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The company

American Axle Manufacturing (AAM) is a global Tier 1 automotive supplier creating smarter, safer, and more efficient vehicles. The company, headquartered in Detroit, serves clients worldwide, including Ford, FCA, and GM. Established in 1994, it operates 90 facilities in 17 countries and prides itself on quality, operational excellence, and technology leadership.



The Challenge

Since its early years, AAM has been using IBM Maximo, implementing the system for new sites as they were opened or acquired. Over time, however, AAM found itself operating two separate Maximo environments with two separate databases.

While its US plants had already been upgraded to Maximo 7.6 and were using a SQL server database, the attempts to bring its Asian sites live on the same instance had to be abandoned as the SQL database could not support local languages. As a result, these sites were running an outdated and unsupported Maximo 7.1, using an Oracle database. As a result, AAM needed help to upgrade and migrate the two environments into a single, up-to-date system that would support all international sites and languages. In addition, given the demands of the production schedule, the company needed to make the transition with as little downtime as possible and mitigate the risk.

AAM’s lean, in-house IT team was engaged in an ongoing program deploying Maximo in 7 new AAM sites following a significant acquisition two years earlier to complicate matters further. Therefore, another important consideration was minimizing demands on their time, leaving them free to focus on implementing the new sites to bring the entire global business onto one platform.

Bill Quinlan, who leads AAM’s IT team, said: “We’ve done upgrades before, but they were very painful. We were installing patches, building servers and software, moving data, and then taking the systems down. We didn’t have the staff to do this and deploy Maximo to 7 new sites. When we upgraded previously from 7.1. to 7.6 on SQL, we were down for a weekend following the checklist and timing we followed during our dry run. We were always concerned that we would take more time to complete than what was scheduled and impact production at the plant sites.”


The Solution

AAM chose Cohesive to help consolidate both Maximo environments into one. As the process would require a shutdown expected to last several days, the Cohesive team decided to use the CDU ‘zero downtime’ upgrade tool

The Cohesive team built a new clustered Maximo environment using the most current supported versions of Oracle and virtualized Server software and created a library of data migration mappings to accelerate the eventual migration and data clean-up to reduce cost and save time.

The operation was carried out in two waves. Using the CDU tool, Maximo was initially upgraded from version 7.1 to 7.6. Next, data was migrated from the original SQL Server database to the new Maximo 7.6 Oracle database leveraging the same CDU mappings resulting from the first wave.

The result

The upgrade was completed with zero downtime and without any issues.

  • Better functionality: AAM now has an up-to-date, fully supported version of Maximo, which offers more advanced technology and can manage multiple languages.
  • Consolidated Support: By consolidating the two Maximo systems into one, AAM no longer has to support two separate Maximo systems with custom reporting unique to each. The new platform will provide a more consolidated approach to managing and supporting its global business, especially once the new sites are included.
  • Reduced costs: The upgrade and migration were completed with no disruption to production or operations. By eliminating the cost of downtime, the project came in well under budget and both waves of the project were completed within the budget established for the first wave.
  • Saving IT staff time: The use of external consultants to manage the project and the use of the CDU tool to avoid downtime and disruption helped relieve the pressure on in-house staff, leaving them free to focus on other tasks more strategic to the business which included the business goals of deploying Maximo to 7 additional plant locations globally.

CDU Benefits

  • IBM approved global solution
  • Reduces downtime
  • Mitigates the risk of failure
  • Enables testing and training on live data
  • Offers a proven and successful approach
  • Allows for “offsite” updates

"When we went live, nobody knew we were on the new system, and there were no tickets related to upgrades. CDU allowed me to run through upgrades while all this is going on. That is brilliant as we would normally have to stop our new site Maximo deployments for a couple of months while we upgraded and consolidated systems.”

Bill QuinlanManager, Plant Floor Systems at American Axle Manufacturing
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