KEMET Electronics confronts aging infrastructure by embracing digital transformation
When KEMET Electronics, a 16,000-employee global manufacturer of high-end electronic components, sought to modernize its operations, it faced a common challenge: Even as an engineering-driven company with an excellent grasp of technology, its infrastructure was decades old. To move forward, that had to change, and the company's IT team knew it couldn't do it alone.
"We were relying on 10- to 20-year-old infrastructure in many of our plants and facilities," says Chris Hall, senior vice president of IT and CIO at KEMET, which has 20-plus manufacturing facilities across the Americas, Asia, and Europe. "It was just not possible to make the digital transformation changes we needed using legacy technology. Modern cybersecurity, IoT, AI/ML, and modern business intelligence platforms rely on lower latency and higher bandwidth than traditional systems like ERP. Attempting our transformation without improving our base infrastructure would be like renovating your house without fixing the rusted-out pipes."
To meet the demands of digital transformation, KEMET realized that automation was also key within its environment. "You can have the best application platform in the world, but if you can't keep up with the business from a change perspective on the infrastructure and software side, does it really matter?" Hall says.
Everyone has a role to play
"It's a balancing act," he says. "You need to ensure you have a plan for upgrading the digital operations and the network infrastructure and then understand your technical challenges as you deploy automation. You strike a balance when you also get support from the business and your IT team."
KEMET's infrastructure solution included deploying Aruba indoor access points, switches, cloud-based network management tools, and network access control to bring the company's networks into the 21st century.
It's critical to show fearful workers that automation will not take away their jobs but instead create efficiencies that can improve their work, Hall says. "You need to communicate the benefits of the new infrastructure and automation to get the buy-in from the top down and the bottom up."
Hall promotes measuring performance gains along the way. His team has shown where processes have improved with the new infrastructure and automation versus the old environment and way of doing things. At KEMET, the comparisons have allowed everyone from the C-suite to the sales reps to the line workers on the factory floor to see the results and realize the benefits. "Even our CEO and COO … can't imagine going back to the way it was," Hall says.
Collaboration and cost savings
"A lot of the things that we have enabled are due to cloud-based computing and a network infrastructure that supports an edge-to-cloud environment like ours," Hall says. "The biggest impact is how we operate as a global company."
Significant benefits include "the collaboration that we have begun to enjoy during the pandemic and our ability to quickly and securely deploy new IoT solutions," he adds. "One of the biggest items to impact our business to date is what we're doing with IoT. It is going to save us eight figures annually in the coming years. The projects we've implemented have already paid for the underlying technology in the first year of existence, and the rest is just savings potential for the foreseeable future."
Based on the success of these ongoing automation efforts, KEMET's parent company, Taiwan-based Yageo, has tasked Hall's global IT team with leading the digital transformation for other parts of the organization. Working in partnership with Aruba, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise company, Hall is confident that the same benefits that have taken KEMET's networking platform to the next level will soon be shared by more of the larger Yageo Group.
This article/content was written by the individual writer identified and does not necessarily reflect the view of Hewlett Packard Enterprise Company.