combination of a hybrid network and an SAP implementation
across all its locations has enabled OCPL to grow from
Rs 400 million in its first year of operations to a
Rs 3,710 million company in 2000-2001. by Mahesh
on image for larger view
its chosen path of aggressive growth, through investment
in expansion of product range and manufacturing facilities,
Chennai based Orchid Chemicals and Pharmaceuticals Limited
(OCPL), has grown from a single manufacturing location
in 1994 to a multi-location company today. In 1997,
an in-house business application called Inventory Accounting
System/Financial Accounting System (IAS/FAS) was developed
keeping in mind the single location of OCPL. This application
was used for capturing data of activities at the manufacturing
facility at Alathur and at the head office. While this
solution ensured that the company's business remained
unaffected, the power of data integration between multi
locations was not available. The architecture of IAS/FAS
was such that, the two systems could not be linked.
Since time was short, it was decided that a standard
and totally integrated Enterprise Resource Planning
(ERP) application would be implemented. OCPL implemented
SAP in six months.
The Early Days
Initially OCPL started of with a 10BaseT Local Area
Network consisting of BNC, UTP & Thick Ethernet,
in 1995, at the Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (API)
plant at Alathur and at the head office. At the same
time a team of 18 software engineers was formed to develop
the GUI based IAS/FAS application to automate the various
business processes of OCPL.
The application was ready for use in 1997 and was installed
at both locations.
Says Raghu Ram N.C, general manager, IT, OCPL, "while
the company's business was running smoothly with the
IAS/FAS, there were many disadvantages due to its deployment.
Firstly both IAS/FAS were disparate systems and data
between the two systems was transferred through FTP.
Data from one location to another was uploaded through
digital audio tapes (DATs). Now this was not a standard
and foolproof practice." In 1998, a radio link
was established between the head office and the manufacturing
facility at Alathur for communications.
Due to the rapid growth of the company, the number of
nodes rose from approximately 50 to over 175. As the
nodes were widespread, the response of the nodes during
interaction with end users was very slow on the 10BaseT
along with the company's policy of operating with cutting
edge technology, and feeling that the current IT infrastructure
did not support multi-location operations, we undertook
a total revamp of our computer technology in 2000,"
says Raghu Ram.
The structured approach
Since OCPL was a multi location company by 2000, it
started revamping its LANs. New structured cabling solutions
from Krone Communications were installed across all
its locations. The desktops used in OCPL are mainly
HP and IBM based P-III and P-IV machines, and the servers
are HP L 2000 Unix Servers and HP LH netservers for
applications like ERP, mailing, intranet and the Internet.
Rathna Communications, a Chennai based system integrator
was handed the job of doing the local area network integration.
The following enhancements were made:
Head Office: Consists of a 325 node Krone Premisnet
structured cabling UTP network. Active components
used are 10 D-link switches and 10 D-link 10BaseT
Alathur API Plant: Consists of a 225 node Krone
Premisnet structured cabling switched network of OFC
running up to 2 Kms & UTP cables running up to
10 Kms. Active components used are 10 Nortel Networks
Baystack 450 switches.
Alathur FDF Plant:
Consists of a 50 node Krone Premisnet structured cabling
switched network of OFC & UTP cables. Active components
used are 3 Nortel Networks Baystack 450 switches.
R&D Centre: Consists of a 100 node Krone
Premisnet structured cabling UTP network. Active
components used are 10 D-link 10BaseT hubs.
Aurangabad API Plant: Consists of a 75 node
structured cabling switched network of OFC & UTP
cables. Active components used are 6 Nortel Networks
Baystack 450 switches.
Across the border line
The wide area network at OCPL is a hybrid system. It
uses a combination of VSATs, leased lines, ISDN lines
and radio links for connectivity. The head office at
Chennai is connected to the Alathur API plant with a
64 Kbps VSAT PAMA link, and is backed up by an ISDN
dial up access. The R&D centre and the plant at
Aurangabad are connected to the head office by a 64
Kbps leased line and are backed up with ISDN dial up
access. Connectivity between the plants at Alathur API
& Alathur FDF is through a 11 Mbps radio link. The
installation of the wide area network was done by HCL
The optical way
head office at Chennai consists of two buildings which
are located across a busy main road. To connect both
the buildings, OPCL tried out various options. "We
initially looked at an HDSL 2 Mbps local loop connection.
The problem with this solution was the recurring cost,
laying cables for 4 Kms because digging across the road
was not permitted and throughput was low. "After
a rigorous evaluation of various solutions from vendors,
we decided to go in for the Optical Access - Infrared
Terescope Etherlink solution from Krone Communications
at the cost of Rs 3.5 lakhs," says Gopinath, systems
The optical access solution works on the principle of
free space optics and aims at providing last mile connectivity.
"Optical access works only if the line of sight
is available between the two locations to be connected,
and it performs well under all climatic conditions.
This solution is easy to deploy, manage and requires
very little maintenance," says Nikhil, country
sales manager, AccessNet, Krone Communications. At OPCL,
two Infrared Terescopes were installed, one on each
of the buildings,
providing a 100 meter link, with a
throughput of 10 Mbps. "The optical solution was
up and running in an hour and the only maintenance required
is to clean the Terescopes lens once a while,"
Business with SAP
extensive evaluation of five ERP solutions, OCPL decided
to implement SAP. "The end users at OCPL drew up
the functional requirements of the company and formed
a statistical model. We valued all the ERP products
and found that SAP best suited the statistical model
and our multi location business processes," says
Raghu Ram. He further added that SAP is very well suited
for a manufacturing company like OCPL and it helps in
information based decisions.
OCPL implemented SAP R/3 version 4.6C in a record time
of 6 months. The SAP modules implemented were Finance,
Controlling, Sales & Distribution, Process Production
for Process Industry, Plant Maintenance, Quality Management,
Material Management, Project Systems, Human Resources
A proud Raghu Ram says "OCPL is one of the few
companies in India to have implemented all modules of
SAP, in all locations of the company simultaneously
in record time. This is known as the big bang approach".
SAP has enabled OCPL to completely integrate all its
business functions and has ensured transparency and
availability of the right data, to the right person,
at the right time.
The road ahead
OCPL has drawn up a road map for the next two years
for deploying enterprise-wide applications like Supply
Chain Management, Customer Relationship Manage-ment,
Knowledge Management and Manufacturing Execution Systems.
"The IT infrastructure will be improved and will
be maintained on par with the relevant technologies
from time to time. The hardware and networking infrastructure
will be further strengthened and enhanced in line with
investment in Enterprise-wide applications," says
Raghu Ram. The company also has plans to go live with
its B2B and B2C portal www.healthorchid.com.
IT has enabled OCPL to make the leap from an intuitive
decision making process to an interactive and information
based decision making process, hence improving not only
the efficiency of decision making but also the quality
of the decisions.
Company: Orchid Chemicals and Pharmaceuticals Limited
(OCPL) is a multi location company with headquarters
at Chennai, manufacturing plants in three locations
and an R&D centre. The company is into manufacturing
of Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (API) and Full
Dosage Forms (FDF).
The Need: The company needed a solution to support
their multi location business operations using data
The Solution: Fusion of various wide area networking
technologies, along with structured LANs, optical MANs
and the power of SAP at all the sites of OCPL.
The Benefits: The new solution allows data to
be integrated easily and permits multi location business
functions to be carried out. Communications among all
the locations has become cheaper with the installation
of the wide area network.
Rathod can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org