In the last 18 months, we acquired two big companies in the US – an architectural glass company and an automotive glass producer. This means we have increased our footprint and become one of the largest glass manufacturers in America, so we are very relevant in the US market and have more than 20 plants. One of our goals is to help achieve synergies from these acquisitions and support the business case in a very short period of time.
We launched more than 30 projects for the first case in order to reach these objectives, and we had a timeframe of only 12 months. As soon as the merger agreement was signed, the clock started ticking for us to execute these projects. We needed to migrate the new business to our systems. We wanted to provide our own services and migrate all of the new company’s systems to our own infrastructure, which is run by T-Systems.
Moreover, as part of that project, we needed to consolidate network services and data in our data center in Houston, which is also operated by T-Systems. This was a critical task because without transferring all these systems, nothing would have worked and we wouldn’t have been able to provide access to SAP or even migrate employees from the acquired company to the Vitro email server. This project last year was very challenging, but it was also a real success, and we were very happy with it and with T-Systems. We were able to reach our go-live targets. It took a long time to migrate everyone – around seven months – but we did it.
We achieved synergies and were able to reduce IT operation costs. At the same time, we had to work closely with our new colleagues in IT at the companies we had acquired; we needed to make them part of our team for the projects to be successful.
We needed a solid partnership with someone that we knew and trusted, who could help us achieve our synergies quickly and efficiently. The first project we executed with T-Systems was an SAP hosting project back in 2010 where we migrated our on-premise SAP systems in Latin America to T-Systems Dynamic Services and implemented a completely dynamic pay-per-usage model. We achieved savings and performance goals, and were able to run the system faster than when we ran it on our own premises. This contract was set to expire in 2017/2018.
In 2016, ahead of the mergers, we had already developed a very strong and positive relationship with T-Systems; they were also achieving excellent compliance with agreed service levels. As a result, we asked them about extending the existing contract to include the new subsidiaries. It made sense to extend the contract so we could focus on the migration and acquisition.
We have created a ‘OneIT’ program, which means we have to be able to provide the same quality of IT services that we have in Mexico to all Vitro companies around the world. Against this background, it made complete sense to us to stay with T-Systems.
“We have created a ‘OneIT’ program, which means we have to be able to provide the same quality of IT services that we have in Mexico to all Vitro companies around the world.”
It’s already very relevant, and it’s becoming more and more so. We have over 100 years of expertise and large volumes of data from our production lines, and we started to ask ourselves what we could achieve with all that data. As a consequence, we have launched initiatives to analyze that information and start playing with it so we can pinpoint root-cause problems with quality, yield, performance and so on.
This is a matter of partnerships. We maintain a partnership with a company called OSIsoft; all of the sensor data that is created in our plants is stored in their systems, and this enables us to analyze and present this information to the plants and operations teams to aid their decision-making. Based on this data, we can also create dashboards that we can show to top management.
We are building an architecture layer to ensure we have real-time production data that we can provide to our businesses or operations teams – or send out to the cloud for further analysis, depending on the specific problem we want to solve.
Founded in 1909, today Vitro is one of the largest manufacturers of glass products worldwide. Vitro’s companies produce, distribute, and market a wide range of glass articles, which are part of the daily life of millions of people in 58 countries.
We have a solid, well-designed maintenance and repair process that we review annually, so that we can maintain the quality of our equipment and extend the life of those assets. In our SAP model, we have created a manufacturing and maintenance model that allows us to evaluate the maturity process for all maintenance operations, such as how many repairs are done correctively, urgently, predictively or independently. We use this model to evaluate how plants are performing in this regard.
We’ve been working with OEMs for a long time. We currently provide advanced technology windshields and glass parts, with the specific capabilities that OEMs are requesting. Many of these innovations are jointly designed with the OEMs, to improve the quality of the antennas, components or the glass, for example.
We have various ways of integrating innovative ideas into our business. For example, through our acquisition of the Flat Glass business, we gained access to a very strong R&D division which gives us a competitive advantage. Moreover, our IT organization has a relationship with an incubator in Silicon Valley that connects us to startups in various fields, including mobility and new materials. We talk to them to see what they’re doing and explore how we can help – for example, in making cars lighter.
We have talked to T-Systems and their innovation group to generate new ideas, not just for automotive but also in other areas of our glass business. We explained to them our challenges regarding sensors or developments for augmented reality, for instance – and we recognize that they can deliver ideas and innovative proposals that could really help us. In that sense, it is definitely an advantage to know us as a company and understand our business processes as deeply as T-Systems does.
From the IT perspective, I think data will play an increasingly key role across the manufacturing industry; in fact, this is already happening. How do we get data from our product that we can leverage, for example, to provide services or maintenance, or to understand how our product behaves once we deliver it?
This is also part of becoming a digital company, which is challenging in manufacturing as we don’t sell to the end consumer. So how do we connect with and access data from those endpoints that can help us enhance our processes – and by extension, our products? To put it simply: whatever the next big thing will be for the glass industry, IT will surely play an integral part.