Sealed with outstanding service
A commitment to unparallelled customer service lies at the heart of AESSEAL, a business founded on expertise preventing liquids and gases from escaping into the environment. The company invests 7% of annual sales revenue in research and development and achieves exceptional delivery times for the mechanical seals and support systems that it designs and manufactures for rotating equipment such as pumps and motors. Millions of permutations can be assembled from stock and dispatched within 24 hours and a database founded on decades of experience speeds the development of non-standard products.
This focus has resulted in rising customer demand and industry recognition in the decades since the company was established in 1979. AESSEAL now supplies customers in 104 countries and operates from 230 locations, including 9 manufacturing sites and 58 repair facilities. Such impressive growth also presented a huge challenge, as Stuart Welsh, Head of IT, explains. “Our reputation is built on customer service and our speed of response yet we have gained customers who are far from our original base in the UK; shipping time has become our biggest business challenge. In order to continually improve our customer service the business recognised that we needed to create a global Design and Engineering team, supported by local manufacturing capability.”
Having agreed a business strategy, it became obvious that existing systems were inadequate and the company decided it was time to implement a more comprehensive product lifecycle solution. “We already use Solid Edge and NX so the obvious choice was Teamcenter because we knew that it would support a global engineering and manufacturing facility,” comments Stuart Welsh. “We undertook a thorough analysis of our business with Siemens and this enabled us to begin planning an implementation project.”
Implementing a global vision
Majenta PLM became AESSEAL’s partner, providing a consultant to work alongside users at AESSEAL headquarters. “Majenta PLM really understood our vision and put together the proposal which best met our business strategy,” states Stuart Welsh.
Chris Newton, Senior Designer, adds, “For the user community it was very important to establish workflows that truly represent the different ways in which we respond to and fulfil customer requirements. These can be complex, particularly when there are multiple products and configurations associated with one order or we need to understand the history of an existing installation. For example, with our old system, we were forced to find workarounds to bypass standard rules when special situations arose. Our Majenta PLM consultant clearly understood the user perspective and led us expertly through the process of defining new workflows and gathering feedback on proposals.”
For AESSEAL it was extremely important to integrate Teamcenter with other business systems such as CRM, MES and ERP and Majenta PLM helped ensure that this was built into the implementation project.
Training for key users began with a three-week ‘train the trainer’ bootcamp, jointly facilitated by AESSEAL and Majenta PLM. This was followed by the foundation of a dedicated training network for the global user base of 150. In the spring of 2013 engineering information already released for production was migrated to Teamcenter and over the following two weeks all new designs were instigated in Teamcenter. Finally all projects in progress were transferred over, along with CAM programs.
Visibility, speed and control
According to Stuart Welsh this series of data migrations revealed real-world issues such as the order in which actions need to be taken or the way in which specialist teams are notified of changes. For example, users stamp and publish design information at what they think is the end of the development process. If, however, they receive further significant data from the customer, such as detail about the type of liquid to be pumped, they must issue a revision control.
Improved quality across product, fitting, finish and service
The time taken up with manual processes has been cut by 75% and data is both reliable and consistent, particularly with regard to terminology, the categorisation of parts and the way in which information is posted through to accounts.”
“We have continued to tweak our workflows, which are more complex but now accurately reflect our real business process. We effectively asked our users to think more about the ways in which they interact with our customers and how they register and pass on information. This required quite a change of mindset. In return for this discipline we have control and visibility right from first enquiry to final delivery, which saves enormous amounts of time previously spent chasing internal information from colleagues. Teamcenter gives us a platform to deliver the board’s vision of an integrated, global engineering team.”
Teamcenter is now the gateway for CADCAM and as soon as anything is released for production all relevant information passes into the enterprise business system where it is available for any department to utilise. There are multiple points of integration between Teamcenter and other systems. When a design is released it is given a unique part number and this automatically generates stock records and bills of material. In addition, the ‘as designed’ BOM will include supporting information such as marketing documents with schematics.
Stuart Welsh cites one example: “The handover from engineering to commercial departments is now quicker, easier and less prone to error. We previously had to enter the number and description of parts into our ERP as a separate exercise whereas such details are now generated automatically.
Likewise, integration of our CRM system with Teamcenter means that full customer details are associated with design information. “We already notice the difference,” comments Chris Newton. “Everyone has a complete view and this means that they are able to make decisions more quickly, using the right information. This will improve the quality and efficiency of our development process, particularly with regard to projects that span across various sites. Teams in different locations will be able to check and review each other’s work.”
Protecting the future
With so many resources dedicated to innovation AESSEAL registers patents regularly and the company regards Teamcenter as a key enabler in the protection of intellectual property. As Stuart Welsh explains, “Teamcenter allows us to tightly control who has access to our technology and this is of clear benefit in situations where our design information is passed to local manufacturers. We have the ability to provide all the necessary geometric detail yet withhold critical information about the specific application of a product. On the other hand we can give our customers all the peripheral data they want when we pass drawings to them.”
Chris Newton concludes: “Crucial to our success so far is the fact that Majenta PLM allowed us to develop at our own pace whilst providing technical guidance. We have learnt a lot and with Majenta PLM’s continuing support we will continue to improve.”
Stephen Shaw, Group Engineering Director, looks to the next phase: “The aim of the Group Board was to implement a solution to support the business strategy of a global engineering team with local manufacturing support and enable us to continue to improve levels of customer service and business growth, and we have achieved that. As a Board, we can now focus on the expansion of our business world-wide, knowing that Teamcenter will provide the supporting engineering platform for growth.”