Case Study: Bel Power Solutions

Bel Power Solutions: Taking PLM to the Next Level

Published in The Record, Summer Issue 17 2020.

Electronics manufacturer Bel Fuse has around 7,000 employees located on six of the seven continents and manufacturing sites all over the world. Bel Power Solutions, which provides power conversion devices, is one of the firm’s three business groups.

As a result of several recent acquisitions, Bel Fuse had been trying to manage the multiple
enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems it inherited. This made it incredibly difficult to carry out financial processes, so Bel addressed this with the implementation of a Microsoft ERP system.

Following the decision for a more modern and unified ERP system and the acquisition of power solutions provider Power One in 2014, Bel Power Solutions had inherited a product lifecycle management (PLM) system which it hoped would improve business organisation, enhance its proposition in a competitive market and continue its growth.

Unfortunately, there were many issues with this system. Firstly, the licensing fees were priced per user and had become too costly as the company grew. The system was also a standalone product outside of the ERP system, which made it extremely cumbersome to work with the two systems simultaneously, and so Bel Power Solutions felt there was room for improvement.

Throughout its transformation, Bel Power Solutions was having to stay on top of its vast quantity of products and manufacturing changes. With around 10,000 finished goods and between 300 and 3,000 components on the bill of materials for each, a PLM system that could effectively deal with these would improve the firm’s integrity, enhance change management and route work to the right people to ensure a high level of product quality and communication between departments.

Bel Power Solutions decided to deploy a new PLM system from Microsoft partner and software provider Bluestar PLM.

“We chose Bluestar because it is an engineering solution,” said Stefan Naude, engineering director at Bel Power Solutions. “It could also integrate with computer-aided design (CAD), something that is extremely important for us as a manufacturer. Ultimately, it just blew the socks off the competitors as an engineering-focused solution to manage our parts, products and lifecycle management.”

Bluestar’s offering connects engineers with the Microsoft Dynamics 365 platform so that all the data that engineers create during product design in the CAD system is collected in one place, giving users control over each engineering change and ensuring that all parties are aware of the changes in real time.

The company supported Bel Power Solutions as it implemented its Dynamics-based PLM solution and transitioned from its old system in two steps. After initially using Bluestar as a pass-through from the previous solution to Dynamics, Bel Power Solutions is now 85 per cent fully deployed with Bluestar. The new solution handles all the firm’s change management and product documentation, with only the CAD integration left to complete. It also controls Bel Power Solutions’ compliance management, something that is unique to Bluestar’s offering.

“The compliance module allows us to gather information about the content of each item and pull it together to provide customers with reports on the content of products based on the Restriction of Hazardous Substances Directive,” said Naude. “This feature was created as a result of our partnership. Bluestar evolved its product to suit our needs and we helped to make the product stronger.”

According to Naude, the PLM transition has reaped many benefits. “The largest is that the PLM is inside our ERP system. That allows us to access financial information on components and costs, and with regards to change management, it helps us understand the implication of inventory levels and purchase transactions instantly. The technical engineering information also flows across systems which creates huge time savings as we don’t have to go between them and tie them together with hand-written reports.”

Bluestar’s solution provides a holistic approach to business intelligence, as it interacts with the ERP system in both directions. Its basis in Dynamics has realised significant cost savings in terms of licensing, as the fees do not vary as the company grows. Bel Fuse plans to roll out Bluestar’s PLM solution across the Bel Group in the coming years, which will have major effects on the business.

Naude believes that the implementation of a PLM in the other two thirds of Bel Fuse will create significant cost savings, something that he realised 10 years ago when Power Solutions implemented its first PLM. “It will also improve organisation, prevent mistakes and provide much better control over change management,” said Naude. Before using a PLM, Power Solutions was trying to manage all these elements manually and consequently encountered constant problems with integrity, documentation and which version of a product model is the latest version. “It was ineffective, expensive and created extra work for everyone,” he said. “The flexibility of Bluestar and Dynamics not only solves these issues, but it also allows each company to thrive, as the higher-level business processes can be tailored to its unique circumstances.”

