There’s more to the Black Forest than just cuckoo clocks. The midsize companies with a long-standing tradition in the region are highly innovative, with clock manufacturer Kundo from St. Georgen producing the first transistor alarm clock in the world in the 50s, followed by the first quartz alarm clock in the 70s, and the first radio-controlled clock in the 80s.
A long tradition of technical innovation
In this period, Kundo also launched development of devices for heat measurement. In 1992, heat measurement was separated off from the clock area and became an independent company called Kundo SystemTechnik GmbH. Numerous innovations were developed to market readiness here too, including the first electronic heating cost distributor or the first radio system for capturing consumption data. With 110 employees, Kundo SystemTechnik GmbH now generates sales of around 18 million euros through the development, production, and sale of electronic heating cost distributors, heat counters, and the radio system in St. Georgen, a location with a long tradition.
Kundo implemented SAP release 4.6 B in 1999, and has been supported by ASS.TEC GmbH in Villingen-Schwenningen since 2001 – together, the two companies have successfully implemented numerous projects, including the release upgrade to SAP R/3 Enterprise in 2003 and implementation of the SAP Business Information Warehouse (SAP BW).
mySAP PLM linked with SolidWorks
As the company was already using SAP R/3 Enterprise, the project managers at Kundo decided to tightly link up the work processes in development, purchasing, and production using mySAP Product Lifecycle Management (mySAP PLM). This solution also offered clear cost advantages, as it avoided duplicate data maintenance and also meant there were no additional expenses for a further software license.
mySAP PLM needed to be integrated with the existing CAD solution SolidWorks to enable the company to not only digitally map the development documentation but also integrate the CAD data in the system. The purpose of linking up the two systems was to ensure the standardized management of all BOMs, articles, and documents.
Geared towards midsize businesses: Step-by-step implementation
Implementation was to be carried out by a partner that would not only provide support beyond implementation and startup, but that could also demonstrate its experience in the optimization of business and project-related procedures. Kundo chose ASS.TEC GmbH, Villingen-Schwenningen, the consulting firm that had already carried out the configuration and customizing of SAP R/3 Enterprise for the company.
Initial discussions were held at the start of 2004, and a prototype was then created on the SAP test system. Fine tuning and implementation for the SAP production system then took place as of May 2004. First, a content server was installed to store CAD originals and document management was configured. The CAD interface between SolidWorks and SAP R/3 Enterprise was then set up on the work stations, and additional functions such as the synchronization of BOMs were implemented. At the end of 2005, product change management will be installed, a central logistics function used to change documents and record the history. Kundo is thus able to mange all BOMs, articles, and documents via the implemented SAP-SolidWorks interface.
Jürgen Ettwein, project manager at ASS.TEC GmbH: “Particularly for mySAP PLM projects, we believe that it makes good sense to implement the solution iteratively, that is to say, step by step. Smaller project steps completed in periods of three to five months mean that project results can be delivered quickly, while the requirements of the company are still closely observed.”
Extremely well organized: management and processes
Design manager Fred Hintz is also extremely satisfied with the project results. He cites the greatest benefit of the PLM system as the management of documents such as technical drawings, 3D models, NC programs, and text documents. mySAP PLM provides functions that allow automatic version management, the classification of documents, and a search across properties. The status network, which describes a document’s route through the company up to its release or archiving, can be specifically defined for each document type. As a result, every employee in every location has access to all the required documents. A flexible and powerful authorization concept is used to control access to the data.
A further advantage of the PLM system is the generation and management of different types of BOM. For example, material, sales order, or document BOMs can be managed for different types of use, in production, design, sales, and costing, for example. It is possible not only to access where-used lists for materials and documents but also to perform a mass exchange of components. Engineering change management forms the basis for constantly up-to-date data records.
Since the introduction of mySAP PLM, Kundo development, work preparation, purchasing, and production departments have been working closely together, and every project team member has an insight into the other departments. The web-based Design Collaboration module, which is to be activated at a later date, will enable this coordination process to be completed even more quickly.
Time and costs clearly reduced
The PLM solution with CAD tie implemented at Kundo makes it possible to directly manage SolidWorks models and structures in SAP while at the same time allowing immediate access to all the key SAP R/3 functions. A user in the design department now opens the SAP window from his or her CAD system and in an end-to-end workflow can access object-based metadata and has the option of bi-directional communication between SolidWorks and SAP R/3 with mySAP PLM. “ Thanks to the introduction of mySAP PLM as an end-to-end solution, we have been able to optimize our development processes from the first sample part right through to series approval, and have thus also considerably reduced the development time,” states the design manager. “We have already determined a potential saving of around 20 percent across the complete value chain.”
The aim of achieving a higher degree of integration has been met not least thanks to fully automatic integration for the approval of drawings: The BOMs from the CAD systems are updated automatically when the model is approved. “But our purchasing department is also benefiting from the system,” adds Fred Hintz. “When the designer adds a new bought-in part to an assembly, he or she simultaneously creates material master data in the ERP system, which automatically generates the basic purchasing information in SAP R/3 and is made available to the employees responsible.” Thanks to mySAP PLM, all those involved in the process have access to the most up-to-date information. It is clear to see who changed what and when, as well as which version of the file is released and thus the most up-to-date. Fred Hintz believes this also has concrete economic advantages: “The advantages of the SAP solution can be exploited across the whole company – and this results in synergies that enable us to avoid ineffective administrative or duplicate work and concentrate on the real task in hand, namely the development of innovative products.“