, and with SAP S/4HANA and IBM Power Systems we will continue to grow our market position, increase sales and improve our environmental performance. The ongoing tech-led business transformation efforts are backed by the strong and enthused support of our CEO and CMD.”
About India Glycols
India Glycols, founded in 1983, manufactures green-technology based bulk, specialty and performance chemicals and natural gums, spirits, industrial gases, sugar and nutraceuticals. In the financial year 2018-19, the company achieved sales of INR 51.35 billion (USD 715 million), employing 1,343 people, in eight principal locations in India and offices worldwide.
Take the next step
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