Once implemented across the whole of Bel Fuse, Bluestar’s solution will be used at around 50 engineering locations. By 2025, Naude believes that the solution’s integration with the firm’s ERP system, its ease of navigation and how it helps to inform business decision making will transform the future of Bel Fuse.

The Record, Issue 17: Summer 2020, page 114-115.
http://digital.tudor-rose.co.uk/therecord/issue17/114/

Case Study: AR

Boosting efficiency and data reliability

Formed in 1969 in the US, Amplifier Research (AR) supplies radio frequency (RF) products and compliance testing solutions to operators in the automotive, medical, military, aerospace and telecommunication industries across the world. Today, the company comprises of three divisions including AR RF/Microwave Instrumentation, AR Modular RF and AR Receiver  Systems.

To standardise operational processes, reduce data errors and automate workflows across the
RF/Microwave Instrumentation division, AR wanted to integrate its separate product lifecycle management (PLM) and enterprise resource management (ERP) systems.

“Often our separate ERP and PLM systems did not contain the same information, because data was entered incorrectly, which made it difficult to gain an overview of all of the product information and collaborate across the company,” says Jeannie Suelke, vice president of IT and accounting at AR RF/Microwave Instrumentation.

AR implemented Bluestar PLM, a Dynamics AX-embedded PLM solution from PDM Technology, to provide its engineering, manufacturing and purchasing departments with a single set of version-controlled product data from one centralised system.

“One of the primary reasons for choosing Bluestar PLM was that it is fully embedded in Dynamics AX and that it allows our engineering and manufacturing teams to automatically exchange designs and 3D models using various CAD systems,” explains Suelke. “For example, engineers can use 3D modelling software to create assembly drawings and then use Bluestar PLM to automatically generate a bill of materials (BOM), while the purchasing department can access the BOM and related technical documentation to place orders with our external vendors.”

Deployed over six months, Bluestar PLM has standardised AR’s IT systems, boosted operational efficiency and eliminated redundant data entry across its CAD, PLM and ERP systems.

“As it is embedded in Dynamics AX, Bluestar PLM provides a full audit trail for each product, giving all teams an overview of the original technical drawings and specifications, any subsequent revisions, BOMs, purchase orders and more,” explains Troy Norgaard, business development manager at PDM Technology. “This increases visibility across the production process and ensures that employees always refer to the most recent data.”

Although AR now has the core product data management functionality it needs, the company plans to extend Bluestar PLM to improve its engineering change notification (ECN) management processes.

“Currently, AR manages engineering change notifications outside of the PLM systems, but Bluestar PLM will enable engineers to control any changes from within Dynamics AX via automated workflows,” explains Norgaard. “Not only will this help engineers to accurately predict the impact of future changes, it will also allow them to directly engage with others
included in the ECN process.” 

Case Study: Rotork

Rotork – PLM inside Dynamics AX

Published in The Record, Spring Issue 2017.

Established in 1957, global manufacturing company Rotork operates in a wide variety of markets including oil and gas, water and sewerage and marine operations. Over the last decade, the company has experienced remarkable growth and today has over 4,000 employees spread across the globe.

“Historically our employees were located across a few major sites, with the engineering and operations teams co-located at the factories that manufactured the products they were working on,” explains Phil Wood, Rotork Group’s chief information officer. “With this structure in place it was easy to implement manual controls over engineering data as colleagues sat together and there was a lot of face-to-face communication. However, in the last six years we’ve made 16 acquisitions and our engineering teams are now spread across many sites. We also have an Engineering Centre of Excellence in India. The company has grown and this has resulted in many disparate teams and an engineering authority that needs better tools to control the data being created and maintained around our products.”

Wood recognised that it was necessary to implement a product lifecycle management (PLM) system. “First we turned to one of the bigger PLM providers, but we quickly realised that the offering did not effectively match our needs. What’s more, the vendor was not interested in meeting our needs,” he explains.

