Published on 06-Jul-2011
Validated on 07 Jan 2013
"The IBM technologies effectively give us a private cloud: a set of standard components that we can orchestrate to achieve whatever goals we have. Both the IBM hardware and the SAP software ensure that we never come up against any barriers when designing and executing our business processes. " - Carsten Kübler, Head of Infrastructure, TKES
ThyssenKrupp Electrical Steel
IT/infrastructure, Business Continuity, Business Resiliency, Enabling Business Flexibility, Enterprise Resource Planning, Information Infrastructure, Infrastructure Simplification, Optimizing IT, Optimizing IT, Virtualization
IBM Business Partner:
ThyssenKrupp Electrical Steel (TKES) is part of the Materials division of the major industrial firm ThyssenKrupp AG, which generated sales of €42.6 billion in the 2009/2010 fiscal year, and which has approximately 177,000 employees in more than 80 countries. TKES is a leading global manufacturer of grain-oriented and non-oriented high-tech electrical steel. This core material is used throughout the entire value chain of the electrical energy components industry, from power generation, transmission and distribution to electric motors and appliances.
To meet the demands of its growing international business in an efficient and cost-effective way, ThyssenKrupp Electrical Steel (TKES) needed to standardize its production, business control and financial systems. The ultimate goals were to be able to optimize business and manufacturing operations using a standardized approach at all locations, and to provide consistent reporting on production and finance - regardless of location. This would require powerful, highly integrated ERP and shopfloor solutions running on a reliable, high-performance platform.
Working with IBM and SAP, TKES extended its existing SAP and PSImetals landscape to four additional locations, and implemented SAP Advance Planning and Optimization. Business processes were extensively re-engineered to enable greater harmonization of operational activities across the company. TKES runs its SAP Business Suite applications on IBM Power 770, IBM Power 570 and IBM BladeCenter HS22 servers, with IBM System Storage DS5300 disk storage and IBM System Storage TS3310 Tape Library for backup and archive.
With standardized business processes and user interfaces, the SAP solutions enable highly efficient and responsive control over operations, with all reporting from a single version of the truth. The flexible and highly scalable IBM infrastructure offers extremely high availability to support round-the-clock manufacturing operations. TKES estimates that the combined IBM, SAP and PSI solution delivers cost savings of 25 to 30 percent over comparable solutions, thanks to its efficiency, consistency and reliability.
ThyssenKrupp Electrical Steel (TKES) is part of the Materials division of the major industrial firm ThyssenKrupp AG, which generated sales of €42.6 billion in the 2009/2010 fiscal year, and which has approximately 177,000 employees in more than 80 countries.
TKES is a leading global manufacturer of grain-oriented and non-oriented high-tech electrical steel. This core material is used throughout the entire value chain of the electrical energy components industry, from power generation, transmission and distribution to electric motors and appliances. With its innovative, high-quality products, TKES also plays a valuable role in meeting the increasing environmental requirements governing the use of steel in the manufacture of electrical components.
Standardization for efficiency
The TKES business has five manufacturing locations: at its German headquarters in Gelsenkirchen and in nearby Bochum, in India, in Italy, and in France. To ensure efficient production and effective coordination of its global activities, the company wanted to standardize operations and reporting across these different locations. Without a consistent, corporate-wide standard, the company recognized that it could not achieve its full profit potential.
The first step was to carry out a business-process re-engineering project with the existing SAP application landscape at headquarters — which included the upgrade of various legacy components and platforms to the latest standards.
The company also developed a uniform interface to its manufacturing locations, ensuring that everything was in place for a rollout of SAP Advance Planning and Optimization across its Grain Oriented Electrical Steel business.
The Gelsenkirchen and Bochum locations were using a solution from PSI for manufacturing operations, automation and control, and physical process management, including the information exchange with the business applications. For example, on the shop floor PSImetals controls materials tracking, process control, measurements capturing, quality management and reporting. The PSImetals solution had gradually been extended, and implemented in four manufacturing locations.
PSImetals’ standard functionality covers 70 percent of requirements, with about 20 percent of TKES-specific and about 10 percent location-specific customizations. Each manufacturing plant uses a separate database to manage production orders and amounts, time schedules, quantities, quality, measures and weights of intermediate and finished products.
