Mergers are a challenge for any company. If the newly formed company is to act as a coordinated entity, it must integrate all of its processes, systems and databases as quickly as possible. TanQuid GmbH & Co. KG, currently Germany's biggest independent tank terminal operator, was faced with this particular challenge in 2008. At that time, TanQuid was a business created from three newly merged companies with completely different system structures. It was clear what had to be done. The new company urgently needed a standard terminal management system that could draw upon the same data at all of its sites to enable centralized terminal control. A challenging project had begun. TanQuid selected the OpenTAS terminal management and automation system from Implico, a consulting and software company with many years of expertise in this field.
TanQuid was spun off from the VTG-Lehnkering Group as an independent tank storage company. It subsequently expanded with the acquisition of the Petroplus and IVG tank terminals sites. The company now owns 14 tank terminals with storage capacities of between 24,500 cubic meters and 878,000 cubic meters. It operates two further tank terminals on behalf of other companies. On January 1, 2012, the Transtank joint venture with BP Europa SE was added to the portfolio. Because OpenTAS had been used successfully for many years at the five sites of the former VTGTanklager (one of Implico's first customers), it did not take long for TanQuid senior management to decide that OpenTAS was the right solution for their new company too. The way forward was now clear: In the future all of the company’s sites would use the same latest release of OpenTAS.
A uniform data language
Thomas Knutzen, head of IT for TanQuid, remembers the start of the projects well: “We had in fact undertaken to complete three projects in one. We had to consolidate our data, import the new database into a new technical environment and then implement a new release of OpenTAS.”
Everyone involved was aware that the different data systems were unable to communicate with each other because they were based on different programming keys. Bernd Marschalk, Implico project manager, adds, “The most important thing was consolidating the data, because without doing that, we would not be able to carry out the system migration.”
In the three original companies, all the products, model types, transaction numbers and transaction codes were different. The first step towards building a common database was therefore to extract the data from the three different databases. This data extraction, analyzed in depth, the data in common. The analysis gave an overview of several thousand records. Out of this could be deduced which products were the best sellers and which product numbers had failed to generate any activity for some time. The project team then decided which records they wanted to keep. Specialists at Implico redefined the data keys in order to transfer them to the new system. “This paved the way for importing the master data from its various locations into OpenTAS at each migration date,” says Marschalk.
The whole project now focused on bringing all of the processes together and controlling them from a central point. We needed to make sure that the data systems at each site understood the same language. When they look back at this, Knutzen and Marschalk agree that they had set themselves a very ambitious goal. The more the project progressed, the more they began to appreciate its magnitude and complexity. The size of the team grew in size as a result. The team always had to bear in mind that, during the migration project, every change to the system would have consequences that could extend as far as the tank truck driver. It was more than simply a matter of integrating new software. Numerous processes – the logistics chain and working processes, for example – had to be aligned. The customer expected the coherent deployment of OpenTAS to make its processes more efficient and identical at all sites in the future.
Roll-out in record time
Following the data consolidation, OpenTAS 4.3 needed to be rolled out nationwide, initially at nine TanQuid tank farms. The Salzgitter site was the first in line. In April 2009, it was the first site to go live with the new OpenTAS release. The other eight terminals followed in close succession. Each terminal had local issues to contend with and therefore faced its own, unique challenges.
“The changeover dates brought their own problems. Migrating data in the middle of the month required particular care to ensure that the data was transferred accurately because we had to keep specific German regulations concerning taxation of energy in mind,” says TanQuid's head of IT, Thomas Knutzen. The obstacles were all dealt with, and in April 2010, the harmonization project successfully concluded with the migration of the Berlin terminal.
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