In the coming years, the Swiss technology group Bühler AG will be renewing the core systems of its corporate management and migrating its existing R/3 applications to the latest SAP technology SAP S/4HANA. “We are deliberately investing in an anticyclical manner during the pandemic to keep us fit for the future,” said Stefan Scheiber, CEO of Bühler, in a virtual meeting held in mid-November with Christian Klein, CEO of SAP. The drastically simplified data architecture and the inherent intelligence of SAP S/4HANA promises a new level of efficiency and transparency in the use of the systems. “As a company, we want to significantly improve our processes worldwide and thus increase the performance of our company,” says Scheiber.
Bühler has been an SAP user from the very beginning. The company introduced the first applications of the Walldorf-based market leader for business software as early as the late 1970s, that is, more than 40 years ago. In 1998, the company changed to R/3, and since then, Bühler has used SAP software to build a uniform, global management system with a focus on the core processes of finance and controlling, purchasing, manufacturing, customer services, project execution, and single machine business. A total of 33 Bühler affiliates around the globe are integrated on a single SAP client. More than 13 million financial transactions, 2.5 million purchasing processes, 65,000 production orders, 140,000 deliveries, and 2,500 customer projects are handled annually via this digital nervous system.
After more than 20 years in use, the Bühler R/3 application has now reached the end of its life cycle: “In order to activate the new possibilities of digital applications including artificial intelligence and machine learning for corporate control, we are now migrating to SAP S/4HANA,” says Scheiber. The project is in the context of Bühler’s comprehensive digitization strategy, starting with its own Bühler Insights industry platform with a wide range of digital services, the myBühler e-commerce solution, and extending to the virtualization of customer communication with the Bühler Virtual World.
Leveraging advances in hardware and bandwidth, SAP S/4HANA granularly structures and stores data in a flat data model. Using intelligent algorithms, the system is then able to process the data in real time, flexibly analyze and evaluate it, automate processes, and create simulation scenarios, for example, forecasts for sales, warehousing, or liquidity. New, ergonomic user interfaces allow users to start their activities on a digital dashboard, prioritize generated data in real time based on given operational metrics, and navigate from the dashboard directly to the respective target application. “With increased automation of transactions, SAP S/4HANA enables us to increase the reliability and efficiency of Bühler’s core processes and to create the prerequisites for proactive, forward-looking corporate management with intelligent analysis methods,” says Jan Gilg, President SAP S/4HANA.
The transformation to SAP S/4HANA will go live in about one and a half years. “To fully exploit the potential of the software tool, we have to do our homework in parallel. We have already tackled this preliminary work,” says Manfred Goetz, CIO at Bühler. This includes data cleansing and the further development and simplification of our business processes, for example in project execution, customer service, factory management and financial accounting. “SAP is a central technology partner for us, and we are looking forward to this complex and promising project with high expectations,” says Goetz.