Rinnai Australia is undergoing a multi-year IT transformation spanning consolidation of its operations onto a single enterprise resource planning (ERP) system and shifting enterprise reporting into the cloud.
In this week’s episode of the iTnews Podcast, ICT business services manager Samir Shah runs through the company’s transformation to date, and looks to a future where more of its platforms are likely to run in the cloud.
Shah is part of the Australian arm of Rinnai, a multinational Japanese corporation well-known for its domestic hot water, heating and cooling systems.
But the company also supplies heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems for commercial premises, and - since acquiring Brivis Climate Systems at the end of 2014 - is also a manufacturer; it built its own large manufacturing facility in Melbourne in 2017.
Shah is in his second stint with Rinnai Australia. He first did four years at the company from 2009 “helping them with the ERP migration from their ‘green screen’ onto Oracle JD Edwards (JDE) EnterpriseOne.”
He left in 2013, but returned again in April 2016 and has been there since.
“In my first time at Rinnai, the company was mainly a distribution and wholesale business,” Shah said.
“Coming back the second time, they’d bought Brivis … and also Rinnai Australia itself made a large investment in setting up a new manufacturing facility in Melbourne.
“That direction to move from a distribution/wholesaler to a manufacturer as well created a lot of challenges from an IT perspective.”
One of the major challenges was that Brivis ran off a completely different ERP system - Infor M3.
That put integration and consolidation on the cards: integration of the two on-premises ERP systems first so that critical finance and production data could be exchanged, and eventually consolidation of everything in M3 to Rinnai’s existing JDE environment.
To integrate the two ERPs, Rinnai ran Oracle Soar, a set of migration tools that are now more commonly used for migrating on-premises workloads into the cloud than this use case, which was connecting two ERPs to enable them to exchange data.
Shah said that although the end goal was to ultimately just run a single ERP, the project was complicated and would take time.
“We needed to run these two ERP systems side-by-side for some time because it was not a ‘big bang’ approach [to ERP consoliodation],” he said.
“We needed an integration platform which Rinnai Australia previously didn't have.”
By using Soar, Shah’s team was able to “develop the integration between these two ERP systems” and complete the gradual migration away from M3.
“The Oracle Soar helped us to bring all the general leder transactions from infor into JDE so that our finance team could then do a consolidation and reporting,” Shah said.
“For manufacturing, we also needed the data from production and forecast numbers from Oracle JDE onto Infor M3.
“So there was an interface both ways for a couple of years until we did the last migration of [Infor M3 capabilities] and completed the full consolidation project.”
The business has been running end-to-end on the single on-premises JDE ERP now for two years.
Shah said the company would look at its options sometime next year to migrate the servers that run its ERP system to Oracle cloud.
More recently, Shah’s team has focused its efforts on setting up a disaster recovery (DR) option for the ERP system that is hosted in Oracle cloud.
The team is also in the process of upgrading its enterprise reporting suite of tools to also run in the cloud, selecting Oracle analytics cloud and server (OACS), and upgrading its budget forecasting using Oracle Essbase to replace an older Cognos TM1 system.
The reporting upgrades are expected to be completed by the end of the year.
Shah said that transformation at Rinnai Australia had so far been substantial.
“We took seven or eight years of work and did it in three or four years,” he said.
The new technology foundations had set a new standard for what Rinnai Australia could strive to achieve.
“What excites me at the moment is if I look back five years, from when I re-joined to now, what we have achieved,” he said.
“What excites me is that we have laid down this platform now, and what we are saying to the business is that we have all the tools to help you make improvements, enhancements and new investments.
“From an IT perspective, we have a lot of options now to offer to the business and take on any challenge to further automate and improve business processes.”