Well positioned, worldwide

Steinbeis advises clients on the selection of a product life cycle management system (PLM system)

The challenges of new, rapidly expanding target markets in Asia and Latin America, combined with the growing need to decentralize development activities, are heightening data management requirements. To maintain its global leadership in international markets, the machine and plant manufacturer BHS Corrugated decided to find a PLM system that could be made uniform worldwide. It was helped by the Steinbeis Transfer Center for Innovation und Organization, which has a wealth of experience in the evaluation of complex software used in CAD and PLM.

BHS Corrugated develops and produces corrugated cardboard machines, individual units and corrugated rolls in over 20 countries. It is one of the world’s largest system providers to the corrugated cardboard industry and can construct corrugated board machines up to 150 meters in length and 500 tons in weight. But as the business environment undergoes change in different countries, BHS Corrugated is having to localize more and more products and make solutions for individual countries. This makes increased decentralization of development activities almost unavoidable, posing particularly high demands on CAD and PLM data management.

To gear itself to efficient development processes in the long term, across all sites, the company from northern Bavaria decided to introduce a uniform global PLM system. To identify the right system, the company called in the experts at the Eislingen-based Steinbeis Transfer Center for Innovation and Organization. Drawing on their experience, the Steinbeis consultants were able – within a short period of time – to take a snapshot of development, as well as other departments directly involved in the development process. Based on their analysis, an ideal scenario was put together.

Following meetings with an interdisciplinary team of workers from what would later become the application departments, it immediately emerged that inter-site CAD data management was not the only issue. Product configurations and, related to this, the computer-based optimization of approval processes between development and sales, were also hugely important.

“The project entailed solving two key challenges,” explains Thomas Hecky, who was responsible for the project and is head of design and development at BHS Corrugated. “The first challenge lay in the interdisciplinary nature of the people involved and the variety of requirements. Even within development, we had to get mechanics, electronics and software pulling in the same direction. Then there were people from sales, project management and IT. On top of that, we had to work out the scale and scope of existing PLM systems in terms of product configuration, sales configuration and project management, or, if necessary, pinpoint procurement requirements for other systems.” Using applied methods and their highly specialized expert knowledge, the Steinbeis consultants worked successfully alongside each area as sparring partners, resulting in a list of requirements that would be understandable to the systems providers.

BHS Corrugated took part in a series of “benchmarking events” to identify the best-case-scenario PLM system. The project documentation was so detailed that afterwards, it was still possible to include a further system in the selection process. Subsequent to a change in circumstances, the actual possibility of finding an ERP solution to the PLM problem had emerged.

Thanks to the support of the Steinbeis consultants, the selection process only lasted six months as agreed. Rollout preparations are already in full swing involving a team of key users. The first rollout wave is already planned for the end of this year on the site in Weiherhammer. This lays the foundations for a uniform global PLM system and efficient development processes at all company sites, even outside Germany. BHS Corrugated should be able to maintain a key edge over its competitors in the future.

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