Introducing Gatronova Group
Gatronova Group comprises 36 companies operating across a broad range of sectors. With over 6,000 employees in Pakistan, the USA and UAE, Gatronova has customers in more than 45 countries and generates annual revenues in excess of $350 million.
Through a mixture of organic growth and corporate acquisitions, Gatronova is growing rapidly and moving into new segments. Previously, Gatronova companies ran their own separate business systems. Across the group, there were over 2,800 distinct workflows running across a number of legacy ERP systems. Gatronova knew that it could accelerate its growth by integrating and centralizing these siloed business processes.
Atif Najam is group CIO for Gatronova, which manufactures textiles and other polyester-based materials in Pakistan. He comments: “We wanted to have integrated business processes and a single source of trust for the entire enterprise. With this visibility, we would be able to optimize business processes, reduce operating costs and remove bottlenecks.”
Najam adds: “Through the automation of data-entry points, we could also accelerate our month-end financial closing. And for manufacturing, having a single common source of data on planning, warehouse operations and logistics would help us balance inventory and production more efficiently across the group. That might mean shifting an order to the factory geographically closest to the customer, thereby cutting the transport costs and associated emissions. Or transporting surplus raw materials to a site where supplies are running low, to avoid halting production.”
Gatronova Group is undergoing a digital transformation that will accelerate growth through diversification into new industry verticals. As a first step, the group is centralizing its groupwide business processes with SAP S/4HANA, running on SUSE Linux Enterprise Server (SLES) for SAP Applications on IBM Power. This new approach is helping Gatronova find inter-company synergies for greater efficiency, clearing the way for improved customer experiences and faster integration of newly adopted companies.
Adopting a future-proof platform
To achieve its aims, Gatronova initiated a strategic project to transform its application landscape and digitize its business processes. The goal was to consolidate to a single, integrated set of workflows for enhanced decision-making, greater operational efficiency and faster growth. From the IT perspective, this required the company to replace disparate legacy systems with new foundational technology that could support the company for the long term.
Gatronova selected the next-generation ERP, SAP S/4HANA, to replace multiple custom-built ERP systems in order to gain real-time visibility of business data across all 36 companies in the group.
As all group companies will rely on the new SAP S/4HANA solution to run daily operations, minimizing unplanned downtime is crucial. For ultra-high availability, Gatronova chose to run SAP S/4HANA on SLES for SAP Applications, an operating system specially tailored to meet the software’s requirements. The company selected IBM Power E950 servers, IBM FlashSystem FS5015 and IBM FlashSystem FS5100 storage arrays as the hardware for the new landscape, with IBM Spectrum Protect to provide automated data protection capabilities.
“We spoke with multiple companies in Pakistan running SAP S/4HANA, and the vast majority use SLES,” says Najam. “Their feedback on SLES for SAP Applications was overwhelmingly positive. We were impressed by the support and guidance from the SUSE consultants, who shared best practices for deploying SAP S/4HANA and gave thorough answers to all our questions.”
“With real-time material requirements planning data from SAP S/4HANA, we will be able to use predictive analytics in planning processes. [...] None of these innovations would be possible without the new IBM, SAP and SUSE solutions.”
Combining SUSE and IBM technologies
With so much business data at stake, Gatronova implemented disaster recovery safety nets for its businesses’ processes. Working with IBM Systems Lab Services, it set up SAP HANA System Replication for mirroring its production database to a backup data center; it also created a SUSE Linux Enterprise High Availability Extension cluster for its SAP S/4HANA applications. The combination of technologies ensures peace of mind should any catastrophe, human-made or otherwise, interrupt daily operations.
The solution stack also enables Gatronova to integrate the group’s disparate systems faster and with confidence. When asked, SLES for SAP Applications automatically installs the full SAP stack, including the operating system, SAP workloads, high-availability clustering and comprehensive monitoring, simplifying the workload of IT staff and removing the potential for human error. The solution also includes SUSE’s saptune tool for rapid configuration and optimization, getting systems up and running faster and easier.
With the entire landscape running in an IBM Power trifecta with SUSE and SAP, Gatronova has a dependable and highly efficient platform for consolidated business processes.
“Many major banks in Pakistan rely on IBM Power to support their core banking systems, which gave us confidence in the resilience, availability and scalability of the platform,” says Najam. “The combined solution with SUSE and SAP is also very compact and efficient: we achieve the same performance with just three physical IBM Power servers as we could with nine x86 servers. With IBM Power, SUSE and SAP, we are achieving approximately 40% in cost-avoidance on space, power and cooling.”
Speed, efficiency and innovation
Gatronova has now consolidated over 2,800 processes to just 150 workflows in SAP S/4HANA. Although its business optimization journey is only just beginning, Gatronova is already seeing impressive results and predicts that moving all group businesses to a single financial accounting system will accelerate monthend closing by 75%, from four days to less than 24 hours.
Najam adds: “With real-time material requirements planning data from SAP S/4HANA, we will be able to use predictive analytics in planning processes. This helps us to optimize our supply chain, combining sales forecasts with order and inventory data so that we can make sure we have the right raw materials to fulfil every order. Or, if we think that prices will rise, we can limit our risk by buying raw materials ahead of time. None of these innovations would be possible without our new IBM, SAP and SUSE solution.”
What’s next for Gatronova?
Working with reliable, real-time business data in SAP S/4HANA, Gatronova expects to transform the end-to-end efficiency of its operations. The company plans to build a host of innovative services, from robotic process automation (RPA) to predictive plant maintenance and blockchain-based optimizations.
Najam says, “By combining SAP S/4HANA with blockchain technology, we plan to build a shared ledger of inventory. Our customers will scan a QR code each time they pick stock, and the shared ledger will be securely updated — allowing us to automatically adjust quantities in the next delivery so that inventory levels stay in line with the contractual agreement.”
As Gatronova continues to expand, the group has a robust yet flexible platform for further success and to smooth the integration of new acquisitions from new sectors such as pharmaceuticals. With SAP solutions on SLES on IBM Power, Gatronova has all the performance and scalability it needs to continue expanding organically and integrating these new acquisitions.
Najam concludes: “Thanks to our solution from IBM, SAP and SUSE, our business processes and the underlying technology platform are rock-solid — so we can focus on growth and penetrating new markets.”