Data exchange from the shop floor systems to core SAP software is managed by SAP NetWeaver Process Integration. During production, PSImetals collects, monitors and analyses materials data, and enables complete tracking of finished goods back to the raw materials used for hot rolled coil. PSImetals traces materials and product movements throughout the whole plant, and optimizes production processes to minimize wastage (known as ‘clippings’) and defects.
The integration between SAP and PSImetals is very tight, each software solution excels in its role. The difference is between the time horizons and level of granularity, and the solution can truly be considered as a joint setup, and not the one or the other.
Michael Brüne, Head of Information Technology at TKES, comments: “In our view, the main function of information technology is to support the central business processes in an optimized way. We have extremely demanding requirements regarding product quality and delivery times, and given the global nature of our business, this makes us absolutely reliant on the smooth operation of our information technology landscape.
“We want to preserve a relatively small technical team, to keep operational costs low, and so our requirement from the outset was for technology that would enable self-healing, fully autonomic operation as far as possible. With this in mind, we selected three key strategic partners: SAP for cross-enterprise business processes, PSI for functional coverage on the shopfloor, and IBM as our comprehensive infrastructure supplier.”
Fully virtualized landscape
The new centralized SAP APO landscape runs in the main TKES data center, located in Gelsenkirchen, Germany. The IBM infrastructure is split across three separate buildings for added protection against disaster, with fiber-optic connections providing the required high-speed mirroring of data.
In the first building, the multiple SAP central instances and database servers for PSImetals run on an IBM Power 770 server with IBM POWER7 processors and an IBM Power 570 with IBM POWER6 processors, while the PSImetals application server instances run on IBM BladeCenter HS22 blades. Two IBM System Storage DS5300 arrays provide high-speed disk storage, fully virtualized for greater flexibility using IBM System Storage SAN Volume Controller.
This entire system landscape is duplicated in the second building, with the exception that there is a single DS5300 rather than two. The third building provides data backup and archive services, using two IBM System Storage TS3310 Tape Libraries connected to the storage area network.
This fully virtualized landscape combines high performance for SAP applications with extreme flexibility and superb availability. Using IBM PowerVM virtualization technology on its Power servers, TKES can easily and rapidly create new virtual SAP environments to increase capacity, and to create test and development servers.
The use of a mirrored SAN enables SAP production and shop floor databases to be seamlessly moved from the Power servers in the primary building to the backup location, providing business continuity in the event of planned or unplanned downtime. The PSImetals application servers running on IBM BladeCenter are also protected in the same way, providing very high resilience for the complete application landscape.
In steel manufacture, production stoppages are costly, so TKES tries to keep its plants running around the clock. The high availability of the IBM infrastructure allows the company to have just one planned maintenance window each year of just two hours.
“The combination of IBM Power Systems and BladeCenter with SAN Volume Controller provided the end-to-end virtualization we wanted across both servers and storage,” says Michael Brüne. “In practical terms, the separation of the logical architecture from the physical infrastructure makes it much easier to protect against the failure of any individual components — because the environment can automatically recover the workload on an identical component in the second location. The IBM virtualization technologies enable great speed and flexibility, in addition to making it easy to expand the SAP landscape.”
Scaling up to global challenges
The IBM infrastructure offers both vertical (scale-up) and horizontal (scale-out) scalability. For the Power Systems servers, TKES can use IBM PowerVM to allocate and reallocate the processing resources flexibly across an extremely large number of virtual servers.
The company can also add further POWER7 and POWER6 processors to the shared pools if its business requirements grow significantly. Equally, it can easily and rapidly slot new HS22 blades into the BladeCenter systems as application workload grows.
“In parallel with the standardization of our business processes, we have achieved a standardization of the components of the IT infrastructure,” explains Carsten Kübler, who has overall responsibility for the IT infrastructure at TKES.
“The IBM technologies effectively give us a private cloud: a set of standard components that we can orchestrate to achieve whatever goals we have. Both the IBM hardware and the SAP software ensure that we never come up against any barriers when designing and executing our business processes.”
TKES also deployed mirrored IBM BladeCenter servers to run its PSImetals shopfloor solution in four production plants. In practical terms, standardizing on BladeCenter reduces the total number of technical skill sets the company needs to maintain, and enables more efficient IT procurement.
