Not only manufacturing but similarly agriculture requires innovative solutions for automation and process optimization. These include machines for feeding dairy cattle such as sheep, goats and camels, but primarily cows.
For their health and for a sustainably good quality of their milk it is essential that the food they get is composed of a multitude of components and has a balanced PH value. This makes it necessary to thoroughly mix the ingredients prior to feeding.
Process Optimization in the Cowhouse
Agricultural machines from SILOKING help dairy farmers streamline the cattle feeding process chain. To this end, the family business designs and manufactures stationary mixing and dosing systems as well as trailed and self-propelled mobile feed mixers. These machines combine the recipe-controlled mixing and blending of the individual food components with transport of the food to the cowhouse as well as its dosed distribution there. The self-propelled SelfLine food mixers also feature milling loader arms so that dairy farmers can cover all activities from material withdrawal from the silos to the actual feeding with only one vehicle.
“We were using a multitude of software systems”, says Dr. Peter Schöttl, Commercial Director of SILOKING. “Particularly the ERP system was not fit to cope with our rapid growth.” With the aid of an external consultant, SILOKING drafted a call for tender to improve the company’s IT landscape. When SAP and their implementation partner All for One Steeb won the bid, the foundation was laid for a future-proof PLM.
For design and engineering work including the simulation of all mechanical parts and assemblies, the engineering department of the agricultural machine manufacturer based in Tittmoning, Germany, is using Solid Edge CAD software and had been using a PLM software system from the same supplier.
This made it necessary for the company to decide whether to continue using the existing PLM system or to change the PLM environment in the course of the SAP ERP implementation. “Although an SAP interface is available for the legacy PLM system, integration with the new corporate IT systems would have caused quite an effort”, says CAD administrator Stefan Röder.
PLM Alignment for a Better TCO
Being SAP partners of mid-sized businesses, the All for One Steeb experts know that an ERP implementation often requires the simultaneous integration of the PLM software to yield the full usage benefit of the software transition. To best serve the technology-minded company SILOKING, they took CIDEON on board. The engineering specialist supports companies with its own range of software products as well as individual services to collaboratively optimize product development processes.
“Aside of CIDEON’s well-founded consulting services, our economic assessment was decisive for the concurrent transition to SAP PLM”, Peter Schöttl recalls. “Although some were surprised, in our evaluation the consistent SAP solution resulted in a better TCO than the integration of the legacy PLM-System with SAP.”
Based on SILOKING’s requirements, integration tests were performed with the SAP modules, the SAP Engineering Control Center and the CIDEON Conversion Engine. “Following CIDEON’s suggestion, for the sake of reduced maintenance during operations we decided for an integration of the PLM and ERP software without any custom programming“, says Stefan Röder. “This provided us with the full functional scope in a very short time.”
The data to import from the legacy system came with a number of inconsistencies from the time before the superseded PLM software. CIDEON therefore first provided the customer with support in data preparation for conversion using the CIDEON Import PDM for SAP software. For this conversion, SILOKING did not need to stop any of the affected systems. Migration was performed successively by transferring delta data during running operations. This way, existing data that has not been taken into account can be migrated long after the initial transition if needed. Active support from CIDEON throughout all project phases guaranteed the success of this company-wide comprehensive SAP implementation.
Smooth Migration with Minimal Resources
As SILOKING faced increased demand for customized designs during the transitory phase, limited access to resources was a major challenge. “In spite of this and the enormous scope of the project, all thanks to CIDEON’s expertise, the implementation was running perfectly”, says Stefan Röder. “Since the system went fully productive in May 2017, we have been discovering new opportunities and potentials on a daily basis.”
As the procedures in engineering have not changed much, making the transition was an easy step for the designers. Furthermore, using SAP Mail to process the workflows is easy to understand and to do and authorized engineers can use all relevant SAP mechanisms for instance for item creation directly from their familiar working environment. Consequently, all data needs only be maintained in one system. This reduces unpopular “red tape” side activities and eliminates a notorious source of errors.
Paradigm Shift Improves Readiness for Future Developments
The unified overall ERP/PLM solution was rolled out in all locations simultaneously. TruckLine 4.0 was the first new product series to be consistently designed using the new software configuration with SAP for both ERP and PLM.
“Although we are not yet fully exploiting all operative benefits, we are already experiencing the advantages resulting from avoiding unproductive side activities and ruling out possible sources of error, for instance by having all documents up to date”, Stefan Röder says. “Additionally, a new and higher degree of self-service by other departments considerably relieves the design engineers.”
“25 years after we commenced production and following our development from a handicraft business to our current dimension, this software change is another paradigm shift for us”, Dr. Peter Schöttl concludes. “With this transition, CIDEON empowered us to adjust our processes such that they can reliably and efficiently support our future growth.”