The standardisation and continuous optimisation of processes are two key pillars of the renowned Toyota Production System. Organisations the world over have adopted the car maker’s philosophy, which also serves as a blueprint for Toyota’s own partner landscape. When the IT connectivity between the manufacturer and its dense service and distribution network in Germany was due for an overhaul, Bechtle took the lead of the country-wide project. Despite a tight schedule, the project was a seamless collaboration that resulted in a future-oriented network infrastructure complete with a matching service model.
Pictures: © Toyota Deutschland GmbH
The more partners access a manufacturer’s central IT resources, the bigger the ripples that can disturb the entire ecosystem. With some 400 dealerships and service partners at 650 locations peppered across Germany, Toyota is a presence all over the country. A Dealer Management System (DMS) enables sellers to interact with Toyota across a great variety of digital business processes—from sourcing vehicles, to stocking spare parts, to marketing and analytics. The DNS, which is the software fabric between the trade partners and the IT systems hosted by Toyota Germany, rests on a physical network infrastructure that plays a huge role in making sure that transferring data is a smooth and secure experience. “Toyota wanted to establish a new VPN router standard to access its systems as part of a larger, group-wide security concept,” says Daniel Sieberichs, Key Account Manager, Bechtle Aachen. A proven hardware partner for Toyota dealerships in Germany, Bechtle was commissioned in October 2020 to realise the modernisation. The target timeline was highly ambitious, aiming to integrate every dealer into the new concept by no later than the end of March 2021. A true multi-client project, it would encompass installations that run the length of Germany, integrating small family businesses to large dealerships with multiple branches. Not something that happens at the push of a button… or is it?
“We were very aware that we are going to need a clearly structured, step-by-step approach to make sure we can modernise the underlying infrastructure without disrupting life operations,” explains Marlon Bergerhausen, Project Manager, Bechtle Aachen. After Toyota Deutschland GmbH had briefed its partners on the planned modernisation, Bechtle approached the individual companies in order to inform them of the exact scope, objectives and execution of the change project. “We compiled a guidebook and also met with many key staff, which allowed us to quickly identify the critical challenges that lay ahead of us,” says Marlon Bergerhausen. The router solution to be installed at the sites—a Cisco Meraki MX64 appliance each—was made available to the dealerships through dedicated e-procurement shops, where they could order the required hardware at fixed conditions and pre-configured to Toyota specifications by Bechtle.
The Japan-based Toyota Motor Corporation was founded in 1937 and is one of the world’s biggest car makers. The company first set foot in Germany in the 1970s, and is today operating through Toyota Deutschland GmbH located in Cologne. Toyota relies on a partner network of around 400 dealerships with 9,700 people working at 650 sites across the country.
Further information: toyota.de
Besides Bechtle’s experience with Cisco’s Meraki technology, what appealed to us was the extensive competence in service delivery, which allowed us to offer our partners a simple all-inclusive bundle.
Alex Porschen, Manager IT System Engineering, Toyota Deutschland GmbH
The hardware concept optimally leverages the benefits of Meraki technology, with cloud-managed routers integrated into a centralised monitoring solution. Once the new setup was complete, Bechtle was to take on ongoing operations under a full-service agreement. Consequently, a commissioned data processing contract was added to the contractual landscape with the Toyota dealerships. “Besides Bechtle’s experience with Cisco’s Meraki technology, what appealed to us was the extensive competence in service delivery, which allowed us to offer our partners a simple all-inclusive bundle. Bechtle also saw to it that we made full use of accessible state funding for the modernisation project and handled all associated paperwork,” says Alex Porschen, Manager IT Systems Engineering, Toyota Deutschland GmbH.
This “make-it-easy” package by Bechtle didn’t merely include simple call-off ordering of a turnkey product, but also a start-up—at the touch of a button, so to speak. “Once the hardware shipped, we followed right up to schedule its implementation. The routers were then connected remotely with guidance from our systems engineers,” says Daniel Sieberichs, a lean process that took up no more than an hour of the customers’ time, and often just a fraction of that. Following the launch of the implementation phase of the project in early December, Bechtle gradually hooked up several hundred routers, putting one pin in the map after the other. Together with Toyota, Bechtle created weekly progress reports. “The project was perfectly orchestrated at all times, so we were able to realise our target network infrastructure just as planned. Bechtle has set an outstanding example of a tiered, decentralised rollout,” says Ralf Winkens, Senior Systems Engineer, Server and Network, Toyota Deutschland GmbH.
© Harald Dawo, Toyota
At Toyota’s data centres in Germany, Bechtle also ensured the heat of the network was in healthy shape, backing up the IT interfaces with the car dealers with a complementary DNS server and Meraki MX250 router. A central Cisco Meraki dashboard managed by Bechtle Aachen’s service desk offers complete real-time transparency into the entire infrastructure. “This means that Toyota’s partners can be sure we’re always on top of any issues that may arise and resolve them before they become a disruption,” explains Marlon Bergerhausen. Depending on the assistance required, support is provided both remotely and on site, anywhere in Germany, any time. Daniel Sieberichs: “Integrating the sites into a full-service concept is a real load off the individual dealers’ IT admins. At the same time, we have achieved a very high level of unification of Toyota’s underlying infrastructure, making it much more resilient. All in all, it’s a win-win solution.
Key Account Manager,
Bechtle IT system house Aachen
Bechtle IT system house Aachen
This article is taken from the print edition of Bechtle updates 2.2021. You can order or subscribe to the print edition free of charge or download it as a pdf file.
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Published on Nov 17, 2021.