Highly integrated solution
Business success at TKES hinges on the company's ability to supply high-quality steels at the right price and within the timescales specified by its industrial customers.
Competition is fierce, so TKES needs to minimize operational losses and costs by achieving extremely high efficiency throughout the supply chain.
By standardizing its business processes on SAP Business Suite applications, and tightly integrating them with the production processes managed using PSImetals, TKES has enabled fast and efficient production from order entry to delivery.
Moreover, the use of common business definitions and data standards enables accurate reporting in real time, allowing business managers to see and understand the status of manufacturing across all plants.
TKES uses the SAP APO application to book customer orders, plan and allocate production orders, report on finished materials and their status, plan shipping, issue invoices, and manage all related administrative processes.
Through a standardized interface, the SAP applications exchange information on intermediate and finished products with the plant systems.
There are approximately 1,000 registered users of the SAP applications, of which 290 on average work concurrently. The powerful IBM infrastructure helps deliver excellent response times, and all five manufacturing locations use the same single SAP central instance.
Karlheinz Boländer, responsible for SAP projects at TKES, emphasizes the importance of a corporate-wide standardized application landscape: “The integration of all locations in one single SAP environment enables the efficient administration of all users under a single common standard. Equally, identical algorithms and databases ensure a ‘single source of truth’ for reporting.”
“The high degree of integration in this solution supports governance and compliance initiatives, and gives us a corporate template for operations. This template will mean substantially reduced effort and cost to absorb any future moves the company may make.”
Tight integration of the central SAP system with the PSImetals instance in each manufacturing location enables all inventory data to be accessed at any time. During the production process, PSImetals collects, monitors and continuously analyzes all material data, enabling sophisticated tracking. For example, TKES can completely track each end-product back to the hot rolled coil from which it was made, ensuring complete traceability and supporting the highest quality standards in manufacture.
TKES customer orders define the specific type of steel needed. Starting with the hot-rolled coils, processes known as rolling, annealing, coating, side trimming, repairing and slitting provide the variations required by the customer. A key challenge is to maximize the material yield from each coil with minimum wastage, and to optimize the manufacturing operations for each coil.
Robert Gieselmann, responsible for PSI shopfloor solutions at TKES, comments: “The open architecture and the modularity of PSImetals make customer-specific customizations per location possible with special plug-ins using the same technology. That offers additional flexibility when business processes change.
PSImetals integrates extremely well with SAP applications; in fact, the solution is certified as ‘Powered by SAP NetWeaver’. The practical outcome is smooth exchange of data between our SAP system and the manufacturing plants.”
TKES deploys SAP Advance Planning and Optimization, which allows the company to plan the allocation of customer orders and processes across multiple business units. This makes it possible to consolidate orders for similar steels to a single production run, maximizing efficiency, reducing delivery times and reducing manufacturing costs in a way that was not previously possible.
Proven cost savings
The early decision to establish a consistent and standardized system and application architecture throughout TKES is now paying significant dividends. Michael Brüne comments: “Standardization took time and effort, but it has already more than repaid our investment.
Today, TKES can operate efficiently with a small set of highly flexible and scalable resources. Our recent experience has proven that we can integrate entire new production locations into the common landscape quickly and without any productivity losses.”
In practical terms, having an integrated IBM environment, with applications and services on the best IT platform for the task keeps IT operational costs low and makes it easy to replace or upgrade the underlying components. This means that TKES can easily benefit from continuous improvements in the price-performance ratio of the latest hardware and software, and runs a fully optimized IT environment.
Michael Brüne says, “Having participated in multiple benchmarks during the last years, we see a clear economic advantage.
"We estimate that our IBM, SAP and PSI landscape offers IT cost savings of 25 to 30 percent against comparable solutions. And the high degree of abstraction and virtualization in the solution means that we can easily benefit from ongoing technology refreshes to improve the performance of our systems, without requiring any changes to the logical architecture.”
He concludes, “Our investment in a flexible solution from IBM, SAP and PSI will continue to deliver benefits into the future, driving greater efficiency and speed in our manufacturing processes while continuing to push down costs in IT operations.”
Products and services used
IBM products and services that were used in this case study.
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