Requirements-Based Planning and More Liquidity

Feature Article | September 19, 2007 by admin

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SPHEROS Group specializes in the development and manufacture of air conditioning, heating, and hatches for well-known bus manufacturers like Neoplan, Scania, and Setra. The rapidly growing midsize company was created from the bus division of the Webasto Group as part of a carve-out. “As an independent company, we can act more flexibly to strengthen and improve our position in the market,” says Jens H. Arnold, CEO of SPHEROS.

A new IT infrastructure needed

Because of the split, the midsize company had to set up a completely new IT infrastructure (PCs, networks, and server landscape) across its international locations and implement a new enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution. SPHEROS looked for an implementation and consulting partner that could also handle an international rollout.
After a brief – but intensive – selection process, SPHEROS decided on applied international informatics GmbH & Co. KG. One deciding factor was the provider’s design for the development, setup, and rollout of new client hardware and an outsourced WAN network with server operations. Another factor was that the qualified SAP All-in-One partner solution that ai informatics offered for automotive suppliers, SPEED AS, featured the required industry competence.

IT in outsourcing

As the first step, the consultants from ai informatics set up the required infrastructure and simultaneously implemented SPEED AS at SPHEROS locations in Germany and France. About four months later, at the beginning of January 2007, the automobile supplier began operations of financials, accounting, and HR in Germany and France. The production processes in both locations followed in mid-April 2007. “We implemented the industry solution within four to seven months, and, for the most part, at the agreed-upon price,” says Arnold.
SPHEROS economically outsourced operation of SPEED AS to the computer center of ai informatics. The center monitors operations, secures data, updates the software, performs release upgrades, and handles all administrative and maintenance tasks. SPHEROS can then concentrate on its core competency: making the best-possible products for its customers.

Automated intercompany processes

The advantages of the integrated solution became apparent soon after the go-live. Information on orders, tasks, and billing is entered decentrally, but managed and distributed centrally. That approach creates a clear and transparent view of all data.
Thanks to this consolidated base of data, intercompany processes today run automatically for the most part, which accelerates internal order processes. The company can also see exactly when and in what quantity individual production locations need parts and materials. “We can use the information to shorten our throughput and delivery times and to improve on-time deliveries to our customers,” says Arnold.

Efficiency in the warehouse

The midsize company also uses SPEED AS to manage all order and material planning, along with all procurement, production, and warehouse processes – and does so based on requirements. That means that it improves productivity and lowers storage costs.
For example, the plant in Neubrandenburg, Germany was able to produce 250 heating units in one day just a few days after the go-live. It used to produce 150 units per day. In the first three months of operations, storage costs in the warehouse were reduced by a double-digit percentage. It’s not just a matter of needing less warehouse space. Less capital is tied up, so SPHEROS enjoys greater liquidity.

Consistent expansion of IT

Management also has an up-to-date view of financial data and reports at a single mouse click, so it can better control its business processes. Arnold is convinced, “that with the implementation of the qualified SAP All-in-One partner solution, we have set the course for further growth.”
SPHEORS is moving ahead consistently. The midsize company plans to unify additional companies under the IT umbrella of SPEED AS successively. The company plans to go live with its operations in Turkey in September 2007. SPHEROS will also intensify collaboration with vendors via electronic data interchange (EDI).

Dr. Andreas Schaffry

Dr. Andreas Schaffry

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