22 December 2003 00:00 [Source: PCE]
BASF IT Services and AK Engineering Services have forged an alliance that addresses the poor optimisation of plant maintenance resources in the European process industry. The initial call-off contract, which is valued at approximately €2.7m, runs until the end of next year initially, but can then be extended by further one year periods if desired.
Driving the alliance is the need for process manufacturing companies to integrate plant data with management information to reduce maintenance costs and improve plant asset utilisation. To deliver this, a jointly developed centralised maintenance planning solution, called SAP-PAS, provides a single, company-wide view of all planning activities for maintenance tasks, shutdowns and projects across both single and multiple plant locations.
The solution provides two-way integration between SAP's R/3 platform and Primavera's P3e planning tool to provide effective control of all plant maintenance activities. It also provides visibility and control of maintenance resources to enable effective planning across multiple plants, sites, divisions and locations, leading to the adoption of advanced maintenance techniques to reduce engineering and maintenance costs and drive improvements in plant throughput and performance.
'We want to expand our already strong market presence in the UK and Europe,' says Malcolm Oliver, managing director, AK Engineering Services, 'and furthermore, in doing so, we will rely even more on new technology, which offers our customers the ability to integrate disparate processes and consequently reduce costs. In BASF IT Services we've found a partner dedicated to delivering best practice in the application of technology in process manufacturing.'
David Wilson, sales director for BASF IT Services, adds: 'With our 30 years' experience as IT service provider for BASF, optimisation of the IT environment has become second nature for us. Now we are ready to share that expertise to help the industry as a whole get more from their investment at a time when they need it most. Combined with Aker Kvaerner's engineering know-how, we've built a compelling case for breathing life back into the process industry by integrating maintenance with the rest of the business.'
Meanwhile, BASF IT Services is set to succeed - according to Christophe Châlons, managing director of IT consultancy company Pierre Audoin Consultants in Munich.
Châlons told PCE that BASF IT Services had recognised and understood the market needs since it was set up in April 2001.
'The company has defined clear goals and the necessary funds have been granted by the parent company,' he said. 'In addition, BASF IT Services has employed a lot of external sales and management staff with the necessary market know-how and has defined a clear portfolio. It is also working on improving the cost factor to make the company more efficient and profitable and as such, ensure long-term success.'
Dieter Thomaschewski, BASF Group's responsible president for Region Europe, also thinks BASF IT Services is heading in the right direction.
'Satisfied customers are our benchmark,' he says. 'And with the support of our IT provider, BASF IT Services, we have been able to make significant steps in the right direction. The expertise that this company has attained in its close cooperation with the BASF Group is an excellent basis for its success on the external market.'
For Thomaschewski, first-rate IT services are invaluable on various levels to a company, particularly when competition is tough.
The keys to success are quality assurance and cost-reduction, through far-reaching standardisation, worldwide and groupwide.
Wolfgang Erny, BASF IT Services managing director, responsible for the Application & Infrastructure Division, tells how the company had progressed with restructuring itself since April 2001.
'We now have a European organisation, with a customer-orientated structure,' he says. 'It is our goal to reduce costs and improve productivity.' In addition to the savings BASF IT Services is making for the BASF Group in terms of its IT budget, the company is also implementing new procurement strategies which will enable BASF to make sustainable savings - €35m - by 2004.
Indeed, since its creation in 2001, BASF IT Services has made good progress towards achieving its underlying goal of improving IT services in terms of both cost and quality, with the company's productivity having improved by around ten per cent in the past year.
'Within three years, we want a significant proportion of our turnover to come from business outside the BASF Group, though this, our most important customer will continue to remain our priority,' said Erny. 'Then, within five years, we then want to have attained a profit margin in line with market norms.'
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