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European EDI gateway for Hitachi Europe


Hitachi Europe

About Hitachi Ltd.

Hitachi, Ltd., (NYSE: HIT / TSE: 6501), headquartered in Tokyo, Japan, is a leading global electronics company with approximately 400,000 employees worldwide. In fiscal 2008 (ended March 31, 2009) consolidated revenues totalled 10,000 billion yen (US$102.0 billion). The company offers a wide range of systems, products and services in market sectors including information systems, electronic devices, power and industrial systems, consumer products, materials, logistics and financial services.

About Hitachi Europe Ltd.

Hitachi Europe Ltd (HEU) is a wholly owned subsidiary of Hitachi Ltd., Japan. Headquartered in Maidenhead, UK, it has operations in 13 countries across Europe, the Middle East and Africa and employs approximately 550 people.

Hitachi Europe comprises of nine business areas: rail systems; power and industrial systems; information systems; digital media and consumer products; display products; industrial components and equipment; air conditioning and refrigeration systems; manufacturing systems; and procurement and sourcing. Hitachi Europe also has three Research and Development laboratories and a design centre.

EDI and data exchange at Hitachi

Due to the huge volume of transactions to a wide variety of companies in different market sectors, HEU are major users of data exchange and EDI transactions. These are used across the business from sales to logistics, planning to inventory management. Interfaces are required to the main SAP R/3 system that is used throughout the company, as well as to a number of other applications.

HEU runs one single EDI gateway in Europe, which handles not only HEU’s requirements but also those of a number of other Hitachi subsidiaries.

PathFinder at Hitachi

Orion Consulting have been involved with HEU for over ten years now, and have watched the existing EDI system expand to handle business requirements. Five years ago, with requirements getting ever more complex, and new EDI mechanisms around the corner, HEU took the decision to upgrade their existing GENTRAN EDI system to provide a better platform to be able to support their businesses in the future. After an evaluation exercise of the various products available from different manufacturers, they selected Orion’s PathFinder product to be their single EDI platform, handling all communications, message transformation, and system integration requirements.

HEU’s previous system used two products, one to provide the Translation functionality and another to provide communications. In addition, a large amount of bespoke scripting had been added to provide special requirements for communications combinations and non-standard EDI message formats. Replacing that with a single PathFinder solution dramatically reduced the overhead of administering this large system, as specific files could be picked swiftly out from the large volume of data and inspected or tracked easily through the PathFinder client.

Since its implementation, PathFinder has drawn praise for not only the width of its functionality, incorporating the varied data formats and communications requirements of the Hitachi gateway, but also for its administrative ease of use by the HEU EDI team.

Growth of the system

PathFinder is used at HEU for all three of its roles—traditional EDI Translation and communications using a VAN, data exchange server for partners that use XML, CSV and other formats, and middleware tool to Interface between different internal applications. PathFinder is a business-critical part of the HEU infrastructure, running on redundant dedicated HP Unix hardware with failover systems in place to allow true 24/7 operation.

Since PathFinder’s first implementation for HEU, it has now become a message transfer gateway for other Hitachi companies, replacing their existing EDI and data exchange systems. This has both increased efficiency and reduced costs for the company as a whole.

Customer comments

"We have been using PathFinder since 2004 and we continue to be very impressed with what the product provides and the service we receive from Orion. PathFinder is very user friendly and gives excellent visibility of all the various processes. We are now acting as the EDI hub for several Hitachi companies and we couldn’t have done this without PathFinder."

Gillian Tew, EDI Manager, Hitachi Europe Ltd

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"We purchased PathFinder because it was a cost-effective replacement for our existing EDI solution, and also because of its flexibility and ease-of-use. It also gave us future-proofing in relation to such demands as AS/2."
Alan Brown, IT Manager, Hero UK LLP