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Rolls-Royce standardises SAP for production gains

Warwick Ashford

Rolls-Royce has completed the homogenisation of SAP systems as part of its strategy to standardise its systems and increase manufacturing capacity through flexibility.

The two-year global project across 29 sites enables Rolls-Royce to run its manufacturing operations, project management, financial systems, human resources and material requirements planning from a single SAP implementation, which is used by 20,000 staff.

The company, which had sales of £7.4bn last year, has embraced standardisation of IT and business processes to drive value and maximise use of manufacturing capacity.

"We have traditionally operated factories independently, but the standardisation of systems and processes means we can now operate more effectively at the global scale," said Jonathan Mitchell, chief information officer at Rolls-Royce.

Standardisation of processes at Rolls-Royce's factories has enabled the company to shift manufacturing of the Tay and V2500 jet engines from Derby to Berlin to create capacity in Derby for manufacturing engines for the Airbus A380 and the Boeing 787 Dreamliner.

"Historically we have not moved production around, but we are now utilising our manufacturing capability in a network to give greater flexibility and to enable us to use capacity more effectively," said Mitchell.

Rolls-Royce's policy of standardisation and non-customisation has been driven jointly by Mitchell and chief executive John Rose. "We have a common view and see a real benefit to the company in standardising on all the elements of commonality across the business," said Mitchell.

"Our SAP implementation is pretty much out-of-the-box. We have changed processes to match the software, so there has been very little customisation. We customise only in areas where we have a real differentiator."

Rolls-Royce's SAP roll-out was done site by site. In this way, the standard template became a model for best practices across the group.


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