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Customer Snapshot: Overview

More than 100 years of combined launch experience

We don’t need a rocket scientist to tell us how important rocket science is. According to NASA, more than 1,100 functioning satellites orbit Earth, aiding navigation, communication, public safety, and science. United Launch Alliance (ULA) builds the rockets that deploy satellites, as well as the ones that travel far beyond. SAP helps ULA build them reliably and cost effectively.

United Launch Alliance (ULA)

Customer Website

Implementation Partners

Aerospace & Defense

Cenntennial, Colorado, USA

Number of Employees

Line of Business
Finance, Platform and Technology, Manufacturing, R&D/Engineering

SAP Solutions
SAP Complex Assembly Manufacturing, SAP Custom Development, SAP ERP

Customer Snapshot: History

Launching a Joint Venture

For more than half a century, Atlas and Delta rockets have propelled people and payloads into space, including the first American to orbit Earth and the first man-made craft to reach another planet. Today, the United Launch Alliance is focused on the future of expendable launch vehicles to help protect and improve life on Earth, and to expand human knowledge through interplanetary exploration.

Customer Snapshot: Business Model

Reliable, Cost-Efficient Space Launches

ULA was formed specifically to provide reliable, cost-efficient access to space for launch customers including the United States Department of Defense, NASA, the National Reconnaissance Office, and the United States Air Force. The alliance relies heavily on information technology to help improve the probability of mission success while driving excess costs out of the processes of designing, testing, and launching rockets.
The alliance maintains program management, engineering, test, and mission support functions at their headquarters in Centennial, Colorado. Manufacturing, assembly, and integration operations are located in Decatur, Alabama, and Harlingen, Texas. Launch operations are located at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, and Vandenberg Air Force Base, California.

Customer Snapshot: Success Strategy

Perfect Product Delivery

The business ethic that drives ULA is known as Perfect Product Delivery. It is a business improvement endeavor between ULA and key suppliers, including SAP. ULA collaborates with partners to determine how to improve processes using only the appropriate tools necessary to get the highest return.

The Challenge

One View, from the Drawing Board to the Launch Pad

At times, ULA had as many as 15 different operating systems dedicated to overlapping processes, such as rocket design, testing, and launch. Multiple systems created unnecessary costs and unwanted confusion among workers at offices, factories, and launch sites in different locations. To improve collaboration and transparency during vital activities that directly influence mission success, ULA wanted to improve data sharing and streamline manufacturing processes.

Enter SAP

Extending a Partnership of Trust

ULA leadership already understood the value of SAP solutions, having implemented SAP ERP for finance and human relations. The alliance also worked closely with SAP Custom Development to create a new graphical user interface for simultaneously viewing multiple test plans. When ULA evaluated the SAP Complex Assembly Manufacturing solution, they were pleased to discover how easily data flowed between systems ranging from manufacturing to finance.

Enter SAP: The SAP Experience

Yet Another Successful Launch

Just as they do with their own rocket launches, ULA expected the launch of SAP Complex Assembly Manufacturing to be executed flawlessly. SAP provided Perfect Product Delivery, meaning the new system was implemented without interrupting normal business operations.

Better Business

Simplicity Means Speed and Speed is Everything

By implementing a system that integrates with other environments, ULA is able to simplify several dimensions of what are commonly very technical and complex operations. Even processes as common as closing books have the potential to accelerate ULA’s launch schedules. Improved visibility into building and testing rockets means safety and reliability can be maintained cost-effectively.

Better Business: Benefits

One Team, One System

The standardization of data and its synthesis into a single system helps unite ULA’s employees like never before. Gone are siloed processes that required manual workarounds or caused project delays because of system incompatibility. Because the alliance’s SAP systems all communicate effortlessly with each other, it helps promote the sense of teamwork across workgroups and geographies.

SAP has helped ULA increase our probability of mission success while lowering our cost to the customer. —Daniel Collins, COO, ULA

Better Business: Run Simple

Supporting Manufacturing and Launch Operations

Between the custom GUI and the implementation of SAP Complex Assembly Manufacturing, ULA is now better able to provide multifaceted support to their rocket business, starting with project and component design all the way through to successful launches of valuable payloads into orbit and interplanetary journeys.

Journey Ahead

Defining and Implementing the Future

SAP solutions are now in place to help ULA build the next generation of rockets to support science, industry, and life on Earth. The united team of ULA and the unified technology of SAP are also working on the next generation of human space flight—the new ULA Delta IV Heavy Rocket, which is being developed to support NASA’s Orion spacecraft.

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