Faced with a changing landscape in the automotive industry, Groupe CAT needed to be able to handle new communications protocols, streamline its operations and govern the flow of data
- Ability to win market share by offering new, highly secure communications protocols and file formats
- Improved agility and functionality, including fast and efficient mapping capabilities
- Built-in robustness and reliability via an active-active architecture and virtualization
- End-to-end monitoring of data flows, with customized dashboards, data analytics, and advanced reporting capabilities
A leader in automotive logistics with over half a century of experience, Groupe CAT is active in more than 25 countries worldwide. Each year, the company transports some 2.5 million finished vehicles, 250,000 motorbikes, and 600,000 spare parts and automotive components. With consolidated sales in 2013 of €1.1 billion for its two divisions — Vehicle Logistics and Cargo Logistics — Groupe CAT is a major player in the field.
Groupe CAT’s main clients are the major automobile manufacturers, including BMW, Volvo, Opel, and Ford. A former subsidiary of Renault, Groupe CAT maintains strong ties with the French manufacturer and generates approximately 50 percent of its turnover from business with the Renault/Nissan/Dacia alliance.
As a logistics specialist, Groupe CAT depends on its EDI systems to schedule and deliver automotive merchandise from manufacturers to distribution centers and dealerships. But the automotive EDI landscape is evolving rapidly as the industry adopts new communications protocols and file formats.
To stay in the running, logistics providers have to keep pace with these changes. Groupe CAT needed to move swiftly to deploy the new technologies to maintain its competitive advantage.
Meeting the challenge of new technologies
Ensuring rapid turnaround
“Our aim is to grow — and gain market share,” said Radouane Brigui, IT Architect & Integration Manager at Groupe CAT. “To do that, we have to meet our customers’ needs by handling any protocols and file formats they require — including new standards such as AS2 and OFPT2. That meant upgrading our capabilities.”
Rapid turnaround was also a priority, according to Brigui. “To win new customers, we need to be quick and agile — and map new data flows immediately after a contract is signed,” he said. “That means we needed a solution that’s streamlined and easy to use.”
Data governance was also a key criterion. “We needed end-to-end monitoring of data flows, for full traceability, with customized dashboards,” said Brigui. “We also wanted to be able to generate customized reports for our clients.”
“Our primary goal is to establish a central node for all our communications, based on the Axway solution.”
Radouane Brigui, IT Architect & Integration Manager, Groupe CAT
Partnership with Axway
Continuing a strong relationship
A long-time partner of Axway, Groupe CAT naturally looked to Axway to modernize its EDI processing. “We have a solid partnership with Axway, and the old system was at end-of-life,” said Brigui. “We needed a robust and scalable solution, with quick and efficient mapping capabilities, and Axway’s new solution fits the bill.”
Groupe CAT was facing another challenge: it had to transform its legacy back-office applications, which were designed in-house and no longer met current standards. The company therefore purchased third-party solutions to handle back-office processing for its Vehicle Logistics and Cargo Logistics business lines.
“We needed a secure, gradual migration from our old EDI system to the new one, which would be mapped onto the new back-office systems,” said Brigui. “We knew we could rely on Axway to make this a success.”
An ambitious undertaking
A central node for all communications
Groupe CAT has ambitious plans for the deployment of Axway B2Bi and Sentinel. “Our primary goal is to establish a central node for all our communications, based on the Axway solution,” said Brigui. “Currently, we have a heterogeneous system with a variety of communications tools. Once we have fully deployed the Axway solution, we can acquire and integrate other data flows.”
For example, Groupe CAT has plans for its independent subsidiaries. “I’d like to integrate them into the central information system,” said Brigui. “But for that to work, the solution has to be very robust — and highly scalable, to ensure there is no impact on performance.”
The Axway solution is designed for robustness and scalability by virtue of its architecture. “For us, a key advantage of the solution is its active-active cluster mode and virtualization,” said Brigui. “Tomorrow, if we decide to externalize our virtual machines to the cloud, it will be much easier to do.”
Deploying the Axway solution
Ensuring a secure migration in an outsourced setting
In a unique arrangement, Groupe CAT has outsourced virtually all of its IT activities, maintaining only 20 IT employees of its own. Under this facilities management approach, HP handles IT integration and administration on Groupe CAT premises, while Cognizant handles mapping tasks offshore.
The migration process, which is now underway, necessarily involves all these players. Axway is working closely with Groupe CAT to guide the migration. HP and Cognizant are assisting in the process, and will ultimately take over responsibility for operations.
Governing the flow of data
End-to-end monitoring with Sentinel
In its role as logistics provider, Groupe CAT generates some 50,000 EDI messages per day, including transport orders and cancellations. “Every message is important and many are highly time sensitive,” stressed Brigui. “If you have a transport order and don’t receive the cancellation message, there’s a cost associated with that, because you’re transporting vehicles. Those costs mount quickly.”
“That’s why we need a redundant, high-availability system,” said Brigui. “We have to be able to work 24/7. We can’t accept a blackout with a partner.” To monitor the system closely, Groupe CAT decided to deploy Axway Sentinel.
“Our goal with Sentinel is to provide end-to-end monitoring of EDI flows and detailed reporting to operations and marketing,” said Brigui. “We plan to use Sentinel as a tool for governing the flow of data from A to Z. That’s part of the added value of the Axway solution.”
Winning New Market Share
Improved agility and functionality
Once the migration to the new Axway solution is complete, Groupe CAT expects to enjoy a range of benefits:
- Ability to win market share. “We need to be able to handle the latest communications protocols if we want to win market share,” said Brigui. “We also have to be able to map data flows in a few hours rather than a few months. Axway’s solution gives us both capabilities.”
- Improved agility and functionality. In addition to providing fast and efficient mapping, Axway’s solution supplies new reporting capabilities, for in-house use and for customers. “With Sentinel, we can offer customers regular reports at no cost to them,” said Brigui. “It will make them very pleased indeed.”
- Robustness and reliability. These are built right into the Axway solution, with its active-active cluster modes and virtualization.
- End-to-end monitoring of data flows. With Sentinel, Groupe CAT can quickly and easily develop customized dashboards to monitor data flows with end-to-end visibility and a full range of data analytics capabilities.
- Reduced transmission costs. With new-generation protocols such as AS2, encrypted data can be safely transmitted over the public internet. This eliminates the need for costly, dedicated networks such as VPNs or VANs.
- Exchange of non-structured files. A new capability, provided by Axway SecureTransport, is the use of shared folders for the encrypted transmission of heavy documents that don’t conform to EDI file structure standards.
The added value of the Axway solution
Groupe CAT envisages a range of additional uses for the Axway solution. “Once the EDI migration is complete, Axway B2Bi will become the platform for all our communications — internal and external,” said Brigui. “For example, we’re going to use it for our application-to-application (A2A) communications.”
Farther down the line, Groupe CAT plans to deploy Web Services over the Axway platform. “We do not yet have a customer requesting Web Services, but there surely will be one soon,” said Brigui. “That’s part of the added value of the Axway solution: it helps us attract new business by enabling us to offer new services.”
“We plan to use Sentinel as a tool for governing the flow of data from A to Z. That’s part of the added value of the Axway solution.”
Radouane Brigui, IT Architect & Integration Manager, Groupe CAT