Pilkington's SAP roll-out to recoup cost in two years

Pilkington, the automotive glass maker, has said it expects a full return on investment (ROI) in two years for an IT integration...

Pilkington, the automotive glass maker, has said it expects a full return on investment (ROI) in two years for an IT integration project.

The £21m project, which won an e-business innovation award at the SAP Empower Forum earlier this month, saw Pilkington standardise on SAP's R/3 enterprise software to link 11 plants across Europe in a single IT infrastructure.

The project faced a number of challenges in bringing together disparate systems and data.

Phil Roberts, SAP project manager at Pilkington, said, "The new systems allow us to run the business as a Europe-wide business and was approved by the board to underpin a company restructure. Previously we had plant-by-plant forecasts and this would often lead to duplication and conflicts."

Manufacturing runs were now planned wherever capacity was available, he said.

This allows demand, which would previously have been satisfied by several plants separately, to be consolidated at a single plant with a longer production run, cutting the cost of manufacturing, transport and materials procurement.

Roberts said the biggest challenge was co-ordinating the project, which was rolled out on a country-by-country basis. "We had to manage the project very carefully because we were running several roll-outs at one time. Harmonisation was the biggest thing," he said.

"Making sure we managed change properly was a huge challenge. It was essential to ensure the business was ready to go live, that people were trained fully and on board with the concept," said Roberts.

Cleaning data involved hundreds of people in teams which ran through the life of the project. "Business units in different countries had different codes for products, customers and suppliers," said Roberts.

This summer Pilkington went live with a Web-based ordering system for customers in 15 European countries to order parts on a 24-hour basis.

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