A single source of truth across the complete product development process provides better data quality and allows consistent reuse of engineering data for pur-chasing, distribution, and manufacturing. To reap these benefits, organizations require not only an integrated ERP/PLM system, but also a competent partner to support the implementation project from beginning to end—a partner that is in a position to provide broad-based support for the optimization of their business processes. According to Axel Stürmer, director of the engineering company’s PLM project, AERZEN has found such a partner in CIDEON.
AERZEN units can be found wherever air and gases are pumped, compressed, or measured. The company has set the standard in innovation with hybrid rotary compres-sors, which combine blower and compressor technology and as a result use less energy. Some of these units are standard products with or without customer-specific expansions; some are customized products specifically developed as part of a customer order and manufactured in small batches. Accordingly, the company leans heavily towards the engineering side and uses Autodesk Inventor and AutoCAD Mechanical on over 100 workstations.
Obsolete IT Infrastructure
The global manufacturer faced challenges to deliver shorter project schedules and improve delivery reliability which required a modern IT infrastructure to make pro-cesses more efficient. Although the legacy ERP system running on an AS/400 met the demands of the parent company, it did not meet the requirements of a division with globally distributed development and manufactur-ing sites. Therefore, development of the PDM system, Autodesk Productstream, AERZEN designers used to manage their CAD models and drawings was halted and the solution had to be replaced.
Why Direct Integration
AERZEN management decided on SAP as the new ERP. The PLM project team faced the decision of introducing a new CAD-like PDM system or integrating the multi-CAD systems directly into SAP or SAP PLM. The CIDEON direct integration made the decision easy in a bench-mark with stellar performance, especially when loading large assemblies. Lower total cost of ownership including lowered administration costs also argued for an integrated ERP/PLM solution. “Crucial in the selection of a partner was that CIDEON was able to provide integrated support for process consulting, system implementation, CAD inte-gration, data migration, process automation and optimiza-tion of our design methodology on the CAD system,” says Axel Stürmer.
CAD Migration with no Loss of Data
The ERP was introduced in several phases and AERZEN initially implemented SAP PLM as an independent sys-tem. “The challenge we faced with systems integration and data migration was that the CAD data had not been maintained systematically with Productstream, so not all the assembly structures were automatically available for referencing,” explains Klaus Becker who was responsible for the implementation of SAP PLM on the CIDEON side. Thanks to the effective migration preparation, the initial load was extremely successful—more than 99 % of all models and drawings were transferred error-free to SAP PLM. Subsequent migrations after release changes in the CAD versions went without issue.
It is important to AERZEN to reduce engineering costs further by using modular product systems and improving component and assembly recycling. The system meth-odology, however, is not mapped in the CAD systems but in the SAP sales configurator. To simplify the search for available materials and their associated documents, AERZEN integrated the classification software Simus ClassMate into SAP PLM. The requirement was quickly met and the software is instrumental in reducing parts inventory, according to Stürmer.
For designers, direct integration of multi-CAD systems means changing usual work processes. “They had to learn, for instance, that material is something different from the associated models and drawings,” recalls Becker. CIDEON oversaw the training process, matched design guidelines to direct integration requirements, and supported the users in optimizing their work processes. For example, a system-supported principle of dual control was implemented to meet AERZEN's quality requirements for review and approval. “The advantage is that less rework is required and data can be used more efficiently for downstream processes,” emphasizes Stürmer. Using CAD guidelines and a company-specific design method-ology, CIDEON made the designs stable and at the same time improved data quality with a dramatic reduction on throughput times.
SAP PLM manages CAD data and all product and pro-cess-relevant documents. For the first time AERZEN is able to version these documents, which was not possi-ble with the old system. In conjunction with engineering change management, which CIDEON mapped in SAP, electronic document management ensures development history of products and assemblies is easy to understand. In the past, engineers had to search electronic archives for specific TIFF drawings. Now, employees in purchasing, distribution, or operations scheduling can access current data and documents directly in their work environment and even visualize them in 3-D.
Time Savings in Sharing Information
In addition, CIDEON accelerated the availability of doc-uments by introducing Output Management. Whether in the offer process, in order management, or in production or assembly, the SAP output solution allows users to combine, stamp and print approved documents on paper, or distribute them electronically at the push of a button. For external use they are automatically transferred to the electronic archive, so that what a customer received can be traced at any time. “If the manual handling of a print order is estimated at 20 minutes, this amounts to huge time savings at 500 to 600 orders per day,” says Becker.
Models, drawings and other documents are archived in the Infostore archive after approval, so other sites can access them. Sites develop their own units based on the blowers and compressors from the facility in Aerzen. CIDEON integrated Infostore into SAP PLM and structured the data during export so it can be imported automatically. In the past, five employees in cross discipline design departments were busy manually archiving at least half a day per week—time they now use on higher value work. In addition, manual archiving led to the occasional misfiling of documentation. “Before, we did not document our products as fully and consistently,” says Pia Mühl, key user in blower design. “Now we can provide much more incisive information, which is also important with respect to compliance.”
he electronic archive is slated for replacement in the foreseeable future since it no longer represents state-of-the-art technology, and goes against the idea of a single source of truth. SAP PLM replaces this legacy technology at all sites as part of the Vision 2022 rollout; standardization of the group-wide IT landscape. Thanks to AERZEN’s preparation and rollout roadmap, they are well equipped for the global use of PLM. The roles and rights concept for configuring user access takes into consideration site needs to access data selectively. In addition, experts at CIDEON provided the option to duplicate drawing sheets automatically in other languages based on user prefer-ence with all relevant data displayed (e. g., geometrics, dimensions, texts, etc.).
Faster with a Source of Information
SAP PLM was released on schedule at the facility in Aerzen and since then has been used in production by more than 70 employees across multiple departments. The users greatly appreciate the benefits of a single system. Axel Stürmer illustrates this by means of an example, “It used to take weeks to create a new material master record since all the design engineers had to go to a single employee who created the material master records in the system. Now, it takes three days on average, and we are actively optimizing it even further.”
A key decisive factor in AERZEN’s partner choice was to receive everything from one source. Therefore, in addi-tion to SAP PLM, CIDEON takes over the comprehensive support of Autodesk products, including maintenance, upgrades, training classes, methodology consulting, and in-house coaching of the design engineers.