Homogeneous IT Landscape Drives Andritz Growth

Andritz Headquarter in Graz, Austria (Photo: Andritz)

The Andritz Group is an international plant, systems, and services vendor for the pulp and paper, hydropower, steel, and other specialized industries (solid/liquid separation, feed, and biomass). The Group is headquartered in Graz, Austria, and has approximately 13,000 employees worldwide. Andritz operates production facilities, as well as service and sales companies, around the globe.

The company’s numerous international units are controlled from the Andritz Group’s headquarters in Graz, Austria. Over the course of an ongoing expansion which began in the early 1990s, Andritz acquired companies in the USA, Finland, Denmark, Holland, France, Germany, Canada, and Brazil.

One of the consequences of this rapid growth was a highly heterogeneous IT landscape made up of innumerable enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems and a vast number of local IT solutions. Moreover, the IT supported business processes at the local level each had their own individual structures and idiosyncrasies.

The Andritz Group not only assumed tens of thousands of customer and vendor master data records from the companies it acquired, but also inherited millions of material master data records. Although this was highly valuable information for the company, the different product descriptions, standardizations, physical and chemical properties, and countless duplications made harmonizing business processes one of the company’s greatest challenges.

Aligning business processes

The challenge for the Andritz Group was to standardize, automate, and scale the IT supported business processes on an international level. This task requires reliable master data that must be recorded, standardized, and harmonized within the various business areas (product homes).

In the future, global processes will be defined based on a unified data model. An increasing number of Andritz companies will be integrated successively into the global ERP system in Graz by January 2013.

Defining a master data template

A global template definition, based on SAP ERP, was developed to manage the master data. This initially mapped the macro business processes, and later included subprocesses. Master data management has been implemented step by step as part of the SAP ERP implementation. The design and implementation was handled by S&T, together with the Austrian consultancy firm CNT and the Andritz Group.

Eliminating and avoiding duplications

Membrane Filter Press for Sludge Dewatering (Photo: Andritz)

The goal of master data harmonization is to ensure that for each material master there is only a single, valid master data record worldwide. This is achieved by means of harmonized material texts that identify existing duplications and avoid the creation of new ones.

For this purpose, the material properties and the different international standardizations were recorded for the materials first. After worldwide harmonization, the Andritz Standard Text (AST) and the Andritz Material Code (AMC) were mapped in SAP ERP.

1st challenge: Location-specific data models

At Andritz, the complex task of master data management is essentially influenced by the applicable business model, the data history, and the business management/technical concepts of the various locations, business areas, or companies purchased. For example, a single product may be a “complex drawing part” in one context, but “simple merchandise” in another. Particularly old designs, which are tied to a specific business model, often cause major problems.

The size and type of location are also decisive factors for the data concept:

  • For a manufacturing location that produces specialized machines, the specific strategy for data preparation focuses more on the stock of finished goods and on new products.
  • In the case of sites that produce large plant components, emphasis is placed on customer orders that must be processed at the SAP productive startup, including the subordinate bills of material.
  • For service locations, the focus is on the finished-goods warehouse and the current range of spare parts.

2nd challenge: Master data management and SAP rollout

Master data management exerts a strong influence on the project procedure, particularly during the implementation of SAP solutions. To ensure the smooth operation of a master data project, stable and suitable SAP templates for the local rollout are required.

To avoid short-term peak loads, this subproject has to be started early. This can, however, lead to a dilemma: An SAP master data concept that is globally valid and embedded in the operative SAP processes can only be implemented on the basis of stable SAP processes. Yet doing so at this point in the project may be either too late for the preparation and migration of bills of material and technical drawings, or will lead to peak loads for the project team at rollout.

Andritz solved this challenge by defining technical material data that could be cleansed at the outset of the project.

3rd challenge: Organizing the master data management

During the global SAP template project, the master data concept was driven by an IT project manager. After the first rollout, workshops were held to discuss the options for organizing master data management. As a result, the participants determined that global master data management ultimately fell into the responsibility area of senior management. This is also what drove the Andritz Group’s decision to place the global coordination of master data management into the hands of a global process owner (GPO).

Because once standardized master data management has been achieved, bills of material can be truly globally interchangeable, enabling them to be used at different production locations without any revision.

It is possible: harmonious, less complex processes

In the mean time, Andritz companies in Finland, Denmark, and China, as well as the firm’s first locations in the US and Germany, are working with the harmonized processes and master data. Before the project actually started, a special task force reviewed the performance and degree of coverage of SAP ERP using an ERP prototype.

Initially, the focus was on the macro processes like finance, engineering, lifecycle management, and project and order processing, as well as after-sales service. In the subsequent business blueprint (business process request documentation), the upstream and downstream subprocesses were also defined, such as operative procurement, and logistical and production procedures. The global SAP template was then implemented.

In this way, Andritz continues to keep the SAP project under control at all times.