With this in mind, the company decided to take a different avenue. “We’d been using Microsoft Dynamics AX for over five years, and had planned implementations in all Rotork factories. We realised that we had a unique opportunity to implement ERP and PLM together to integrate the way we manage all of our product data. We would not get this chance again, and so we looked for a PLM solution that worked inside Dynamics AX.”

Microsoft independent software vendor Bluestar PLM was the only company that could deliver this capacity. ”Its PLM solution seamlessly integrates product data (such as drawings, bill of materials [BOMs] and 3D files from CAD systems), with manufacturing data, right inside Dynamics AX,” Wood says.

So far Rotork has designed and built its engineering control system inside the Dynamics AX template for all factories, as Wood explains: “At present BlueStar is in a limited live deployment stage – we’ve released it to a small number of our engineering teams who are using it on our new products to define product data, to create new items and for CAD document storage. We intend to deploy Bluestar PLM to our factories and engineering authorities worldwide over the months to come.”

Wood expects the solution to dramatically increase efficiencies, especially around the creation and management of BOMs.

“…This will be very powerful for us, and will really bring engineering and operations together – it will change the way we work in our factories, and increase efficiency in engineering change and product data control companywide.”

“Historically, engineering created product BOMs in a way that reflected how the product was designed. In most cases this did not align with how the product would be made in the factory,” he explains. “Clearly the factory either had to redefine the BOM that would fit with the assembly process, or simply use a BOM that was ‘wrong’. This clearly created problems with BOM accuracy, BOM version management, configurator management and in turn materials requirement planning accuracy and stock accuracy.”

“These are very real problems for operations, and cause friction between the engineering and operations teams,” Wood continues. “The Bluestar PLM solution will change all this. Everyone will be working from the same system and there will be far greater accuracy and control of data. This will be very powerful for us, and will really bring engineering and operations together – it will change the way we work in our factories, and increase efficiency in engineering change and product data control companywide.”

And this is just the beginning. “It is likely that Bluestar PLM will be as
beneficial to application engineers who work on customer solutions as it will be for product engineers,” Wood concludes. “I expect we will significantly expand the rollout beyond the current factory scope.”

Source:

The Record, Issue 4: Spring 2017, page 90-91.
http://digital.tudor-rose.co.uk/therecord/issue04/#90

Case Study: Norican Group

Norican Group – Increased global collaboration between Engineers

Engineer-to-order company was formed in September 2008 when moulding
technology company Disa merged with Wheelabrator, a worldwide surface preparation technology provider. Today the company has more than 2,500 employees in five continents.

Over the years, Norican Group has acquired various companies, each operating on their own enterprise resource planning (ERP) and computeraided design (CAD) systems. This made it difficult for employees to collaborate on projects and share drawings and other resources with each other.

“Norican Group and its subsidiaries have produced numerous CAD drawings, which were
stored in various disparate archives and were hard to access,” explains Anette Olsen, vice president of global business systems for Norican Group. “We also needed to improve the way we managed the different versions of the drawings to ensure that people were working with the most up-to-date designs and specifications. The ERP and product lifecycle management (PLM) systems are one of the most valuable components of our company so we really wanted to create one common, wellmanaged business tool containing all of our data.”

To ensure its employees could access a single set of version-controlled product data, Norican Group implemented Bluestar PLM, a Microsoft Dynamics AX-based PLM solution from PDM technology in 2007. Bluestar PLM was initially rolled out to Disa employees and after the merger with Wheelabrator, it was deployed across Norican Group’s global R&D teams.

“Bluestar PLM integrates the design, engineering and manufacturing systems, providing Norican Group with a complete PLM and ERP system as a global platform for collaboration,” explains Troy Norgaard, business development manager at PDM Technology.

“Providing a single set of reliable data is important in any global manufacturing company as it enables them to perform predictably and efficiently.”

Since implementing Bluestar PLM, Norican Group has streamlined its ERP systems, creating a centralised, reliable and easily accessible tool for its data. The company can distribute synchronised data around the world in real time, while its engineering and manufacturing teams can automatically exchange designs, bills of materials and 3D models between their various CAD systems via the Microsoft Dynamics AX platform. This has increased collaboration and ensured that data is instantly accessible across all departments.

