Hindustan Copper Limited (HCL) manufactures copper cathodes; continuous cast copper rod; and copper by-products, such as anode slime (containing minerals such as silver and gold), copper sulfate, and sulphuric acid. HCL’s mines and plants are spread across four operating units, one in each of the Indian states of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand, and Maharashtra.
HCL is the only organization in India that manufactures copper from the initial stages of mining of copper ore through to beneficiation, smelting, refining, and casting of refined copper metal into saleable products. The company operates under the administrative control of the Government of India’s Ministry of Mines.
HCL was established in 1967, and, over many years, the organization’s four sales offices, four factories, and six warehouses across India accumulated standalone software applications.
“This meant that financial reports, invoices, and customer orders were presented in different formats,” said Jayanta Mukherjee, senior manager, corporate marketing, Hindustan Copper Limited.
“For example, individual offices would compile their monthly accounts using Microsoft Excel spreadsheets and send e-mails or printed documents by post or fax to the head office in Kolkata, so they could be compiled into one report. This was an arduous and time-consuming process.
“We also have a number of staff members who are not computer literate, and, in the past, training them to use multiple applications was a challenge,” said Mukherjee.
In 2007, HCL realized it needed a centralized, standard system that could be used across the entire organization to streamline financial, ordering, invoicing, production, and human resources management processes.
In September 2007, HCL engaged Oracle Partner Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) to deploy Oracle E-Business Suite Release 12, specifically Oracle Financials, Oracle Supply Chain and Order Management Intelligence, Oracle Purchasing, Oracle Inventory Managemen, and Oracle Advanced Pricing, and Oracle Process Manufacturing. The company also deployed Oracle Human Resources, Oracle Payroll, and racle Self-Service Human Resources.
“Customers that purchase our copper products demand competitive pricing, easy access to our latest products, and the ability to view the status of their orders,” said Mukherjee. “Oracle
E-Business Suite is an integrated system that enables us to easily meet their requirements.”
HCL deployed Oracle Financials to automate its financial reporting processes. Accounts employees at each location use the centralized Web-based system to quickly and easily submit financial data, enabling the organization to complete consolidated monthly reports within five days.
Previously, financial reports could not be completed on a monthly basis because it took too long to consolidate the data. As a result, consolidated corporate financial reports were compiled manually at the end of each quarter.
“It previously took three to four months to close our accounts for the year,” said Mukherjee.
“We are now closing annual financial accounts for the entire organization within 15 days.”
Senior managers also have fast access to financial information, which helps them better manage monthly, quarterly, and annual sales targets to protect revenue, and easily monitor nonmoving inventory items, payables, and receivables in real-time.
“We have completely eliminated the need for data entry operators to feed data into the system, and for managers to send e-mails to accounts staff to get the appropriate financial data that they require,” said Mukherjee.
HCL uses Oracle Supply Chain and Order Management Intelligence to record the details of every customer order online, including the quantity of ordered products, such as copper rods and copper cathodes; prices; ship date; and the estimated time of arrival.
“Staff can provide customers with information about the status of their orders quickly, rather than spend time sending numerous e-mails to answer their queries, which has significantly improved our customer service,” said Mukherjee. “Previously, customers would have to call us directly if they wanted an update on their shipments.”
Oracle Inventory Management provided staff at HCL’s four regional sales offices and corporate office with a just-in-time view of inventory at its four factories and six warehouses across India. The system provides visibility of copper ore and finished goods, such as copper cathodes and continuous cast copper rods that are available at these locations at any time.
“As a result, our inventory holding costs have been reduced by around US$30 per metric ton,” said Mukherjee. “We sell around 2,000 metric tons of products every month, so we are saving around US$60,000 per month or US$720,000 annually. This helps us optimize profitability in a volatile copper market.”
Oracle Inventory Management is integrated with Oracle Purchasing, which is used by procurement staff to purchase raw materials for copper manufacturing and capital items, such as machinery, spare parts, fuel, and tools. Each HCL business unit can view items that have been purchased online and compare the current and past costs for these items, which was not available previously.
“The centralized purchasing system has introduced an online approval hierarchy that we haven’t had before, which helped us keep costs under control,” said Mukherjee. “It also ensures we have audit trails for every transaction, which is particularly important for a public sector organization like HCL. In fact, our internal auditors can complete their assessments three times faster, even though transactions are more complex.”
Oracle Advanced Pricing also enables HCL to offer multiple prices to its customers and gain more control over its pricing policies compared to the competition.
The organization can centrally manage and monitor these policies to ensure it delivers the best value to customers, based on how often, the type, and quantity of products they order. Customers are offered various price options, and they can make payments for products at any of the company’s sales offices.
“For example, we can offer customers five or six different prices at any point in time, which ensures we stay competitive in the copper market,” said Mukherjee.
“We have also stopped offering price discounts based on the quantity of copper product that was ordered. These discounts were as high as US$125 per metric ton of copper. Now, our maximum discount is US$20 per metric ton of copper, based on market conditions, which has helped protect our profitability.”
Oracle Process Manufacturing enables HCL to easily match the amount of copper products it manufactures with customer demand. This enables the organization to manufacture the exact amount required for customers as soon as the orders are received.
“This means we don’t need to keep the copper rod plant running unnecessarily because we know exactly how much copper we need to manufacture and when,” said Mukherjee. “As as a result, our primary finished copper plant is saving about US$120,000 in operations costs every year.
“The system also provides staff with online access to information that shows our raw material consumption at various locations and over certain periods of time. Staff uses this information to evaluate the cost of producing copper and to take corrective action to reduce raw material, power, fuel, and human resource costs at these locations.”
Oracle Human Resources is used to record each employee’s personal details, job role, department, qualifications, and appraisal results. The system will be connected to Oracle Payroll by the end of 2011, enabling the company to store and update this information online.
“We are planning to stop sending paper-based pay slips as our staff will be able to view their pay details online from January 2012,” said Mukherjee. “Staff also uses Oracle Self-Service Human Resources to view and amend their personal details and apply for leave online.”
During the initial tender process, HCL asked for submissions from Oracle and SAP. According to Mukherjee, Oracle E-Business Suite was less costly than the equivalent offering from SAP.
“The individual modules offered as part of Oracle E-Business Suite work well together—much better than other products in this market,” said Mukherjee.
“Oracle E-Business Suite can also be expanded as our business grows; we are planning to interface the applications with systems run by our customers, banks, and tax authorities. For example, we are hoping to get to a point where the company can upload its tax returns from the Oracle system into a tax portal provided by the Indian Government.
In September 2007, HCL engaged Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) to implement the system and provide support services for one year. Oracle Partner CSA Consultants has provided subsequent support.
During the project, TCS worked with HCL’s IT team to check and clean the organization’s existing data and migrate it to the new system. Each module was subsequently tested and certain members of each business unit were trained on how to use the system. These trainers then assisted the remaining staff.
The deployment was completed by October 2008 and the system is now used by around 200 HCL staff.
“Without TCS’ help, we would have not been able to complete this project in such a tight timeframe,” said Mukherjee. “TCS also provided the technical expertise required to ensure the project was a success.”