combination of a hybrid network and a SAP implementation
across all its locations has enabled OCPL to grow rapidly.
by Mahesh Rathod
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 multiple 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.
Orchid Chemicals and Pharmaceuticals Limited
(OCPL) is a multi-location company with headquarters
at Chennai, manufacturing plants in three locations
and an R&D center. The company is into manufacturing
of Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (API) and
Full Dosage Forms (FDF).
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
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.
on image for larger view
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
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
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
LAN. "Moving along with the company's policy of
operating with cutting edge technology, and realizing
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 Pentium III and Pentium 4 machines,
and the servers are HP L2000 Unix Servers and HP LH
Netservers for applications like ERP, mailing, intranet
and the Internet. Rathna Communications, a Chennai-based
system integrator was selected for the local area network
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
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
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 Center: 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
ACROSS THE BORDER LINE
The WAN 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 64K VSAT PAMA link,
and is backed up by an ISDN dial-up access. The R&D
center 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 an
11 Mbps radio link. The installation of the WAN was
done by HCL Comnet.
THE OPTICAL WAY
The 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 lakh," 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.
optical solution was up and running in an hour and the
only maintenance required is to clean the Terescope's
lens once in a while," adds Gopinath.
BUSINESS WITH SAP
After 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 six 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 Management,
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.
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