“Now that our teams can access the same PLM system and share reliable data regardless of their location, they can collaborate on various projects, which helps to reduce engineering cycle times,” says Olsen. “For example, our China-based engineering team can take a machinery design produced by our Danish team and adapt the parts to suit the needs of the local Chinese market. Other teams can then trace the original design and reuse it to develop products for different markets.”

Each piece of data is version controlled, and Norican Group can manage engineering changes via workflow automation. This ensures that only one person can update a drawing at any single time within the PLM system, reducing the risk of engineers working from old data.

“Bluestar PLM has greatly improved our company’s operational efficiency and we benefit from having implemented the system across all of our global offices,” concludes Olsen.

Case Study: MTI

More Efficient Engineering Change

Published in The Record, Winter Issue 2016.

With a vision to revolutionise human interactions using mobile solutions, Mobile Technologies Inc (MTI) – which has over 850 employees spread across four locations – has established itself as a pioneer in mobile device display technologies.

Operating in an industry like this requires a huge amount of flexibility as designs can go through multiple iterations during development. However, until recently, MTI’s engineering change order (ECO) process was largely manual. “Initiators were literally running around the office to collect all required signatures,” explains Anna Toloeva, system integration lead at the company. “We were rarely able to collect all required signatures in a timely manner and so ECOs often created significant delays.”

What’s more, the ECO log, which was a manually maintained spreadsheet, did not show all part numbers under revision. “This meant that two people could change the same part numbers under different ECOs without knowing it,” Toloeva says.

On top of this, MTI’s ECO process was time and cost intensive. “And that’s just the tip of the iceberg,” Toloeva explains. “Our systems didn’t integrate with our Dynamics AX software, we faced many documentation issues and our quoting process took days. Collaboration was weak – a big issue considering how geographically dispersed we are.”

With all this in mind, MTI looked to Bluestar PLM, a Microsoft partner focused on product lifecycle management (PLM) solutions integrated within Microsoft Dynamics AX. “The team
at Bluestar PLM impressed us,” says Toloeva. “Having a solution running from AX meant that we wouldn’t have to learn a whole new system. It would also make future upgrades easier because everything is contained in one place The implementation took five months from start to finish. It included the install and configuration of Bluestar PLM inside AX, customising a lot of features to meet our needs and creating training documentation,” explains Toloeva. “We also did on-site training in our US and Hong Kong offices.”

“The biggest challenge was the amount of code that we needed to generate and insert to customise the process to fit our needs. For example, there was specific AX data that needed to be updated upon ECO implementation.”

The results have been worth it. “We achieved our goals,” Toloeva says. “We’ve reduced time spent on ECO processes by 80%. We’ve achieved multi-site engineering collaboration and created one central place to store and manage our data. And we have true revision and lifecycle control.”

“We are very happy. Communication and collaboration was very smooth and we’ve had
great support during the implementation. We look forward to working with the team at
Bluestar PLM long into the future.”

The Record, Issue 3: Winter 2016, page 97.

http://digital.tudor-rose.co.uk/therecord/issue03/files/assets/basic-html/page-97.html

Case Study: SH Group

From Idea to Production

Published in Jyllandsposten, DNK, as a sponsored case study, March 2017.

PDM Technology is an Independent Software Vendor and a Microsoft Partner. Since 1988, they have been specialized in the development, sale, and implementation of Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) solutions. Their core mission is to provide a solution that bridges the gap between PLM and Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems.

By doing so, their solution provides endless possibilities for data-sharing while automating business processes across engineering, production, and finance departments.

One set of data, one system

“Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) is a system that processes and integrates data from the areas of finance, purchasing, sales, planning and inventory control. In other words, ERP is the operations and production playground. Product Lifecycle Management (PLM), on the other hand, is the engineering playground. The core purpose of the PLM system is to manage engineering data such as 3D models, (design) documents, and 1/2 BOMs. Ideas are born and developed in PLM, and they are realized in ERP,” says CEO of PDM Technology, Jørgen Schiønning Larsen.

