Working Around the Clock

July 13, 2009 by Dirk Sonntag

Automotive component suppliers such as Progress-Werk Oberkirch (PWO) provide auto manufacturers like BMW and Mercedes-Benz with parts that are not produced in the large plants where the vehicles themselves are put together. Every day, cars that roll off assembly lines in Stuttgart or Munich contain parts that left the supplier’s site only hours before and only reached the plant in the nick of time – or “just in time” (JIT), to be precise. JIT delivery must work smoothly – otherwise the entire supply chain will quickly grind to a halt.

To continue managing processes from development and procurement through production and sales or shipping with the help of IT, PWO – which is headquartered in southwestern Germany – opted for SAP Business All-in-One for Automotive.

The SAP solution comprises the following components:

Because business processes in the automotive industry are closely dovetailed, resources have to be assigned precisely and small component suppliers need to be hooked up at a reasonable price. Purchase transactions and forecast delivery schedules are processed electronically by:

  • SAP NetWeaver BW, which supplies many individual interfaces
  • SAP portal applications (Supply Web, e-procurement)
  • SAP NetWeaver PI for the actual exchange of business data (using EDI)

Battery Cluster at Progress-Werk Oberkirch (photo: All for One Midmarket AG)

Outsourcing IT systems

Specialist knowledge, resources, and staff are required to get the sizing right for all systems and components, set up myriad subsystems, and – above all – keep operations running on a day-to-day basis.

That’s why PWO commissioned SAP full service provider All for One Midmarket to take care of implementing, optimizing, and maintaining the SAP software, and also to ensure technical operations. As an SAP partner, All for One provides complete industry software solutions tailored especially to the automotive sector. Furthermore, the company also offers outsourcing through its managed service center. This means that PWO’s enterprise software solution – including all of its systems – is located centrally at the All for One data center in the German city of Frankfurt am Main, where it is managed by the SAP partner. PWO no longer has to take charge of operations itself – All for One provides the service 24/7. What’s more, the EDI application A is also run by All for One’s application management service.

As a result, PWO not only outsourced technical operations but also handed over the entire application management for its electronic data interchange to the external service provider.

IT operations continue in the managed service center even if the power supply is interrupted – thanks to the diesel-operated emergency power system. (photo: All for One Midmarket)

Transcending national boundaries

What began as an implementation service in the form of temporary outsourcing during the implementation project is now an integral part of PWO’s IT strategy. Having all SAP systems located at the managed service center not only benefits the 600 users in Germany, but also makes life easier for PWO employees in China and Mexico. Separate operating environments for SAP no longer have to be set up outside Germany. And an added bonus is that the different time zones in Germany, Mexico, and China are now irrelevant, because the managed service center works round the clock.

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