Medium-sized manufacturing companies face many challenges: Cotemporary product development requires data integration from multiple sources. Sophistcated supply chain management is key to meet competitive production schedules. In addition, it is important to keep track and control of all ongoing projects. Finally, the quality of the products must be guaranteed.
All these factors were relevant for our customer Explospot Systems: As an OEM and global supplier of Explosion Suppression Systems, which develops its own products and produces them in-house, it is essential to keep an eye on the entire value chain: from the raw material to the tracking of the finished product at the customer's site.
Managing the numerous business data with programs such as Microsoft Excel quickly reached its limits: Spread over different data sources, the overview of the dependency between development, production and project flow was missing. Changes were neither passed on automatically, transparently nor intuitively into the subsequent value-added process.
Our customer was looking for a solution to digitize, manage, and present all business data and processes consistently.
Our team of specialists in developing methods, programming and user qualification has created a practical and efficient "Digital Factory" for our customer, headquartered in South Africa.
The products of Explospot Systems are configured and assembled according to customer requirements. With quantities between one and several thousand and delivery periods between one and five years of series, a clear specification for each department is absolutely necessary. Changes must be made clearly, transparently, and unambiguously. The relationship between product, process and resources must be exactly defined and system-based: How is my product structured? And how do I assemble the product from the individual components? Are the parts manufactured in-house, subcontracted, or purchased?
First, we upgraded all components of the company Explospot Systems to a database-supported platform. In this case we opted for the PLM solution Aras Innovator. For each individual part, the relevant information such as material, dimensions, quantity, status, illustration, target price, etc. have been migrated from a file-based to a database information – regardless of whether it is raw material or a purchased part. With more than 800 individual parts, the information content is extensive and no longer manageable with pure file-based programs such as Microsoft Excel.
In a second step, we added the relevant process plans for the production of the components and the assembly. Here, all work orders can be structured as step-by-step instructions, including tools, programs, programming languages or machines to be used.
For example, the raw material is milled in various stages. It is important for the employee to know which machine is used for each step to produce the corresponding component. At the same time, the program helps to keep track of which parts (e.g. bearings and screws) need to be ordered. If the stock decreases, this is automatically color-coded in the "Stock Message". A repeat order is facilitated, as each part has been updated with all relevant information such as suppliers and target price: With three clicks you know what you need and where to get it. This way, production can be optimally planned.
Multi-CAD Data Management
Due to the close cooperation of Explospot Systems with customers and suppliers, the challenge of processing CAD data from various authoring systems immediately occurs. The approach of operating all necessary authoring systems in-house was at no time sustainable, both infrastructurally and financially. We have therefore used best practices from over 18 years in the automotive OEM environment for our solution and used a multi-CAD viewer and native data converter. The robust and versatile viewer from NetAllied Systems GmbH was quickly integrated into Aras Innovator. In this way, each department gains insight into the relevant data – depending on their assigned role in the system and the access rights.
Another challenge for our customer Explospot Systems: To keep track and control over all ongoing projects in view of the lack of update options between the project participants and insufficient data exchange. Here, too, we have used modules from the Aras Innovator and adapted them to customer needs. The tool helps to keep an eye on current and planned projects and to visualize changes or updates.
Explospot Systems uses a wide variety of components, tools, programs, machines, and CNC program codes. The assembly of the products varies depending on the individual customer requirements. With the help of our digital solution, we first divided the projects into individual project phases. In turn, we have assigned work packages, resources, project managers and tasks to each phase.
In a next step, goals were defined for individual work packages. The visualization of the project flow using a Gantt chart helps to display and plan the processes.
Project reports and interactive dashboards are used to monitor projects and give selected employees insight into status, costs, and schedules. Work orders are generated automatically, as are reports and process plans. In addition, we have used the possibility to run various software scripts in the background with Java and to integrate small functionalities. So, every employee knows exactly what he has to do where and by when.
Explospot Systems also manufactures products that are used and installed in explosive environments. Therefore, the requirements on the part of quality assurance are particularly high. The company's security solutions must pass through regular audits and are certified according to ISO IEC 80079. For each component, the company must document how the parts are manufactured, tested and further processed.
A so-called inspection sheet is issued for each part produced – including all essential quality features. In the past, this used to result in a huge stack of papers. But with the help of our methods and implementation in Aras Innovator the sheet can be issued within a few clicks and accessed any time.
With the Quality Management module, the platform ensures seamless tracking and transparency of production in accordance with ISO 9001 and IEC 80079. Test protocols are linked to the product sold – instead of being somewhere in the SharePoint.
After the product has been assembled from the individual components, it receives a final and unique serial number as a "sellable part". This step ensures complete traceability because quality assurance does not end with the sale. Service and maintenance are an important part of the value chain. With its customers all over the world, it is essential for Explospot Systems to know which product the respective customer has on site. This is the only way to ensure that the relevant, certified spare part can be delivered in the event of repair or maintenance. With the help of a step-by-step instruction in Aras Innovator, we were able to make the correct installation or replacement much easier for colleagues on site.
The entire value chain at a glance
Our customer Explospot Systems as a medium-sized manufacturing company lacked one thing above all: the overview of all business data and processes. With our development of methods, customization and user qualification based on the software solution Aras Innovator, we have made this possible: On the digital platform, the complete cycle of a product can be transparently mapped, monitored, and improved – from engineering to production with project planning to delivery including quality management and aftersales with use and maintenance at the customer's site. With the tool, production can be planned in a structured and systematic manner and the quality of the products can be ensured thanks to the uniform product-related documentation structure – both aspects are particularly important for our customer.
Do you have similar challenges in your production, or do you also want to implement an integrated and flexible solution with a PLM system like Aras Innovator? At HS Development & Services we help you to integrate the system precisely into your company – faster, more efficiently and more economically. You directly invest in the optimization of your individual business processes.
Our service includes a customer-oriented, innovative development of methods that addresses the business and work processes of your company and translates them into an efficient software solution. Changing a software solution is always a challenge – especially with regard to the understanding and acceptance of users and employees. We are aware of this. From the very beginning we focus on close cooperation with the employees and support them until the effective use of the new solution.
We are happy to consult and enable you on your way to Digital Manufacturing!