Automotive supplier improves efficiency of IT estate by increasing SAP standardisation

Vehicle cooling systems manufacturer Modine Europe has one of the most efficient SAP estates across all industries, according to the results of a benchmarking exercise.

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Vehicle cooling systems manufacturer Modine Europe has one of the most efficient SAP estates across all industries, according to the results of a benchmarking exercise.

“For 10 years now, we have benchmarked ourselves with regard to IT costs,” said Kurt Trillsam, IT director of Modine Europe.

“I like to know how standardised we are, what our performance scores are like and how healthy our system is.”

Some 1,300 staff at Modine use SAP, including SAP’s ERP, version ECC 6.0 EHP 6, Business Intelligence (BI) and PLM (product lifecycle management) tools.

When the company first implemented SAP in 1998, it wanted to have “standard SAP wherever possible”. There were a few customisations made in Austria, China and India to plant-specific or local processes, and Trillsam’s IT team also wrote some programmes to make the software easier to use, to “increase the acceptance of SAP”.

Benchmarking

Wanting to get an idea of how efficient the SAP estate was, last year, Trillsam brought in West Trax, which analyses and measures the efficiency of SAP implementations, to look at Modine’s systems.

West Trax ran a half-hour analysis of SAP transaction data from May through July, looking at the degree of standardisation and percentage of custom developments and at how many of these are actually used. It revealed that Modine had 550 unused transactions, out of a total 1,400, and provided Modine with a score of 81.8 percent for its level of SAP standardisation.

According to West Trax, this score was close to the automotive sector’s top score of 83.6 percent and greater than the average automotive industry score of 61. 2 percent.

It was also a 25 percent improvement on the last time West Trax analysed Modine’s estate - it scored 56 percent in 2006. Trillsam hopes to run the analysis more frequently, every five or six years, in future, to maintain control of costs.

Cutting customisation costs

Identifying the unused transactions has enabled Modine to consider cutting the applications it no longer needs. Some of the apps were related to processes that were no longer required and to plants that had since closed down. One hundred of the transactions were from before Modine switched to SAP Business Warehouse, “when we were still creating reports using Report Painter,” Trillsam said.

It has also helped the IT director be more critical about requests for custom applications, as the analysis revealed ‘crucial’ bespoke apps that had been demanded from the IT department were used just a handful of times over several years.

“Without the figures from such a study, it is often difficult to show management where the company’s own IT unit stands,” he said.

Optimum response times

Trillsam manages an 18-strong IT team, comprising 11 SAP specialists and seven infrastructure specialists, based in Modine’s European headquarters in Filderstadt, Germany.

Its infrastructure includes two SAP mirrors from Libelle in different locations for disaster recovery purposes, 180 Windows servers, mainly blade servers in a VMware environment, 80 SAP servers and 1,400 PCs. It also has an Oracle 11.x database, while its SAN comprises HP EVA and HP 3Par storage.

In addition, Modine runs Windows 2008 R2, Windows 7, Linux, and uses Microsoft Office 2010, Exchange 2010 and Sharepoint.

As well as measuring the standardisation level at Modine, West Trax looked at the response times of the company’s customised applications. In the automotive industry, 13 percent of custom programmes have response times of more than a minute. However, the figure at Modine was just three percent.

Trillsam attributed this to “structured programming, close to the SAP standard” and a “fast environment”.

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