Success Story: REHAU Group

Managing worldwide A2A file transfer with Axway Transfer CFT

  • Headquarters

    Muri, Switzerland
  • Industry

  • Challenge

    Enable file transfer between disparate applications in a heterogeneous IT environment, while reducing the costs of worldwide coordination of sales, manufacturing, and  logistics processes

  • Solution

  • Results

    • Just-in-Time, Just-in-Sequence processing and a four-fold increase in efficiency with new time-to-market specifications
    • High degree of automation for data exchange with branch offices and production sites
    • Consistent interface for monitoring and control of all global file transfer processes, with minimal administration costs
    • Automatic data compression reduces volumes by about 90%
    • End-to-end monitoring standardized for transmission and downstream processing
    • Seamless integration with existing networks, hardware and applications
    • Investment protection with a single solution worldwide for all systems, languages and protocols

“We’re always going to have a heterogeneous IT environment and complex business processes. With Axway Transfer CFT, that’s not a problem. We use Transfer CFT for 100 percent of our internal data exchange. The entire system can be administered by just a few people because so many processes are flawlessly automated. There is simply no comparison between our Axway Transfer CFT solution and the file transfer methods of the past.” 

REHAU is a leading developer, manufacturer, and supplier of innovative polymerbased solutions for the global construction, automotive, and industry sectors. The company’s diverse product range includes everything from window and curtain technologies, to car bumpers and fenders, to air conditioning and aerospace systems.

With approximately 15,000 employees in more than 170 locations worldwide, coordinating business processes throughout the organization’s highly specialized and decentralized sales, production, and logistics operations requires innovation of another kind: application-to-application (A2A) managed file transfer.

Critical Processes Require Real-Time, Automated, and Highly Available Communication

For the last decade, REHAU has relied on Axway Transfer CFT to manage its complex internal data exchange requirements, which include automating transfers between disparate, distributed systems, ensuring security and high availability globally, and supporting Just-in-Time (JIT) / Just-in-Sequence (JIS) processing for its automobile OEM customers.

“As a global company, the first priority is to maintain our high quality and efficiency standards in every one of our plants around the world,” explains Thomas Schott, IT-Manager REHAU Group section leader of network/communication systems. “To do that, we need order, production, and logistics data to flow smoothly between mission-critical systems, preferably in real time.”

“As a global company, the first priority is to maintain our high quality and efficiency standards in every one of our plants around the world. To do that, we need order, production, and logistics data to flow smoothly between mission-critical systems, preferably in real time.”

Heterogeneous IT Environments and Supply Chain Applications

REHAU’s IT environment is powered by 16 iSeries AS400s, 700 PC servers, and two z800 mainframes. But this heterogeneous server landscape is only part of the challenge. “Each site has its own unique production and order management applications because it must support a unique type of production,” Schott says. “For example, while one location operates as a discrete manufacturer for construction, another operates as a process finisher.”

Adding to the complexity is the continuous evolution of industry standards and the company’s growth and expansion into new regions of the world, which requires support for more and more languages, the most recent addition being Cyrillic.

Automated File Transfer and Transaction Intelligence

To facilitate smooth business processes throughout the enterprise, a high volume of order, production, and control data needs to flow between plants, branch offices, and headquarters on a daily basis. And, just as REHAU maintains high quality standards for its products, its communication and IT infrastructure standards are correspondingly high. “We simply cannot afford to have a breakdown of our systems and communications,” says Dieter Kochut, a system manager in REHAU’s File Transfer division.

“In the beginning, our primary focus was to automate as many file transfer processes as possible,” he explains. “We also wanted to be able to bring intelligence to the data transfer in the future and increase the transmission of variables in order to control and process the data flexibly and dynamically. For example, we wanted to enable codepage conversions (Latin 1 and 2) and classification of the transmission according to data content.”

Axway Transfer CFT supports both goals. On average, 3,400 host files, 3,500 files from PCs, 1,700 Linux files, and 5,000 files from the IBM AS/400 servers are automatically exchanged and transformed every day. Orders are collected on the local AS/400 servers and conveyed to the host, which then generates and plans production orders. These are then forwarded to the appropriate manufacturing plants where transformation capabilities display data in any format a target system requires.

Assignment of logical names and logical devices enables SOA file transfer services. And transparent transport and compression procedures reduce data volume by 80 percent, significantly lightening the load on the network, especially the WAN.

End-to-end Reliability, Management and Monitoring

In addition to automating file transfer processes, the REHAU team also places reliability and centralized management capabilities at the top of the must-have list. “We need a solution that keeps administration costs low and at the same time provides maximum reliability and monitoring possibilities,” says Kochut.

Most processes are automated, and require no human intervention. If a transmission does fail, checkpoint/restart capabilities automatically start the transfer again at an interval the administrator specifies. Axway Transfer CFT also immediately alerts the administrator when a problem arises and, if necessary, provides manual intervention options.

To simplify administration even further, REHAU uses Axway Transfer CFT for centralized browser-based management and monitoring. “Installation took just a few minutes, and it allows administrators to see and control what is happening across all of our networks and servers using a consistent interface,” he explains. “This is important because, in our environment, the host is not the only entity in charge. Every system within the network is on equal footing to communicate with others.”

The Foundation for Long-term Success

Axway Transfer CFT is the cornerstone of a long-term managed file transfer strategy at REHAU. “We’re always going to have a heterogeneous IT environment and complex business processes,” Schott explains. “With Axway Transfer CFT, that’s not a problem. We use it for 100 percent of internal data exchange, and the entire system can be administered by just a few people because so many processes are flawlessly automated. There is simply no comparison between our Axway Transfer CFT solution and the file transfer methods of the past.”

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