Confident Product Configuration
Hannibal Industries chose Bluestar PLM to enable standardised, automated processes for the design and configuration of custom solutions
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.
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.
“The way Bluestar PLM
interacts with all the other areas of our ERP system makes it very powerful,”
“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.”
“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.”
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.”
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.”
About Hannibal Industries Inc.
Bluestar PLM will show the exciting new features at D365UG/AXUG Summit 2018 in Phoenix, AZ from October 15th-18th at:
- Get a live demo performed by our experts
- Try the functionalities of PLM inside Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations
- Get an introduction to our news since year 2017
Monday, October 15, 5:00 PM – 8:00 PM
Tuesday, October 16, 12:00 PM – 2:00 PM
& 5:00 PM – 7:30 PM
Wednesday, October 17, 12:00 PM – 5:00 PM
Thursday, October 18, 9:30 AM – 1:00 PM
Our Partner in the Pacific area – Lean Projects Limited – will be representing Bluestar PLM at the EMEX 2018 in Auckland, New Zealand.
Lean Project Limited is delivering ERP software solutions with specific functionality enhancements for Manufacturing, Print & Packaging and Rental/Hire industries. These industry specific enhancements will enable all your company departments to work with one set of reliable and up-to-date data and will considerably improve your efficiency and productivity across the board. We also provide full implementation and support services for Microsoft Dynamics AX and Dynamics 365 systems.
Lean Projects Limited is a Microsoft Dynamics consultancy with more than 20 years of experience with implementing and supporting Dynamics AX and Dynamics 365 systems as well as developing and deploying AX add-ons for different industries worldwide.
Lean Projects Limited is the Australasian agent for European and North American software solution vendors, providing industry specific ERP software solutions for:
Print & Packaging
Please visit us at stand 2012 in Hall 2 and for further details please visit our website below
EMEX has proudly showcased industry supplier innovations to manufacturers, engineers and electronics professionals for over 30 years in New Zealand. Held every 2 years this national exhibition is your chance to engage with 1000s of your colleagues across 3 full days; to network, to learn and source the latest technology reshaping your industry.
- Control and Instrumentation
- Plant Automation and Monitoring
- (CNC) Machine Technology
- Welding, Forming and Cutting
- Industrial Engineering and Maintenance
- Health and Safety
- 3D Printing Technologies, Robotics
(map details to include 217 Greenlane rd)
The ASB Showgrounds (formerly known as the Auckland Showgrounds) are located at 217 Greenlane Road – about 10 minutes drive from the city centre.
Take either the Market Road or the Greenlane exit from the Auckland Southern Motorway.
For public transport information call Rideline on 366 6400 or visit www.maxx.co.nz
The RECycler® 315 model is a Hvidtved Larsen product being sold in the North American market. Photo: Asger Stage / Hvidtved Larsen
Ready for Industry 4.0
Hvidtved Larsen is one of many Danish industrial companies in the midst of digital conversion; with the implementation of Bluestar PLM, the company’s IT systems for CRM, ERP, PLM and CAD now are connected in one system.
In recent years, Hvidtved Larsen has evolved from being a traditional craft 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 Hejselbæk 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.
“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.”
Jesper Hejselbæk, Technical Director at Hvidtved Larsen
“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 Hejselbæk, 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 Hejselbæk.
Data provides competitive power
Jørgen Schiønning 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.
”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”
Jørgen Larsen, CEO at PDM technology
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.
Source: Sponsored case study published in Jyllands Posten, Danish newspaper, March 16th, 2018.
Join the Career Fair 2018 in Pilsen, Czech Republic.
Visit our booth and learn more about our Student Jobs at PDM technology
Show Hours: Thursday, March 21, 10:00 AM – 4:00 PM
University of West Bohemia
Faculty of Electrical Engineering
301 00 Pilsen
Zúčastněte se Veletrhu pracovních příležitostí v Plzni.
Navštivte náš stánek a dozvíte se více o našich pozicích pro studenty.
Datum a čas: středa 21. března, 10:00 – 16:00
Západočeská univerzita v Plzni
301 00 Plzeň
Register now for the Chicago Chapter Meeting and widen your network of other Microsoft Dynamics 365/AX users with related issues or future plans.
If you are experiencing issues between engineering and operations due to unconnected technical systems – you should join the presentation by Dan Fite, Director of Development from PDM technology: “Collaboration using D365 For Operations & Engineering“. In other words – learn how to improve collaboration between Engineering and Operation by using Dynamics 365 for Operations & Engineering.
- Learn about common issues due to the detached digital systems used by Operations & Engineering
- Learn how clients experienced improvements after implementing ERP-based PLM.
