How BHEL is consolidating systems to improve efficiency and reducing cost

Bhel pic

Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL) is India’s largest power plant equipment manufacturer and also one of the leading engineering and manufacturing company in the country. Out of the available 35,000 MW per annum capacity for power plant equipment manufacturing in the country, BHEL alone constitutes a mammoth 20,000 MW per annum capacity. Rajiv Garg, Executive Director, Corporate Digital Transformation, Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd talks to Ankush Kumar on how strategic IT interventions at the maharatna PSU is transforming its businesses.

“Our IT department has been reorganized and now it is known as CDT (Corporate Digital Transformation) says Rajiv Garg, Executive Director, Corporate Digital Transformation, BHEL.” He informs that the company has moved far ahead of the traditional IT practices and now the business side of technology is taking the lead. “Its no more a back end IT operations as we are now more focused towards digitization. Normally, the IT function is based on three pillars infrastructure and services, systems applications development, and information security. With CDT there are two additional sub-functions that are there – one is with digital strategy and governance and secondly, with respect to the products and solutions. In these two functions we have more connectivity with the business.”

Key technological interventions

Elucidating on the IT framework and some of the key initiatives that have been revolutionary in shaping the company’s overall growth Garg said, “we don’t have a centralized IT per say, we have a federal structure where the business units have their own IT team and then there is a corporate IT which is basically related to the Governance and certain corporate projects. Mostly the contribution of the corporate IT was from the network side as it cant be created just by one of the units.”

Bhel is the first PSU to introduce the reverse auction informs Garg. “We have reverse auction embedded in most of our procurement process. So wherever there are four or more than four bids, reverse auction is mandatory. In 2004, we also started one key initiative in the information security space. As all our units and locations are now ISMS 27001 certified, we have permitted our units to go for their own internet gateways because infrastructure was not very strong and it was difficult to have a centralized gateway. But still we have two centralized internet gateway; one in Noida and the other in Hyderabad for our project sites at small locations. The number of gateways was 29 and we have already consolidated six of them and finally we want to have only nine internet gateways to have proper control on the security, plus the investment will also come down.”

The other turnaround moments for the company was the adoption of video conferencing, informs Garg, “we have adopted video conferencing in a big way as all of our business transactions are on video confederating. This has resulted in huge savings in travel time as well as in monetary terms. We have video-wall setup and we are working with multiple vendors through various system integrators.”

Consolidation for cost minimization

The leading power plant PSU is consolidating most of its processes and systems to save cost. “In every two years or so we refresh our total hardware. Our model is not outright purchase, we do it on a five year financial lease. The major reason is that we have the remote sites where even the quality PC will not be available because their requirement will be very small around 8-12 PC. Once we do the consolidation we will get good SLA (service level agreement) even for the remote sites,” added Garg.

On the ERP front also the company is trying to do the consolidation, he informs. “At the moment BHEL has end-to-end systems running in the units. Some units have Oracle based home grown systems and some have ERP, therefore we want to do in single instance known as One-BHEL but unfortunately in the last two years we couldn’t get a good response in terms of tender. One-BHEL will be a total business transformation because we would be able to do the standardization and harmonization of processes across the country. All the units have their own business processes so that is one prospect, secondly we also get information on demand because we are project oriented company. So with One-BHEL we can get the status of the project in a real time basis rather than getting in silos and then try to assemble it.”

“On the technology side we have done virtualization where we are able to do a lot of savings, both on the licenses side and on the hardware side. Similarly,earlier we were running four instances of Oracle for one application so that consolidation was huge savings for us.”

Present focus and eGoveranace initiatives

From the last six – seven months our focus is on mobility, vertualization and IoT explains Garg. “As our organization is a vastly spread organization therefore, we are identifying IoT projects from all the units like IoT applications for remote monitoring, solar power plants, energy management system, RFID based material tracking, data center monitoring, GPRS based logistics, etc. Our philosophy is to initiate smaller projects of 4-5 months and replicate them. Most of our applications were web-based so now we are taking all these application on mobile and to secure these we have also built a playstore on Android. We will made it available on IOS as well. Also we have developed an in-house application for sharing larger files through email within the company. All the back-end authentication of these applications happens through SAP HR.”

Under the eGovernance activities the adoption of UHMS (Unified Health Medical Scheme) for BHEL hospitals have been a major highlight. “Earlier for doctor referral patients needed to come personally but now we are making that online. So the referral will automatically reach the hospital where the patients has been referred. Therefore, in the second phase we will take this to the retired employees where they can also log in and can get the claim status.”

“Another thing that we have done is our NOC system, as earlier when a person quits the organisation he has to get approvals from 15 different departments which was very tedious but now that is made online. Similarly, vigilance clearance was manual but now we have made it online. The focus of IT is shifting from back office to three areas ie product innovation, operational excellence, and customer centric activity,” explains Garg.

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