Adapting ERP at SCL
Sundaram-Clayton wanted to improve its ERP system's responsiveness,
so it deployed an adaptive infrastructure environment. Today, it enjoys higher
levels of performance. by Soutiman Das Gupta
Automobile component manufacturer Sundaram-Clayton (SCL) wanted to squeeze
the maximum from its ERP system. To do this, it built its ERP atop an architecture
that supported high levels of reliability, stability, and scalability.
After much planning and evaluation, CIO T G Dhandapani adopted an adaptive infrastructure
model. Today, SCL's SAP R/3 runs on this architecture offering superior performance
and greater responsiveness.
Business at SCL
Belonging to the TVS group of companies, one of India's largest automotive component
manufacturing and distributing groups, SCL has two divisionsthe Brakes
and Die-casting divisions. The company's corporate office is in Chennai; it
has three manufacturing units (two in Chennai and one in Hosur), a warehouse
in Bangalore, registered offices, area offices and sales representatives at
various locations nationwide.
To be a global player and agile enough to adapt to dynamic business scenarios,
the company had to overcome the following challenges:
All manufacturing units and stocking points had to be linked with the ERP system
and the various processes in the business units had to be integrated.
The business processes across group companies had to be standardised
and response times had to be faster. Transaction costs had to be reduced by
bringing suppliers and customers closer through the Internet.
The old and the new
To overcome these challenges, the company decided to replace its existing Baan
ERP system that ran on an IBM RS6000 platform with a new scalable enterprise
system to support its projected growth. After evaluating various ERP solutions
in 2000, SCL decided upon SAP R/3 in TVS Motor (another TVS group company),
and implemented it in August 2001.
After its successful deployment, Dhandapani, who had been the SAP implementation
Project Head at TVS Motor, made a strategic decision to standardise the IT base
onto SAP across SCL group companies. He deployed SAP R/3 across the remaining
group companies in September 2003, and created an in-house SAP management team
staffed by personnel from SCL and TVS Motor. At this point Dhandapani felt that
the conventional method of deploying applications on existing servers would
not do. The ERP had to run on an intelligent platform providing high levels
of reliability, scalability, security and be responsive. The infrastructure
had to host transactions for four companies in seven different manufacturing
locations, out of which two ran 24x7.
SCL set about evaluating an appropriate IT architecture from solution providers
such as HP and IBM. "The evaluation was based on techno-commercial matrices
which looked at the performance of the solution versus the cost," explained
Dhandapani. "We also used tools provided by SAP to generate operating values
specific to our business environment, he added.
These values were converged to numeric values, which were then matched to SAP
requirement values for various services. The interested solution providers were
asked to make presentations and were evaluated for conformity to the SAP values,
planned architectures robustness, performance and scalability factors,
support, and solution cost.
SCL finally chose Hewlett-Packard (HP) based on the evaluation
T G Dhandapani, CIO, Sundaram
"Since the company aimed to become more capable and ready
to evolve according to the changing market conditions in the near and long term,
we decided to deploy the adaptive enterprise infrastructure approach,"
The solution was based on HP's Intel Itanium 2-powered Integrity servers. Each
dual processor server enables the architecture to support No Single Point of
Failure (NSPoF) and ensures maximum system uptime.
The servers offer multi-OS compatibility, allowing standardisation of IT infrastructure
on a single platform. Intelligent software allows clustering functions and makes
the infrastructure adaptive to application needs.
The cost of setting up two sets of servers for the two business divisions was
around Rs 1.8 crore.
Design and Management
The basic design ensures that the application tier can enable new offerings
to be introduced at short notice and be completely integrated with performance
on the Oracle database.
Infrastructure reliability is also due to the fact that the 2-way servers are
clustered. As soon as CPU usage hits a pre-set threshold, the system is designed
to send an SMS message to the system administrator. HP OpenView is used to manage
the network and SAP's solution manager to monitor application performance.
HP provided technical consultation, pre-implementation support, and also collaborated
with the SCL SAP team to work on-site and offer post-implementation support.
The development server, which ran IBM AIX had to be migrated to the HP Itanium
platform. Clustering the servers took some work.
Adapting for the better
Around 150 staff of SCL access the new set-up and another 100 will be added
as SAP goes live in two more companies and four manufacturing units in Hosur
and Pune. "The transaction time has reduced by almost a third," declared
For example, the Material Transfer Request (MTR) generation which consisted
of eight processes took 773 seconds (almost 13 minutes) earlier. Now, MTR generation
can be done with only two processes, and takes a total time of 20 seconds. This
is a time reduction of almost 98 percent.
Dhandapani said, "The IT infrastructure has become very reliable and availability
is high since the clustering applications reduces downtime. This helps us fully
utilise the benefits of ERP. The architecture is easy to scale since an increased
workload in the future will only need incremental addition of hardware."
SCL wants to continue utilising its adaptive infrastructure, making incremental
hardware additions when necessary. It will shortly deploy SAP modules for HR
and the Project System.
Soutiman Das Gupta can be reached at email@example.com