IT projects underpin Pilkington's profits

Glass maker Pilkington has attributed its continuing success to its IT strategy. Last week the company announced it had achieved...

Glass maker Pilkington has attributed its continuing success to its IT strategy. Last week the company announced it had achieved a £217m profit for the year in an environment of shrinking demand.

Steven Pownall, Pilkington's group IS director, said, "Everyone is under pressure to cut costs in infrastructure and maintenance, but here IT investment is recognised by the business as not specifically an IT cost but as making a contribution like any other investment."

The company is in the middle of a £40m project to bring common business processes to 50 separate IT groups across the world and put much of its business online. In the US, up to a third of its business - worth $150m (£92m) - is now conducted online.

Plans are also being drawn up for a £10m project to put all Pilkington's servers in one location and manage them centrally.

Pownall identified the core SAP ERP system as where key benefits have been derived. The company's manufacturing systems have been made visible to its suppliers, with deliveries being automatically triggered and changes made to payment records.

He said the global roll-out had resulted in a common set of processes across multiple business units, providing a common basis for comparison and allowing shared service centres for HR and financial applications.

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