He also adds, “Normally, ERP and PLM systems are isolated from one another. Luckily, it doesn’t have to be that way. The software platform, Bluestar PLM, ensures
that there is two-way communication between your PLM and ERP systems. We merge these two worlds into one software platform, so that everyone in the company has access to the same data and are on the same system. By using a single system instead of two, employees are able to successfully work uniformly. We have found a way to streamline the entire process, from concept to delivery, whereby everyone benefits from the clarity that Bluestar PLM provides.”

“PDM Technology’s IT solution helps our engineers navigate these large quantities of data, which enhances overall quality by reusing existing data.” Peter Johansen, IT Manager at SH Group.

One of the customers that PDM Technology has provided an IT solution for is SH Group, which develops and manufactures a wide range of products. Peter Johansen, the IT Manager at SH Group, explains, “SH Group is, to a great extent, a project-oriented company. We deliver custom solutions to various industries, including offshore and wind power, with products such as deck equipment for ships and oil rigs, and handling equipment for wind turbines. Due to the fact that most of our products are Engineered to Order, not very many models and drawings are used more than once in our production process. PDM Technology’s IT solution helps our engineers navigate these large quantities of data, which enhances overall quality by reusing existing data.”

“The level of quality has improved in all of our products, and the more standardized the product, the faster it can be produced. The implementation of Bluestar PLM was based on PDM Technology’s ability to challenge us with critical questions. That is how we developed the core elements needed in a solution that suit our business.”

Henrik Mølgaard Jørgensen believes that cooperation with PDM Technology improves the standard of their work, because they can better ensure the quality of each other’s drawings before they get to production. He also points out that it reduces the total number of errors in production, and facilitates data sharing between SH Group’s engineers.

Case Study: Rayloc

Making Data Available to Everyone

Published in The Record, Autumn Issue 2018 – By Lindsey James

Established in a small engineering workshop in Atlanta in the 1930s, Rayloc has grown to become one of the most widely known engineering, cataloguing, sourcing and distribution companies in the world. Today it provides high quality, application-specific products such as brake pads, brake drums and bearings to the National Automotive Parts Association (NAPA) and its customers, using its wealth of expertise in global sourcing, engineering and distribution. This is supported by over 500 employees operating across Rayloc’s four distribution centres, multiple cross dock locations and its 750-piece private trucking fleet.

“Our remanufacturing roots created a technical core competency that enables us to engineer and source high-quality parts and programmes,” explains the company’s supply chain director Joe Stich. “With an ISO-certified quality system and a culture for continuous improvement, we deliver real competitive advantage to NAPA in each of our product lines.”

But until recently, this competitive advantage was being marred by Rayloc’s disparate technology systems which were preventing it from meeting new expectations in terms of efficiency and visibility of data. “Most of the challenges we faced as a company boiled down to us having multiple systems to manage different parts of the business,” Stich says. “Product design, engineering, quality documentation, procurement, production and finance were all separate and it was proving difficult to keep them in sync.”

With this in mind, the company turned to Bluestar PLM for help. “Bluestar PLM stood out with its seamless integration as an embedded module into Microsoft Dynamics AX,” Stich says. “Additionally, the integration into our 3D modelling software (Solidworks) and other Microsoft products such as the Office suite combined to make a very versatile tool.”

Following the implementation of the Bluestar PLM solution, Rayloc is benefiting from a raft of business benefits. “We have better data integrity, new visual aids for our production and quality departments, improved document retention which will help Rayloc through its ISO re-certification in 2017, improved revision history and future revision announcements that assist in product running changes,” Stich explains.

In fact, companywide data accessibility has improved significantly. “In the past, product data was shared manually using multiple different solutions,” Stich says. “Rayloc employees have quickly favoured Bluestar PLM because it acts as a one stop shop. All data – from development through to sales and marketing, customer service and quality assurance – can be found quickly and easily.” And this is just the start. “Errors resulting from our bill of materials have reduced from 60% to below 10%,” Stich says. “The gap is closing every audit.”

What’s more, production line efficiency has increased by 15%. “This is because equipment setup and other product attributes were not readily available before. Now it is easier to create different products.”

