Yaskawa needed to increase insight and control over its supply chain, boost the efficiency of staff and suppliers, and simplify the development of digital tools and processes.
The company engaged NTT DATA Services to help build a cloud-based supplier portal with SAP technologies that integrates seamlessly with on-premises systems including Active Directory for role-based access.
“All the improvements we’ve made with NTT DATA make our supply chain better and faster, which benefits our customers.”
Companies that provide automation solutions require a highly efficient supply chain to deliver the best possible customer service. Any manual processes or inflexible technologies add time and undermine competitiveness. Yaskawa understands this. As the world’s largest global manufacturer of AC inverter drives, robotics automation systems, and servo and motion controls — it must rapidly fill customers’ orders and deliver products that outshine alternative offerings.
For years, the company had managed interactions with thousands of suppliers using a custom portal based on IBM Domino, as well as standalone tools including email, SAP ERP and SAP BI. The siloed systems and manual processes hindered communication and real-time insight, making it difficult to efficiently manage product designs, pricing, orders, forecasts and problems. New suppliers had to wait days for an IT employee to give them portal access, which slowed workflows. And the portal’s intermittent availability issues and inflexibility restricted overall efficiency and business agility.
To overcome these challenges and improve customers’ experience, Yaskawa decided to optimize its portal and add intelligent automation by building a new cloud-based version on the SAP Cloud Platform using SAPUI5 and the SAP Ariba supply-chain solution. The new cloud-based portal would connect all of Yaskawa’s SAP systems regardless of where they resided. And Yaskawa wanted its new solution to retain some critical capabilities of the existing portal, including the use of on-premises Active Directory to manage identities and authentication for its entire hybrid-cloud architecture.
Because it would be the first organization to integrate all the SAP technologies plus Active Directory, Yaskawa engaged NTT DATA for help. Parvez Gani, IT director at Yaskawa, explains, “There is no direct connection available between SAP Cloud Platform and Ariba, so we worked with NTT DATA to build that connection and extend the capabilities from Ariba to our new site. We also worked together to customize our solution so users authenticate against our Active Directory. That by itself was a huge challenge because we were also the first SAP Cloud Platform customer to do that.”
Today, Yaskawa’s employees and suppliers can log in to the new portal using any device, and see the up-to-date information they’re authorized to view from across the supply chain. Automated workflows instantly track and compile information from different systems and control access to it using Active Directory. Employees can also obtain and compare quotes from multiple suppliers in real time, instead of having to manually contact each one. “All the improvements we’ve made with NTT DATA make our supply chain better and faster, which benefits our customers,” says Gani. “For example, in the past, communication with suppliers was managed by many people over email, and information was not always current. We’ve automated a lot of processes, so everyone within a group can now go to the portal and instantly see everything they need, including an audit trail of all communication. And our new solution is very stable. We haven’t had any downtime.”
Yaskawa has also increased security and agility with its innovative solution. “Suppliers no longer have to wait for authorization to access our portal,” Gani explains. “Once members are added in Ariba, a job automatically pulls that information to create a new entry in Active Directory using predefined roles and access privileges.” In addition, because SAP monitors the cloud-based systems, IT staff have more time to work on enhancements and other projects. Developers can now create new features 50 percent faster than they could with their previous portal. “Our partnership with NTT DATA Services was crucial,” says Gani. “Even though there were a lot of unknowns for all of us, we worked together to learn and develop this first-of-its-kind solution, which meets our requirements and improves our competitiveness. The open architecture and open standards help us immensely by simplifying enhancements so we can keep our supply chain highly efficient.”