Founded in 1991 as a subsidiary of BPW Bergische Achsen KG, BPW-Hungária is a specialist manufacturer of heavy-duty running gear, bearings, braking, and suspension systems for towed vehicles, particularly for the agricultural sector. Employing 1,500 people, the company manufactures over 130,000 vehicle chassis per year and generates annual revenues of approximately 240 million euros. The world’s farming industry is facing unprecedented challenges. On one hand, a rapidly growing population is driving up demand for food steadily year on year. On the other, a combination of agricultural labor shortages and increasingly extreme weather makes it more difficult for farmers to maximize crop yields.
BPW-Hungária supports farmers across Europe with specialist agricultural machinery. When the global pandemic upturned usual customer ordering trends, the company aimed to adapt its long manufacturing lead times to cope with the new patterns of demand. BPW-Hungária opted to replace its legacy systems with the next-generation SAP S/4HANA solution, choosing to run the software on SUSE Linux Enterprise Server (SLES) for SAP Applications, hosted on IBM Power servers with IBM FlashSystem storage. This high-performance, high-availability stack enables BPW-Hungária to harness real-time analytics to optimize forecasting, production and logistics.
Predicting demand with real-time data
With sophisticated engineering processes and relatively long manufacturing times, BPW-Hungária aims to minimize delivery delays by optimizing its schedules based on projected customer demand.
“In the past, we relied heavily on manual processes to create forecasts and build our production plans,” explains Zoltán Medvegy, IT manager at BPW-Hungária. “While this approach had served us well, the disruption of the global pandemic highlighted its limitations. Our goal was to increase the accuracy of our production planning process to help us respond flexibly to pandemic-driven fluctuations in business volumes.”
BPW-Hungária looked to integrate and automate its business processes wherever possible, replacing manual systems with real-time data that would enable predictive analytics. To lay the foundation for innovations such as business process automation and Industry 4.0, BPW-Hungária decided to replace legacy applications with the SAP S/4HANA next-generation ERP platform.
“With SUSE, IBM and SAP solutions, we are gaining faster and deeper insights into our end-to-end business process, which will ultimately help us to offer a higher quality of service to customers across the agricultural industry.”
Critical processes, optimized platform
To maximize the benefits of its investment in SAP S/4HANA, BPW-Hungária looked for infrastructure with the performance, resilience and scalability to handle the demanding requirements of real-time analytics. After evaluating multiple platform options, the company selected IBM Power E950 servers running SLES for SAP Applications, connected to low-latency IBM FlashSystem 7200 storage. BPW-Hungária uses IBM PowerVM virtualization to create logical partitions sized to offer optimal performance for its SAP S/4HANA applications.
“With SLES for SAP Applications on IBM Power, we can achieve high levels of performance for our SAP S/4HANA applications with a significant reduction in server resources compared to an equivalent x86 platform,” explains Medvegy. “In addition, SLES for SAP Applications gives us the peace of mind that we are using the environment of choice for SAP’s own developers — helping to ensure excellent compatibility and high levels of reliability.”
As the leading Linux platform globally for SAP S/4HANA solutions, and the platform on which SAP develops new releases first, SLES for SAP Applications is specially tuned to ensure optimal performance and stability for BPW-Hungária’s most important systems. As an integral element in the SAP S/4HANA environment at BPW-Hungária, the SUSE operating system helps the company keep manufacturing and logistics on schedule for enhanced customer satisfaction.
Delivering better service at lower cost
With SAP S/4HANA running on SLES for SAP Applications, BPW-Hungária has gained the rock-solid foundation it needs to shift its digital transformation efforts into high gear. The company is now harnessing its new business process automation capabilities to enhance operational efficiency, and to better anticipate and adapt to fluctuations in the market caused by the pandemic.
“In the longer term, real-time analytics from SAP S/4HANA will empower us to align our sales forecasts more closely with production and logistics,” says Medvegy. “The result will be improved cost-efficiency for BPW-Hungária and shorter lead times for our customers — helping us to ensure that they have all the equipment they need to meet the challenges facing the agricultural industry.”
Crucially, the combination of SUSE and IBM technologies means that BPW-Hungária will gain these benefits at a significantly lower TCO than for a comparable x86-architecture platform. “Over a five-year period, IBM Power offers BPW-Hungária a 20% lower TCO than an equivalent x86-based solution,” Medvegy confirms.
While its digital transformation journey is only just beginning, BPW-Hungária is confident that SAP S/4HANA on SLES for SAP Applications is the optimal platform to realize its Industry 4.0 aspirations. The company plans to implement Industrial Internet of Things sensor technologies on its factory floor, generating detailed operational data that will help unlock further efficiencies.
“We see that integrating our operations — both within BPW-Hungária and the group as a whole — will lead to improved flexibility, increased cooperation and a sharper competitive edge,” concludes Medvegy. “With SUSE, IBM and SAP solutions, we are gaining faster and deeper insights into our end-to-end business process, which will ultimately help us to offer a higher quality of service to customers across the agricultural industry.”