As a result, the company expects to shave months off its time to market. “Although we are still in the process of measuring the entire time to market, through the first 75% of our process we are seeing tasks completed 20% sooner, while also having the accountability of who is working on each task and gathering key information from other departments all within a single Bluestar workflow,” Stich says. 

Rayloc also expects to experience cost savings by the end of the year when it is able to shut down two separate servers that will greatly reduce its IT maintenance. The company’s plans for the future don’t end here. “We want to get the quality management system module up and running and to allow our global team access to our information,” Stich says. “Additionally, we would like to get our laboratory testing data into Bluestar PLM in such a way that we can ensure all test protocols have been completed and then to report on the best in class designs. Similarly for laboratory testing data, we are currently inputting our Production Part Approval Process (PPAP) documentation to make sure we have all the necessary info before placing orders.”

“Overall, now that we have access to great detailed information, we have identified many opportunities for improvement. This is guiding some of our key initiatives for the year ahead. We couldn’t have done any of this without Bluestar PLM.”

Source:

The Record, Issue 6: Autumn 2017, page 100-101.
http://digital.tudor-rose.co.uk/therecord/issue06/#100

Case Study: Hannibal

Hannbial Industries: Confident Product Configuration

Published in The Record, Autumn Issue 2018 – By Lindsey James

Founded in 1985, Hannibal Industries is a leading pallet rack and steel tube manufacturer that employs around 400 people at its plants in Los Angeles and Houston. To create unique solutions based on customers’ requirements, Hannibal used a configurator that had been developed in-house and integrated with the company’s Microsoft Dynamics AX enterprise resource planning (ERP) system. But after the employee who created the configurator left the company, maintenance and improvement became a challenge. In addition, creating and printing CAD drawings throughout the process was a time-consuming process that opened the door for potential error, as the production department was not always aware of changes made since a drawing was received.

“This immediately made the process less burdensome on our design department.” Seeking to resolve these issues, Hannibal considered three solution providers before choosing the configuration module in Bluestar PLM. This solution stood out because it is built inside the Dynamics 365/AX ERP platform, making it easy to seamlessly bridge the flow of data between engineering and operations.

“When we developed our AX Product Builder configurator we had to make all kinds of changes to Dynamics AX and the two programs were having difficulty working together,” says Farooq Mohammad, director of IT at Hannibal Industries. “These customisations caused significant challenges in transferring the old configurator to the new modern Bluestar PLM configurator and so the initial deployment took longer than we expected. However, the Bluestar team from PDM technology was always there to support us. It has incredibly deep knowledge of Dynamics AX and, if a problem arose, it would respond immediately, even when on vacation. In fact, in our company Bluestar is a rock star!”

Hannibal’s new configurator does everything the company wanted, and more. “With Bluestar, not only did we receive a configurator which is stable and easy to work with; we also have a configurator that can create drawings for us,” says Mohammad. “This immediately made the process less burdensome on our design department.”

Being able to generate and distribute drawings to production, scheduling and planning departments has also reduced the risk of error. “The drawings for each part are now available with the click of a button.,” says Mohammad. “That means we know the drawing we’ve printed is the right one to work with.

”Even better, the whole process has been speeded up. “Previously, it took us two to three minutes just to configure one part, then we had to create the drawings manually afterwards” says Mohammad. “With Bluestar, it takes about 90 seconds to both configure the part and create the CAD drawing. There is really no comparison when it comes to what you can gain by having software like that.”

Ensuring that the system was adopted by Hannibal’s long-standing employees was another challenge, but the solution’s ease of use won them over. “It can be difficult to change the culture among people who have worked in the same position for more than 20 years, but they have bought into the new system and they’re enjoying using it” says Mohammad.

Because the configurator does everything the company wants it to do, Mohammad’s IT team has more time to develop the business’ efficient use of IT. And having an ERP-based PLM solution, rather than a standalone system, brings further benefits to the business. “The way Bluestar PLM interacts with all the other areas of our ERP system makes it very powerful,” says Mohammad.“ When people are using it, they know it’s Bluestar, but they don’t have to learn two discrete systems because it’s all part of one package. In addition, because Bluestar is scalable, we can always add more to it without worrying about the expertise of one employee.”

