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September 18, 2014updated 22 Sep 2016 11:40am

Managing the equipment that is used to ask the big questions

Case Study: How CERN uses asset management to underpin its scientific research.

By Vinod

To many workers, in-house apps or services are something to be learnt, understood, and then tolerated throughout their careers, serving a range of purposes from financial management to HR scheduling. But how much do we really understand of how these apps, and the infrastructure behind them, actually help?

CERN, the European research center located on the Franco Swiss border best known for its Large Hadron Collider facility and its quest to discover the secrets behind how matter began existing in the universe. Respected and admired around the world, CERN is an Infor customer, but not perhaps in the field you might immediately expect.

Systems Engineer at CERN and Infor Project Manager Pedro Martel is a key player in the organisation’s IT department, and was able to describe the advantages of working with a range of Infor services, particularly the company’s Enterprise Asset Management (EAM) product.

CERN uses EAM software to track maintenance and upkeep of over one million pieces of crucial scientific equipment used in major projects such as the Large Hadron Collider. The organisation has been working with Infor since 1997, when it adopted a data management solution which eventually became Infor EAM.

Alongside its huge inventory of equipment, CERN uses about 50 external service providers, using a wide range of service agreements and contracts are used, meaning the company was looking for a flexible system to keep track of all the various details.

Maintenance is a huge part of ensuring CERN’s work is accurate and successful, with more than 180,000 work orders generated per year. Martel explained how at least 30,000 of these were to do with work relating to CERN’s network of over 500 buildings, ranging from tasks such as caretaking and gardening to ensuring heating and cooling systems were fully operational.

"At CERN, maintenance starts as soon as an event has been generated in the Infor EAM system. If the solution is not available, maintenance cannot be carried out," he said.

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In tribute to its successful usage, CERN was even named as "Infor Customer of the Year" at Inforum, being praised for its success in utilising the company’s services to help improve and develop their own operations.

"As a publically funded international non-profit organisation, it is of optimal importance for us to adhere to a strict level of operational efficiency. We are helped in this task by the Infor asset-management solutions," said David Widegren, CERN’s head of engineering processes support.

"CERN is an excellent example for organisations that are seeking a technology platform to help reduce operational costs while improving overall efficiency," Stephan Scholl, president of Infor said of the award.

Inforum took place in the US city of New Orleans this week. Infor says it has over 73,000 users worldwide, including 72% of American hospitals and 95% of the largest aerospace companies, Infor says it is the third largest private technology company in the US, providing a wide range of services to customers in a number of very different verticals.

Another customer successfully utilising Infor’s product offering is UK-based Reynolds Catering. From its humble beginnings supplying goods to the like of Covent Garden and Spitalfields markets, it has steadily grown to become one of the country’s leading food suppliers, with revenues of over £200m.

Some of the biggest names in the catering industry such as Pret-A-Manger, Carluccios and Pizza Express, alongside premier hotel groups such as Hyatt and Accor, rely on Reynolds to supply them with the highest quality produce, including fresh fruit, salad and vegetables, cheese and other dairy products.

This means that fast and direct delivery is an essential part of its business, with the company’s central distribution facility at Waltham Cross in Hertfordshire processing more than 3,000 orders of more than 3000 different products daily through a fleet of 200 vehicles.

The company chose Infor’s M3 ERP systems to help them manage these orders thanks to several key features in the offering, Richard Calder, Reynolds’ IT and business systems manager, told CBR.

The choice was an important one, Calder said, representing a £4m investment that could prove extremely important in helping the company establish itself as a nationwide presence. Reynolds Catering started working with M3 in October 2010, and the company was quickly impressed with the ease of use and help provided by the Infor team, even with the previous generation of the company’s software.

"(M3) won as it really understood the food industry," Calder said, "Infor didn’t just install the software and leave – they’re always looking at new methods."

The system has helped provide a range of benefits for Reynolds Catering, not least in cutting costs and reducing wastage of expired produce. Calder says that system’s advanced reporting service has helped the company improve the efficiency of key processes across the business as a whole, with M3 becoming an embedded business system rather than just the domain of the IT department.

So far from being a headache, ERP software and its cloud cousins can play a vital role in how a business operates and grows. With its activities across a wide range of verticals, Infor has certainly proved how this success is achievable, and can be open to anyone lucky enough to utilise the right solutions.


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