COVID-19 has had a major impact on the automotive industry. Some of the worst-hit regions are key links in the industry’s global supply chain. With countries locked down, automotive component makers have had to be agile to navigate the crisis and ensure parts get through to factories that are open.

The pandemic’s rapid movement to Europe and North America further strengthened the need for flexibility to keep the supply chain open. Business continuity plans have had to continually address a moving target.

Minimizing supply chain disruption

A long-term customer of Orange Business Services needed to keep its supply chain of critical automotive components running, with minimal disruption to its clients. In addition to manufacturing being heavily hit, countries in Europe and North America were locking down, forcing knowledge workers to work from home.

The customer requested that Orange instigate a homeworking program as fast as possible. Orange already provides the company with Business VPN, managed remote access and security along with Zscaler Internet Access (ZIA) system integration and managed video solutions. The key was to extend its infrastructure and collaboration tools’ capacity to support a much higher number of home users.

Orange first had to upscale capacity on the company’s SSL virtual private network. This would normally accommodate approximately 100 users and was reserved for company executives and employees traveling. It was immediately upgraded to 600 users.

Orange also negotiated a virtual license option with its visual communications partner Kinly for its video collaboration tool. This enabled the company’s employees in the U.S. and Europe to work from home and access videoconferencing capabilities. Remote workers dial in on a private VPN to access Web applications, client-server apps and internal network utilities.

Previously, only around 100 people used videoconferencing rooms in the company. This service is now being rapidly extended to provide 1,000 more personal, virtual meeting rooms accessible by all knowledge workers. Each is capable of accommodating 30 staff. The company also adopted Kinly’s concierge service, which offers personalized assistance with call scheduling, call pre-tests, call launches, technical monitoring and so forth. This means teleworkers can focus on their meetings and not have to worry about the technology.

Internet stability and performance are notoriously difficult to control. To ensure consistency and videoconferencing quality, Orange runs the video traffic over MPLS. In doing this, Orange has also extended Business VPN Galerie. This acts as a gateway between the videoconferencing solution in the cloud and the corporate business VPN, without touching the public Internet.

To further shore up business resilience for the future, the company is now exploring an option to replace all its firewalls and remote access tools with Zscaler Private Access (ZPA). This will provide seamless connectivity to critical resources from anywhere, decoupled from protection traditionally applied at the physical network layer using firewalls and other security tools.

Limiting automotive manufacturing disruption

By expanding the company’s infrastructure in a short time frame, Orange has enabled the company to get its knowledge workers up and running from home quickly and productively. This has enabled the company to keep its supply chain moving and ensure that car manufacturers receive the parts they need with minimal disruption during this unprecedented health emergency.