With long timelines and complex products, the automotive industry relies on accurate planning to succeed. Take it from Augustin Fabre, Controller in the Brake Business Unit of Hitachi Automotive Systems, a leading manufacturer of automotive braking solutions: “From the time we are chosen by a manufacturer to when we deliver a product is between two and four years,” he says. “We need a clear view of the future, so planning is very, very important.”
For years the company used a labor-intensive system of spreadsheets and databases to plan in its 15 entities. In 2012, before being acquired by Hitachi Automotive Systems when it was called Chassis Brakes International, the company created the clear view it wanted based on five connected Anaplan models:
- Sales planning forecasts sales volume seven years into the future. Leveraging third-party data on automakers’ plans, the model helps the Brake Business Unit decide which new projects and contracts they can win and how much they will sell.
- Capacity planning determines the industrial capacity and capital investments, such as machines and tooling, needed to support the sales plan.
- Purchasing planning calculates the raw materials and components needed to meet the capacity plan and provides a consolidated view of purchasing across all plants, which helps with vendor negotiations.
- Resource planning establishes the people needed to bring a product to market. Product development is a multi-year process, and each product requires a unique mix of roles depending on product complexity.
- Project finance integrates data from all of the plans to provide a rolling five-year outlook on cash the projects will generate. In the past, this “mid-term plan” was completed every two years; with Anaplan, it’s done annually.
“The sales plan is the starting point for every project,” Fabre explains. “From sales to cash, we now manage and track our business in Anaplan.” The system provides detailed business insights year-round and minimizes reaction time when conditions change.
Connected Anaplan models help Hitachi Automotive Systems’ Brake Business Unit monitor and manage its business from sales to cash.
“We now have a much clearer view of the future,” Fabre says. “If something changes on a project, everyone knows it immediately and can respond quickly.” In 2020, as the coronavirus shocked global automotive markets, this long-term view of sales, capacity, purchasing, and resource plans helped support accurate decision-making at the company.
That clear view of the company’s business plan was also used during the acquisition of Chassis Brakes International by Hitachi Automotive Systems in 2019. “With Anaplan, we have a very good overview of the business, its projects, and our profitability,” Fabre says. “It was easy to show that to a buyer.”
Promptly after the acquisition, the decision was made to bring other operations of the Brake Business Unit into Anaplan—a project that took Fabre just two months. Now, some 20 business entities worldwide share an accurate, agile planning solution. “With Anaplan, we are confident in our data and our capacity to react,” he notes. “None of this was possible before.”
About Hitachi Automotive Systems’ Brake Business Unit
Hitachi Automotive Systems’ Brake Business Unit is one of the world’s largest manufacturers of automotive braking solutions. Its products—disc brakes, drum brakes, electro-mechanical parking brakes and rotors—are dedicated to passenger cars, light commercial and two-wheeler vehicles through original equipment manufacturers and aftermarket distribution channels.