Unilever supply chain efficiency

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Domestos, Lux, Knorr, Hellmanns, and Flora are just some of the 400 home, personal care and food products manufactured by Unilever. In North America, the company, which operates in 100 countries around the globe, has two distinct divisions: Unilever Bestfoods and Unilever Home and Personal Care (HPC).

To meet customer demand - 150 million times a day, someone somewhere is choosing a Unilever product - the company must ensure a constant supply of its merchandise to retail outlets around the globe. In addition to ensuring efficient distribution, Unilever must also maintain excellent product quality standards.

The companys databases underpin a number of core business processes - from procurement to sales and distribution. To optimize the databases used by its North American divisions, Unilever deployed a CA Database Management solution that simplifies routine administration tasks and minimizes downtime. By increasing database performance and utilization, Unilevers North American have been able to reduce operating costs and improve efficiency thereby ensure supply chain continuity and quality manufacturing processes.

With 400 brands spanning 14 categories of home, personal care and food products, Unilever touches peoples lives in many ways. Some of its most popular brands include Domestos, Lux, Knorr, Hellmanns, Lipton and Flora. Unilever is dedicated to helping people get more out of life through its products, and conducts extensive consumer research to ensure that its brands meet the changing tastes, lifestyles and expectations of its millions of customers around the world.

Maintaining a seamless supply chain and product quality

With such a vast product portfolio, Unilever Bestfoods and Unilever HPC have a highly complex supply chain and production line. One of Unilevers core goals is to provide people with food they can trust and this means ensuring the highest levels of control throughout the sourcing, manufacturing and distribution of its products.

To manage day-to-day activities, the two North American divisions depend on an extensive enterprise resource planning (ERP) system, which is supported by a number of extremely large databases. The ERP system supports a range of core business processes, such as sales, distribution, procurement and finance. As a result, both the SAP ERP applications and Oracle databases must be both highly available and scalable to cope with the companys activities.

Unilever Bestfoods uses approximately 500 gigabytes of disk space in its production environment, while the HPC division uses another 150 gigabytes. Both divisions also keep up to seven copies of this data for development and testing. This means Unilevers database administrators are locked in a constant balancing act to ensure the optimum performance of the ERP applications, while at the same time control the growth of the companys databases.

As Cathy Doyle, Manager of IT for Unilever Bestfoods, explains, Reducing database fragmentation is a key concern for us, both in terms of performance and disk space usage. Equally important is the speed at which we can perform database maintenance to ensure business operations are not disrupted.

Getting to grips with data

To help increase the efficiency of data management across the business, Unilever deployed a CA Database Management solution to enable it to dramatically simplify routine administration tasks as well as increase application availability. The solution, which is based on the CA TSreorg and Fast Unload products, achieves these results by enabling Unilever to extract and organize information in its databases quickly
and reliably.

In particular, Unilever has been impressed with the solutions failure prediction feature. As Sharon Peterson, Lead Database Administrator for Unilever Bestfoods, explains, Running out of disk space in the middle of a reorg can double the amount of time the process takes. With CAs Database Management solution, this is no longer a worry, which means we are able to reduce database downtime. The solution minimizes downtime by enabling database administrators to unload and reorganize data while mission-critical applications remain online.

Achieving maximum performance with minimum downtime

In a mission-critical IT environment like Unilevers, Doyle and Petersons teams must squeeze every ounce of performance from their databases, while also conserving disk space. This is a tall order, but with the CA Database Management solution, the Unilever administrators are able to achieve just this - and with minimal impact on end-users.

By optimizing its database performance and utilization, Unilevers North American divisions
have been able to:

Improve operational efficiency
Ensure the continuity of supply chain and manufacturing processes
Reduce operating costs.

These financial savings have primarily been made through the reclamation of massive amounts of disk space. For example, when Unilever Bestfoods implemented a new ERP application, it consumed a large amount of disk space. However, with the CA Database Management solution, Unilever was able to recover almost 500 gigabytes of disk space - eliminating the need to spend money on more hardware and increasing the performance of the new application.


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