“The way Bluestar PLM interacts with all the other areas of our ERP system makes it very powerful,”

Hannibal is now in the process of transitioning from Dynamics AX 2009 to Dynamics 365. “We’ve just implemented Bluestar PLM in our Houston facility, which uses the new Dynamics 365 environment,” says Mohammad. “The whole implementation took about two and a half months, which is lightning fast in this industry.”

With the Houston deployment successfully completed, Los Angeles is next in line. “We’re planning to convert to the new system in Los Angeles in January,” says Mohammad. “From that moment, we will go to the advanced features of Bluestar, such as engineering/production change management features.”

Looking ahead, Hannibal’s partnership with Bluestar looks set to continue. “Currently, Bluestar helps us with production level drawings, and eventually we’d like to extend that to the full configuration of the warehouse,” says Mohammad. “Based on what I’ve seen, I know Bluestar can do that.”

Source:

The Record, Issue : Autumn 2018, page 86-87.
www.technologyrecord.com/magazine/the-record/autumn-2018

Case Study: Hydratech Industries

Bluestar PLM Makes Manufacturing Systems Communicate

Published in The Record, Autumn Issue 2018 – By Lindsey James

At Hydratech Industries, it’s essential that drawings and data flow freely between the technical departments, where the design is developed – to production, where the plans are implemented.

The company previously used systems where users had to manually enter all data from the technical systems to production. The time-consuming manual process involved with populating product data from one system to the other resulted in production errors and longer waiting times. Following implementation of Bluestar PLM, which links communication between engineering and production, those problems have been resolved.

Jesper Bangsgaard is the Logistics Manager of Hydratech Industries, a company that supplies hydraulic equipment to wind turbine manufacturers, the maritime sector and the mining industry.

According to Bangsgaard, Bluestar PLM was his company’s choice because it works so well with the company’s ERP system, Dynamics AX. ”We were looking for a solution that could tie together the worlds of production and technology, so we could stop re-keying information. Too 1/2 much extra work and time was wasted in that process,” Bangsgaard said.

Hydratech Industries wanted direct access to drawings and information from technical departments; Bluestar PLM provided that access. ”It was easy for us to decide that we wanted Bluestar PLM, as it’s a product that just makes the two worlds come together,” said Bangsgaard.

Works in any manufacturing environment

Jesper B. Thomsen is a project leader for PDM Technology, the company behind the product Bluestar PLM. Since 2001, PDM Technology has developed and delivered Bluestar PLM to the Microsoft Dynamics ERP platforms in Europe and North America.

According to Thomsen, a key factor that makes Bluestar PLM unique and extremely easy to use is that it is embedded within the ERP system, yet it also has contact with the CAD programs where the design takes place.

”Bluestar PLM allows data to flow freely between design and production, which improves accuracy and efficiency in any manufacturing environment,” Thomsen said, adding, ”Design changes are handled easily, because the change is seamlessly cascaded through the system, without the risk of error. That’s hard to do when you work in two different systems, and that’s where Bluestar PLM makes a huge difference.”

A solution for global operations

Bluestar PLM includes Version Management; delivering complete control over which versions are released and when – and then information is immediately transferred to production. ”This allows Hydratech Industries to automatically send drawings when we make a purchase order, because the two systems are ‘talking’ together,” said Bangsgaard. “When an operator makes a production order and needs to double check something, he just enters the screen and retrieves the drawing. Our service engineers, who are located around the world and in different time zones, will quickly be able to find drawings without waiting for business hours at our Denmark headquarters.”

Hydratech Industries has production facilities in both Denmark and China, where they had exactly the same issues. ”Our department in China is now experiencing the same benefits, and we can easily support them and keep track of what’s going on. We are about to roll it out for the rest of the organization, so hopefully another Danish factory in Silkeborg will soon do exactly the same,” Bangsgaard said. 

