Hindustan Motors boosts its operational efficiency

by Sohini Bagchi    Jan 08, 2013


As the senior IT manager of Hindustan Motors Limited, the flagship venture of the C. K. Birla Group, Vijayakrishna K. S, believes that new challenges often excite him and enable him to perform even better. “A CIO has to constantly think out-of-the-box. And during a technology migration or an implementation, his thinking prowess is up for a test and this is the real challenge,” he says.

Vijayakrishna looks after the company’s Tiruvallur plant near Chennai in Tamil Nadu, a state-of-the-art manufacturing facility producing premium passenger cars in technical collaboration with Japan’s Mitsubishi Motors Corporation. The company also has another plant in Uttarpara, in the Hooghly district of West Bengal, its oldest unit that produced the iconic Ambassador model.

Performance bottlenecks within Hindustan Motors owing to legacy technology were limiting the company’s efficiency, says Vijayakrishna. “When it encountered problems with its legacy HP system, we realized that it’s time to migrate to a more robust and scalable database,” he says.

The needed a total IT solution that can power the company’s SAP environment. Vijayakrishna explains that the company has 125 SAP users in total, with around 90-100 logged in concurrently. “When the number of concurrent SAP users began to increase, we started to get a bottleneck effect in our storage system, which significantly reduced system access times. At its lowest ebb, our users were waiting up to two minutes per operation. Because of these delays, we weren’t able to deal with orders fast enough to meet our business goals – it simply wasn’t an acceptable situation.”

“In other words, we wanted to increase the efficiency of our workflow processes. In order to achieve this, we realized the need to go for a complete infrastructure overhaul. The new infrastructure would be used to upgrade SAP ERP from version 4.6 to SAP ERP Central Component 6.0,” he says.

While searching for a vendor to get total IT solution, Hindustan Motors evaluated HP, Sun and IBM for servers and Oracle and IBM for databases and finally decided to go with IBM because it was already using its hardware and Tivoli backup software.

“Moreover, we were convinced after a demonstration from the team,” says Vijayakumar, adding that the company chose IBM DB2 software over Oracle after SAP informed them that it was their preferred database software. Its price point was also more attractive than Oracle’s.

Hindustan Motors engaged IBM to build its new SAP environment. It implemented IBM Power 520 Express and IBM System x3650 servers running the IBM AIX operating system. After the data from the legacy system was successfully migrated to the new environment, it upgraded SAP 4.6 to SAP ERP Central Component 6.0.

“Migrating to a new database often turns out to be the biggest challenge. There were also apprehensions about the implementation timing. But everything went smoothly as we migrated the operating system from HP-UX to IBM AIX and database from IBM Informix to IBM DB2 more than 12 hours before the end of the 48 hour downtime window,” says Vijayakrishna.

He adds that there were challenges as they did not have any space left on the old hardware. Because of this, the entire database migration was performed using only Network File System (NFS) protocol. However, the migration was successful and there were visible benefits.

After the implementation was complete, the in-house IT team of Hindustan Motors was thoroughly trained by the vendor to perform the routine maintenance required to keep the system healthy.

“After the solution went live, we experienced an immediate boost in performance. Within a few days, the access time was reduced from two minutes to just 30 seconds - an improvement of 75 percent. By giving our end users rapid access to the SAP system, we’ve increased our operational efficiency by around 40 percent. Today, we can process more orders in a shorter span of time, which is good for our business, and most importantly our customers.”

The installing of DB2 database software also helped Hindustan Motors increase its total operational efficiency. Vijayakrishna notes that it has increased its data compression by 40 percent, reducing the need for physical expansion of storage in the future.

“It was a good deal as DB2, being the preferred database of SAP and being relatively less costly and easy manageability made it the best option for the company,” sums up Vijayakrishna.