- Learn more about how a Dynamics 365-based PLM solution supports:
- Product Data Management
- Engineering Change Management
- CAD Integration
- Documentation Package Preparation
- Workflow Management
Chicago Dynamics Chapter User Group Meeting Quarter 1
|Thursday, March 15, 2018, 9:30 AM to 3:00 PM CDT|
Agenda Setup for the Presentations at this meeting:
PLM and ERP: Enriched and Redefined
In the year 2000, a team of determined engineers embarked on a mission to revolutionize the collaboration between engineering and manufacturing. Using their expertise in ERP, CAD and engineering product data management, they sought to add the missing link between engineering and manufacturing by integrating product design, engineering, and ERP that at that time were siloed into one common solution. While industry experts were and still are skeptical about this endeavor, the team remained resolute and found a force in Microsoft Dynamics platform, which they leveraged to develop Bluestar PLM—a comprehensive product life cycle management (PLM) solution. The ground-breaking venture marked the inception of PDM technology—an independent software enterprise and a technology partner of Microsoft founded in the beginning of the 00’s—which effected a paradigm shift in the manufacturing ERP domain.
Bluestar PLM is seamlessly embedded in Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Operations and the Dynamics AX and offers end-to-end integration of 3D CAD, ERP, and PLM systems, which is unique. “Bluestar PLM represents a missing link that enables companies to seamlessly share ERP, PLM, and CAD data to all parties involved in product data, within a single system” says Jorgen Larsen, CEO, PDM technology–the company behind Bluestar PLM. Integrating product configuration tools with Bluestar PLM, the system generates 3D models based on defined configuration rules—besides providing visibility into the inventory levels or quality of component parts produced from a CAD workstation, without having to check the ERP modules. Bluestar PLM’s ability to reduce the number of systems to be supported has garnered immense appreciation from clients’ IT infrastructure support and management teams.
“Bluestar PLM represents a missing link that enables companies to seamlessly share ERP, PLM, and CAD data within a single system that can be used multiple times.”
The all-inclusive Bluestar PLM inside Dynamics 365 can be deployed faster than a multitude of separate solutions. Dan Fite, Business Development Director for North America, mentions that the company’s modus operandi is to understand clients’ ERP requirements and measure the performance that PLM can deliver. Clients’ ecosystems are “embedded” into the Microsoft Dynamics 365 environment, following which Bluestar PLM is integrated into the ERP system. “Our consultants work with clients to bring the data such as CAD drawing models into the Bluestar PLM system and secure it in a client’s environment,” states Fite. “With a single environment users of Bluestar are seeing great improvements. Rayloc’s Supply Chain Director has seen a 15 percent increase in efficiency and a reduction in BOM errors from 60 percent to below 10 percent.” The company extends the integration package to some of the earliest versions of Microsoft Dynamics to ensure that clients using older versions do not miss out on the benefits. A significant outcome of deploying Bluestar PLM is a drastic drop in the number of product detail errors as well as the hastening of engineering change order (ECO) process.
The impact of Bluestar PLM on ECO process proved to be a game-changer for Mobile Technologies Inc. (MTI)—a pioneer in mobile display technologies. Prior to deploying Bluestar PLM, MTI had to deal with numerous design iterations and the company’s ECO logs were performed manually in a spreadsheet, which was both time-consuming and cost-intensive. The manual operations resulted in erroneous entries and therefore seldom reflected all the part numbers under revision, which impacted the documentation process. To counter the problem, MTI engaged with PDM technology to unleash the power of Bluestar PLM. Along with features to optimize the workflow, Bluestar PLM enabled multi-site engineering collaboration by creating a central repository to store and manage engineering data. The loss of product information reduced significantly, improving the ECO time by nearly 80 percent, which impressed Microsoft as well.
Moving forward, PDM technology is expanding its support capabilities across Nashville, Atlanta, and Pilsen in the Czech Republic. Larsen mentions that the company is also working to automate the product design process using artificial intelligence and machine learning. “We will add new functions and features to our product with a focus on providing value to our customers’ business,” mentions Larsen.
CIOReview, Microsoft Special, December 07, 2017, page 16.
Download the 2 page pdf:
Jesper B. Thomsen is Project Manager in PDM Technology, which stands behind the product Bluestar PLM.
Bluestar PLM makes manufacturing systems communicate
Production processes show improvement at Hydratech Industries after implementing Bluestar PLM – the link between design and production.
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 much extra work and time was wasted in that process,” Bangsgaard said.
“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.”
Jesper Bangsgaard, Logistics Manager at Hydratech Industries
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.”
”This allows Hydratech Industries to automatically send drawings when we make a purchase order, because the two systems are ‘talking’ together.”
Jesper Bangsgaard, Logistics Manager at Hydratech Industries
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.
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.
The Autumn 2017 issue of The Record features a case study on Rayloc. The full-length article is as follows:
Making data available to everyone
By implementing technology from Bluestar PLM, engineering company Rayloc has made sure that the right data is now available to everyone in the company at the right time. This has led to fewer errors, improved efficiency and a faster time to market
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.”
“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.
“We couldn’t have done any of this without Bluestar PLM.”
“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.
The record, Issue : Autumn 2017, page 100-101.
Bluestar PLM is currently looking to fill some new positions. We are looking for the right candidates to fill the positions of Support Engineer and Implementation Consultant. If you have experience in the areas of ERP, CAD, PLM, Production in AX, or Engineering within a manufacturing company we should talk.
Please take a look at the job description here.