A complete SAP implementation in itself provides a sizeable challenge. It’s even more difficult if you’re in the middle of a corporate takeover. American automotive supplier Behr Dayton, based in Dayton, Ohio, which was acquired from DaimlerChrysler by the Behr Group, took just eleven months to complete this challenge. The company extracted the entire body of data from the IT landscape of its erstwhile parent, constructed several new divisions and integrated an external logistics supplier. Since November 2003, the plant, which produces air-conditioning equipment and engine cooling systems, has been using SAP R/3 4.6C together with the SAP for Automotive industry solution.
Behr Dayton Thermal Products LLC is the largest plant of Behr America, the US subsidiary of Stuttgart-based Behr GmbH & Co. KG. Behr acquired former DaimlerChrysler subsidiary Dayton Thermal Products in 2002, after which it ran the company together with DaimlerChrysler in a two-year joint venture phase. This transitional period was necessary in order to separate the plant’s organization and technical systems from its erstwhile parent company and integrate these into the new Group. Up to that point, the DaimlerChrysler Corp. in Auburn Hills had managed key business processes centrally. This meant that Dayton Thermal Products never had its own purchasing department or HR, accounting and controlling functions. The IT structure was correspondingly lean. The plant was mainly serviced by DaimlerChrysler’s central systems and used only a handful of its own applications, for example for maintaining the machinery.
Forerunner of a central system for all sites
This meant that Behr had to construct a complete IT environment and build up devoted organizational structures and business processes for the subsidiary. The automotive supplier has worked since the start of 2001 with SAP R/3 in Germany, initially using the HR functions, then in 2002 adding the Finance (FI), Controlling (CO), Materials Management (MM) and Project System (PS) modules. The enterprise also uses SAP Business Information Warehouse (SAP BW). The company’s to date five American sites are all connected to the FI, CO, PS and MM functions of the central ERP environment.
Behr decided to equip the new factory in Dayton with the complete SAP R/3 including the industry solution SAP for Automotive. In contrast to the other American sites, which up till that point had been using a third-party logistics application, the full range of functions was to be deployed in Dayton. Since Behr has defined the implementation of SAP logistics for the entire Group as a strategic goal, it made sense to bring the new plant in the USA up to date from day one. The fully integrated solution also spared the company costly interface maintenance. The plan is to gradually introduce the integrated SAP system to all of the Behr Group’s sites.
Data transfer as a challenge
One of the greatest challenges the SAP project faced at Behr Dayton was transferring data from DaimlerChrysler’s IT landscape. The automotive Group uses around 40 applications to supply data to all American sites centrally from Auburn Hills. For the project team, this meant specifying which data was relevant for Dayton Thermal Products, extracting this data from the DaimlerChrysler applications, storing it in an intermediary database, cleaning it up, and finally migrating it into the SAP solution. To do this, specialists from Behr in Germany and the USA worked in close collaboration with their counterparts from DaimlerChrysler. External support came from IT service provider itelligence, which had implemented the SAP functions at Behr’s other American sites in 2002, and EDI (Electronic Data Exchange) specialist WSW Software GmbH, which integrated the sales processes into the solution.
Given the myriad of source systems, which included SAP solutions, mainframe applications and in-house developments, data transfer became an extensive project in its own right. The heterogeneous nature of the IT landscape made data inconsistencies inevitable, and the project team was kept busy cleaning the data for months on end. The sheer amount of data also kept the team busy. In the case of air-conditioning systems especially, the bills of materials were extremely complex, containing numerous purchased parts, sometimes from different suppliers.
An added difficulty was that a professional purchasing department had to be built up parallel to the SAP project. This meant that staff, some of them newly employed, not only had to learn the SAP solutions, they also had in a relatively short time to get to know 300 suppliers, their purchased parts, and the purchasing procedures in the Behr Group.
Connecting up 300 suppliers
A second major task alongside data transfer was to connect up a total of 15 customers, including DaimlerChrysler, Siemens VDO, Mitsubishi and Tesma, and the 300 suppliers by EDI and Web EDI. To this end, WSW developed and tested more than 50 different mappings, including the US specifics of EDI. Among others, the message types of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) had to be integrated into the SAP solution with the corresponding processes such that business procedures are performed more or less automatically. Alongside EDI messages familiar in Germany such as the delivery request and “fine request” (VDA 4905/4915) or delivery note (VDA 4913), additional messages such as the functional acknowledgement (997), application advice (824) and receiving advice (861) had to be integrated into SAP R/3.
In Europe, EDI data is transferred using Odette File Transfer Protocol (OFTP) and the sender automatically receives a confirmation of receipt. The transfer standard in the USA is File Transfer Protocol (FTP), where receipt of messages must be confirmed via an EDI message (ANSI X12 997). This leads to a mass of additional EDI messages and information which must be made available to the designated staff in their SAP applications. If, for example, a delivery is dispatched to a customer in SAP, the customer receives an electronic delivery note notifying of this, known in the USA as an Advanced Ship Note (ASN). The customer confirms receipt of the message using functional acknowledgement 997. However, if the customer rejects the delivery note because it contains errors, for example the order or customer material number is wrong, notification is sent using application advice 824. The supplier then has to send a corrected ASN to the customer within 30 minutes.
EDI integration made easy
Behr chose SPEEDI software from WSW to integrate and manage EDI data traffic. The SAP add-on supports EDI integration and checks whether messages have the correct content and are complete. In the event of errors, it sends notifications via e-mail or workflow. SPEEDI Alert Management checks incoming messages for extreme call-off fluctuations or changed key data. This also applies for the receipt confirmations and error messages to the ASNs sent by Behr. If error messages occur, the solution alarms the member of staff responsible, who can then quickly send a correct ASN to the partner by entering a few data parameters.
The SPEEDI infrastructure also supports many EDI-like processes in the SAP solution. It augments outgoing ASNs with the additional data required for the USA business, such as routing instructions or time zone conversions. For incoming ASNs, SPEEDI identifies the expected time of delivery, thus supporting material planning, goods incoming and sales.
Since November 2003, Behr Dayton has been working with new business processes and IT structures completely independently of DaimlerChrysler. The company, newly equipped with its own purchasing, controlling and HR departments, is connected to the Behr Group by an integrated SAP solution. SAP for Automotive covers the specific business processes for the automotive industry and helps the plant get its products onto the market quicker, deliver to customers on time and react rapidly to change. At the same time, the entire Behr Group is benefiting from the increasing global transparency. Standardized business processes and a common database support Behr in its strategic decision-making.