About Weber Automotive
Weber Automotive GmbH is a mid-sized automotive company headquartered in Markdorf, Germany, with additional operations in Neuenbürg, Germany, and in Hungary and the US. Founded in 1969, the company manufactures engine blocks and highly specialised drive components for major automotive customers including Audi, BMW, Chrysler, General Motors and Volkswagen. With the MPE (Multi Purpose Engine) concept, Weber Motor produces powerful 2L and V4 motors as well as complete drive systems.
Companies operating in the automotive industry typically have long and complex supply chains involving numerous external suppliers. It is a considerable challenge to coordinate the activity of these suppliers, and to synchronise component delivery precisely with complex just-in-time manufacturing schedules, to ensure that production lines keep moving efficiently.
As a supplier to major global automotive manufacturers, Weber Automotive must maintain extremely high standards both in the quality of its engineering and in its ability to precisely meet its clients' delivery schedules. With demand growing, Weber Automotive wanted to increase the performance and availability of its existing ERP system, to continue to deliver excellent service with no unscheduled production downtime.
Weber Automotive was running SAP software on 11 separate Intel processor-based servers. The company needed a new server platform and operating system that would support higher I/O and system memory, and that would enable it to cluster multiple virtual SAP environments to achieve higher availability.
Weber Automotive opted to migrate its SAP environment to SUSE® Linux Enterprise Server running on the IBM Power Systems architecture. The close co-operation between IBM and Novell was a critical success factor for the project. The company selected three IBM System p5 550Q servers, each with two quad-core POWER5+ processors, and worked with IT-Services and Solutions GmbH, a certified business partner of both IBM and Novell, to implement them.
The first server is dedicated to the ERP environment, the second is designed for production scheduling and control, and the third acts as a test and development environment. To complete the solution, Weber Automotive created a dedicated storage area network based on two mirrored IBM System Storage DS4700 subsystems.
"Moving from 32-bit Linux on Intel processors to 64-bit SUSE Linux Enterprise Server on IBM POWER5+ processors delivered a significant performance boost," said Günter Dürringer, Head of IT, Weber Automotive GmbH. "We also consolidated from 11 physical servers to three, creating a simpler and more compact environment that is easier to manage."
Weber Automotive uses IBM Tivoli Systems Automation to manage the SAP application clusters, using policy-based self-healing technologies to analyse and fix most issues automatically. In combination with the built-in high availability characteristics of SUSE Linux Enterprise, this enables Weber Automotive to keep its production scheduling and control systems operational at all times.
"As a supplier to major automotive companies, it is vital for us to offer a completely reliable service–any interruption or delay could bring our clients' production lines to a halt," said Dürringer. "SUSE Linux Enterprise Server is proving to be an extremely reliable platform for our SAP systems, and we have experienced no problems whatsoever at the operating system level."
SUSE Linux Enterprise Server provides superb performance and availability for Weber Automotive's ERP and production scheduling environments, helping the company meet growing demands from clients both efficiently and at low cost. The 64-bit memory space of the Novell operating system removes the previous 4GB upper limit, enabling Weber Automotive to hold and manipulate much larger sets of data in memory.
Migrating to SUSE Linux Enterprise Server has given Weber Automotive a reliable, high-performance and cost-effective operating system for its business-critical SAP ERP and production scheduling environments.
"The operating system is a critical part of the software stack: it must run reliably and with little or no requirement for manual intervention," said Dürringer. "SUSE Linux Enterprise offers excellent availability, giving us a stable platform for SAP with minimal management overhead."
The pressure of meeting its clients' just-in-time manufacturing deadlines means that Weber Automotive puts a premium on system performance. Although the company has a relatively small community of 270 SAP users, the automation of its production line leads to approximately 750,000 remote system connections each day.
"Our former platform was struggling to deliver the required performance at peak times," said Dürringer. "SUSE Linux Enterprise Server on IBM p5 servers delivers the performance and I/O bandwidth we need to handle our heavy workload."
A further advantage of using SUSE Linux Enterprise is its flexibility and vendor-independence, enabling Weber Automotive to select the most appropriate hardware for its requirements. The operating system will also keep long-term costs low.
"The stability of SUSE Linux Enterprise Server enables us to focus on application maintenance rather than on low-level OS administration," said Dürringer. "This low maintenance requirement helps make SUSE Linux Enterprise the most cost–effective platform for Weber Automotive."