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SAP logistics key in British Gas smart meter rollout

Revamping its SAP logistics systems proved essential in a massive project by British Gas to replace the 53 million meters of its customers with smart meters. The equipment was of widely varying vintages and styles, from numerous partners and suppliers. Coordinating the return of old meters and shipping out new ones would be impossible without a fully integrated supply chain management (SCM) system.

"That's a huge logistical challenge," says Akhilesh Tiwari, global head of the SAP practice at Tata Consultancy Services, in a video interview at the 2015 Sapphire Now conference in Orlando, Fla. "The current state of the solution wasn't at a level where they could go and replace all of these meters in a very systematic manner."

Tata consulted with British Gas on the project, which involved revamping SAP logistics and warehousing systems as well as SAP SCM software for procurement and asset management, among other things.

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As a result, Tiwari says, the turnaround for smart meter replacement dropped from 117 to 75 days. "Their warehousing efficiency has improved by 35%," he says, adding that the project won three European supply chain awards.

In the video, Tiwari goes on to provide more details on the SAP logistics upgrade. "The target system needed to have a supply chain which would handle the scale that we're talking about -- which would also reduce the lag -- and at the same time, not keep it linear, so from one field to another field you should be able to switch smart meters."

Tata's involvement started with the initial design and requirements planning. "We were able to get SAP implemented with minimal customizations," Tiwari says.

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