Managing the Flow: CSI optimises IT for Weir Flow Control

CSI wins and retains tender for management of ERP system based on IBM iSeries

Glasgow-based Weir Group is one of the world’s leading engineering businesses. The company designs, manufactures and services innovative solutions that make minerals, oil gas, and power industry customers more efficient.

With three divisions, a 14,000-strong workforce in more than 70 countries, and a worldwide network of around 200 manufacturing and service facilities, Weir aims to be a partner of choice to its customers. It is therefore important that its IT systems are optimised as much as possible.

Weir’s Flow Control division comprises eight companies and accounts for up to a third of the firm’s revenue. Utilised by hundreds of employees each day, Weir Flow Control’s ERP system is essential to the division’s day-to-day running and without it, business could grind to a halt.

“If the ERP system is down for even a day, factories wouldn’t be able to operate; we couldn’t issue invoices; it would bring our business to a halt,” explains John Hailey, Information Systems Manager, Weir Flow Control.

With this in mind, the company needed a 24/7, 365 days a year monitoring solution for the ERP system, which is hosted in a data centre. The firm also required a managed service to keep the iSeries-based system up to date and running.

According to Hailey: “Although we could have managed the system ourselves and recruited people, it’s one piece of infrastructure that doesn’t scale very well.”

“You would need up to three people working on this, so there’s additional cost and training,” he explains. “Therefore it’s much easier for me to outsource the management of hardware and maintenance to an external company.”

The solution was already being managed, but Weir decided to put the contract out for tender. After a tender between three companies, it awarded the business to managed services provider CSI.

Weir chose CSI for a combination of reasons. The first was its size: “In some ways it’s small compared with IBM – but they are big enough that they have a number of technical experts,”

John Hailey, Information Systems Manager, Weir Flow Control.

In addition, he says: “We believe they have the capability to deliver the service; the commercial terms were compelling; they represented good value. They seemed competent.”

Also, because the ERP solution is so critical to Weir Flow, it is integral that it is maintained by a trustworthy and competent company. Therefore, Hailey explains: “It takes trust in what the company is doing to win a tender like this one.”

Weir selected CSI in February 2014 and has been very satisfied with the service, leading it to renew the contract every year since. “The service has been good,” Hailey says. “CSI’s monitoring is proactive, their technical management is good, and they have monthly service reviews.”

Cloud use is growing, but firms are struggling to optimise and maintain legacy systems as cyber attacks surge. Like all businesses, Weir has to battle with a cyber security landscape that is becoming more sophisticated. There has been a rise in ransomware and ransomware-as-a-service, says Hailey. “This keeps us awake at night and drives the importance of being able to store back up.”

Weir has been fortunate: The very few times it has been affected by ransomware, it has always been able to restore the files from back up.

However, Hailey says, in this ever-more complex cyber security landscape, transparency from suppliers is key. He explains: “We have had issues over the last couple of years but CSI won’t hide them – they are open and honest and if there is a problem they will work with you to fix it.”

The benefits of moving to CSI have been significant, resulting in huge efficiency gains through IT optimisation. As part of this, Hailey cites CSI’s managed service annual health check on the infrastructure as a significant advantage. “This gives us skill sets we don’t have internally,” he says. “It helps us to improve the performance of our infrastructure; we can remove redundant data and re-allocate CPU to specific applications that require it.”

Hailey adds: “This clears up so much space and makes capacity available for existing infrastructure, which prevents us having to invest.”

According to Hailey, key to CSI’s success is Weir’s trust in its service.

“Trust is earned and I believe CSI has earned our trust as a managed service provider.”

John Hailey, Information Systems Manager, Weir Flow Control.

Using a managed service provider such as CSI also reduces complexity and has taken away the pressure of being responsible for compliance. CSI’s contract is coming up for renewal in 2017, at which point, Hailey says Weir will consider adding CSI’s iSeries on cloud offering.

In addition, says Hailey, due to the continuing success of the partnership, CSI will always be considered for future projects. “Although we don’t have any projects in the pipeline at the moment, CSI has managed to achieve a position where if they put forward a tender for anything in IT they would certainly be considered.”

About the Weir Group

Founded in 1871, The Weir Group PLC is based in Glasgow, Scotland and is one of the world’s leading engineering businesses. Weir designs, manufactures and services innovative solutions which make our minerals, oil and gas, power and other process industry customers more efficient. This is recognised in the global leadership positions we have developed in our core markets. The Group aims to be a partner of choice to our customers with a worldwide network of around 200 manufacturing and service facilities. Weir has a presence in more than 70 countries, with over 14,000 people around the world working in three divisions: Minerals, Oil & Gas and Flow Control.