Competence for doors, outsourcing for IT

PTS Pfullendorfer Tor-Systeme GmbH & Co.KG, founded in 1949, is the market leader in Germany for the production of wood-planked tilting and sectional doors. Around 350,000 have been installed for private contractors, in the agriculture sector, and for small businesses, and the figure increases by around 7,000 each year. Each of these doors is made to measure and produced in line with customer requirements by the company’s 100 employees. Various materials and woods can be provided on request, the doors are individually designed, with or without actuator, as a tilting, swing, or sectional doors. The company can manufacturer around 2.3 billion variants of its main product – the tilting door – alone, and it’s therefore no wonder that the company quickly looked for an IT system support to support its customer-oriented production logistics.
In 1980, for example, PTS gained experience with desktop computers for the technical design of doors, and in 1983, the IBM/36 system was introduced with custom-programmed solutions for handling business processes. This was followed by AutoCAD in the design department in 1985, the changeover to the first PCs in 1987, and AS/400 with a standard program (PPS-Bas) and custom enhancements for materials management, production planning, and workshop control in 1991. In 1997, Gerhard Hügle, CEO of PTS Pfullendorfer Tor-Systeme GmbH & Co.KG, thoroughly researched the efficiency and costs of outsourcing IT to a centralized, professional computer center. This research was based on the information that he found in a study about SAP outsourcing.

Many years’ experience with SAP outsourcing

A reduction in costs, an increase in quality, the professional handling of technical developments, and a reduction in personnel and IT costs were the decisive factors for PTS in this outsourcing model. “We don’t have either a large IT budget or in-house IT experts – and therefore, like many other companies, we initially believed that SAP was only suitable for large enterprises. However, this attitude changed when we discovered the advantages of outsourcing for our company. With outsourcing, we can concentrate on our core competencies; for us, information technology is a tool that helps us become even more profitable,” explains Hügle.
PTS’s requirements relating to the outsourcing solutions were by no means modest. The company is a make-to-order manufacturer and must therefore be able to meet all individual customer requirements within a short period of time. In addition to the standard SAP software for the areas of Financial Accounting (FI), Controlling (CO), Human Resources (HR), Production Planning (PP), Sales and Distribution (SD), and Materials Management (MM), PTS uses the Variant Configurator (LO-VC). This functionality enables all the different predefined door types to be mapped using a “variant product”. A “super bill of materials” (super BOM), which contains all conceivable components, is created for this in SAP R/3. The related “super task list” defines all possible work steps. The solution automatically selects the right components and operations for a product variant. As a result, a precise costing can be drawn up for the required product when the order is entered.

The Variant Configurator improves the service offered to customers – they receive immediate information on when the product can be delivered in the required form, and what it will cost. For the company, the solution speeds the processing of orders, as BOMs, task lists, and costs are drawn up as soon as the data is entered, and do not have to be compiled in labor-intensive work steps. The Variant Configurator therefore also increases efficiency in the materials flow, because a purchase order is automatically generated for those materials that are not already in stock.

Rapid changeover

Preparatory work
Preparatory work

In 2003, internal discussions led to a change to the computer center and outsourcing provider, once the current contract had expired. At an SMB event organized by ASS.TEC GmbH, Hügle found out about a new service offering with new service features, including outsourcing with application hosting, IT consulting/management, and the migration of hardware, operating systems, and databases for the efficient and low-cost operation and management of customer systems. ASS.TEC provided a detailed project roadmap indicating the ways that a company could rapidly move the operation of its IT systems to a new computer center, without that operation being interrupted. The consultants at ASS.TEC also showed a deep understanding of SAP processes and knowledge of outsourcing processes needed to meet all SAP operating and security requirements. The contract with ASS.TEC was signed in January 2004.
ASS.TEC is initially operating PTS’s SAP solution and guarantees service around the clock. The services include the set-up and operation of the production systems, operation and maintenance of the infrastructure, and system operation and base support. ASS.TEC also provides helpdesk and application support. As soon as the details of the contract had been clarified, the preparatory work for the changeover began both in Pfullendorf and in ASS.TEC’s computer center in Villingen-Schwenningen. After data transport and import to the ASS.TEC computer center, ATS carried out initial acceptance tests, which involved testing the functions of the solution with the aim of achieving smooth final data handover and of reducing the downtime of the systems to a minimum. To this end, PTS took a very close look at the access times and availability, as well as the print functions and external interfaces.
On March 29, 2004, PTS released the system for productive operation. After just a few hours, stable SAP R/3 applications for Financial Accounting, Human Resources, and the logistics modules were available one more to the PTS users. Gerhard Hügle states: “Response times that are six times faster, and much better reaction times are paying off compared to the previous hosting partner.”

“Efficient management tool”

The replacement of the old “connections” and the use of the services in the ASS.TEC computer center are just the first steps for PTS in the new IT age. “The next step will be connection to the Internet and the release upgrade to SAP R/3 Enterprise,” states Gerhard Hügle. “We expect the guaranteed system availability and response times to lead to a clear improvement in order processing times. This will help us not just to increase our competitiveness, but also improve customer satisfaction. The optimization of business processes will also enable us to make considerable savings, and the saved costs can be channels in to new areas. This means long-term security and maximum investment protection – for me, the most important additional benefits,” concludes the CEO.

Volker A. Holzapfel
Volker A. Holzapfel