Easy implementation

According to Bangsgaard, the implementation process was painless – especially on the Bluestar PLM side, where all the underlying system information was controlled. “There is good support from PDM Technology and it’s easy to use, so we feel we are in good hands. We heard good recommendations about Bluestar PLM from others in the industry who were very satisfied. That confirmed our feeling that we were choosing the best solution,” said Bangsgaard.

Source:
Sponsored case study published in Jyllands Posten, Danish newspaper, October 26th, 2017

Case Study: Hvidtved Larsen

Hvidtved Larsen Ready for Industry 4.0

Published in Jyllands Posten, DNK, as a sponsored case study, March 2018 

In recent years, Hvidtved Larsen has evolved from being a traditional craftmanship company to a global industry, producing and supporting a number of distinct products. Their vision is to be the world’s most innovative maker of sewer cleaning and sanitation equipment, and it’s a vision that demands technology and IT systems that support production processes. To achieve their vision, it is crucial that drawings and data flow freely between technical departments, where designs are planned, and production areas, where the plans are implemented. Bluestar PLM creates this link between the CAD system (where the design exists) and the ERP system (the company’s administration system). The software is integrated into Microsoft Dynamics AX and collects product data such as drawings, BOMs and 3D files from CAD systems, as well as manufacturing data from Dynamics AX.

Jesper Hejselbaek is Technical Director at Hvidtved Larsen. He recalled the challenges when all drawings from the CAD systems were created separately in the warehouse and finance system.

”It was both time consuming and there was a risk of errors because you did not necessarily get all the details when transferring from one system to another,” said Hejselbaek, noting that this resulted not only in production errors, but also increased waiting times and time-consuming manual processes in handling product data from one system to another.

”Bluestar PLM is an important part of our growth and error reduction. It is crucial that we effectively manage our documentation so that we can grow and deliver quality on time, which is a major strategies in all markets,” said Hejselbaek.

Data provides competitive power

Jørgen Schioenning Larsen is CEO of PDM technology, specializing in ERP-based PLM with the solution ’Bluestar PLM,’ and was responsible for system implementation at Hvidtved Larsen. According to him, the experience at Hvidtved Larsen is an example of how businesses in the Western world are required to digitize and run smarter in order to compete in a global market. This happens by combining data from a manufacturer’s various systems, machines and robots – a phenomenon called the ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’ or Industry 4.0.

”With Industry 4.0, our ability to generate and manage data becomes our new competitive power. Everyone can make ordinary production today, so the competitive power for us in the Western world stems from our ability to process and produce data,” said Larsen.

At Hvidtved Larsen, the flow of data starts when a customer starts an order for a sewage vacuum truck. Each customer is different – some customers buy a standard design, while others prefer to make minor adjustments for vehicle color, size of pumps and length of hoses. Other customers want to define each detail of the vacuum truck, so they have optimized the product to fit their unique needs. Consequently, a variety of different data is collected during the order process that affects how the product is manufactured.

”It’s important that you work on a common platform, with one data model and have one way to work throughout the organization, and therefore have coherent data in a single system,” said PDM technology’s Larsen. “Hvidtved Larsen’s migration to Industry 4.0 started with implementation of Bluestar PLM, which connects the sales system, engineers and production with one another in one single solution – an essential part of Industry 4.0. It is likely that their next step will be to get sensors in the vehicles, so Hvidtved Larsen can monitor them and, from there, make effective plans for vehicle maintenance and repairs. It’s all about giving Hvidtved Larsen competitive power.”

Easy access to data

Jesper B. Thomsen is a Project Manager with PDM technology. According to him, one of the key advantages with Bluestar PLM is that it is embedded within the ERP system, which means that all data is available in one system. “You have drawings and information available exactly when needed. When you are in production, you have access to the current 3D model, drawing, bill of materials and production data. With Bluestar PLM, companies use this availability of information avoid costly mistakes,” Thomsen said.

”With Industry 4.0, our ability to generate and manage data becomes our new competitive power.”

Source:
Sponsored case study published in Jyllands Posten, Danish newspaper, March 16th, 2018.