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SAP PLM – Journey to a single source of truth

SAP PLM: A single source of truth

From initial assessment and recommendation through several SAP PLM project phases, we look at a client journey to a Single Source of Truth in manufacturing data and the efficiencies gained as a result.

This client is a leading manufacturer of dispensed beverage equipment headquartered in the midwest. The SAP PLM journey began back in the 2009 with the selection of the SAP ERP platform, based in large part on SAP providing a robust and fully integrated PLM module.

An Agility Challenge: Our client was facing internal challenges resulting from product design changes, customer requested enhancements, and a slow process to envision and design new products for prototype and production.

With so many diverse processes and silos of information to bring together, the client opted for a phased approach to PLM. The goal was to ensure that each phase had clear benefits and achievable objectives that would drive success, improvement, and efficiency at each completed step. Beginning with a Strategic Assessment & Recommendation (SAR) project with chosen partner LeverX, a PLM Roadmap was developed and the PLM implementation began in earnest.

Phase 1 - Initial DMS Single Source, document change process, Visual Enterprise

The initial phase of the SAP PLM implementation focused on activating SAP CAD Integration and SAP Visual Enterprise. This is the foundation of a strong PLM vision, providing versioning, revisions, history and full linkage between documentation and SAP master data. Over 500,000 CAD files were analyzed and converted from PDMWorks and various network drives into the SAP DMS environment. This represented 17 distinct types of documents and enabled comprehensive and consistent security and change controls for engineering documents.

Phase 2 - Project Management 1 – Migrate to SAP PPM, sunset old PM software

Phase 2 focused on implementing the SAP PPM module and gaining better visibility and control over project resources. The PPM solution enabled the ability to create projects, assign resources, track project time, and report and manage to resource PTO time. One hundred twenty projects were set up in PPM with 5 levels of expense approval and status network. A KPI dashboard was created driven from 200 columns of project data. Reports were developed for project status, key milestones and assigned hours, enabling greater management visibility across all initiatives.

Phase 3 - Expand DMS, initial ECM process & basic workflow via IPS

The core emphasis in Phase 3 was Engineering Change management, and included an upgrade to the core SAP platform. By implementing the Integrated Process Solution (IPS) add on from LeverX, our client enabled department control over key product development and modification workflow processes. Engineering can build new workflows to break down key change notice database and Master Data Management processes. An email enabled approval workflow was designed to enable users to be able to approve changes without having to log into SAP itself.

Phase 4 - Expand Portfolio & Project Management

This phase of the project is ongoing, and emphasizes expanded PPM capabilities improving upon project resource management, project cost management robust project reporting and PPM Workflow. Improving upon executive dashboards and reporting standards based on usage of PPM from phase 2 was a key driver here and a dashboard updated to include 250 columns of project data was included. Easy Document Management for project documents was also implemented, ensuring the goal of a Single Source of Truth within the SAP ecosystem was achieved. LeverX IPS was utilized to implement workflow for PPM Project Phase approval.

Benefits Obtained from enabling SAP PLM as a Single Source of Truth

The client selected LeverX to lead them on this SAP PLM journey based on several key factors including their SAP PLM, PPM/NPDI, and Engineering Change Management expertise. LeverX’s ability to blend strong technical knowledge with business processes and discrete manufacturing expertise, alongside a thorough knowledge of industy best practices were essential to a successful implementation. The initial assessment approach (SAR) provided a clear roadmap to the Single Source of Truth that stakeholders and team members could rally behind and ensure everyone was working to a common goal. Twelve data silos were initially targeted, 14 were consolidated through this project. Clear benefits from each core area of the project are 

Overarching Benefits of SAP PLM

  • Ability to be more disciplined in approach to product development and support.
  • Automate manual tasks, eliminate redundant data silos, and reduce nonvalue-added work.
  • Improved management visibility

Measurable Metrics & Major Outcomes

  • Reduced New Product Development and major customer request turn time in Engineering Services by 35%. This improvement allows information to be production ready 29 days quicker per customer order.
  • Reduced minor customer request turn time in Engineering Services by 71% 
  • Reduced the average months for equipment set up in SAP to first sale by 71% (8.3 to 2.4)
  • Reduced engineering change request rework by 8%
  • Reduced engineering change requests in queue by 50% (500 to 250)
  • Improvements allow information to be production ready 32 days quicker per customer order
  • More hours available for value-added tasks like Quality, New Product Development, and customer requests - 20 people had 50% more time for priorities
  • Cost avoidance by automating PDF generation with our conversion engine, eliminating the need for 100 additional SAP licenses in manufacturing. Additional savings from sunset of PM and PDM software.
  • DMS and PPM allow us to automate electronic purchase requisitions with workflow
  • Reduced manual entry to support customer website by using SAP material master and push to website, reducing graphic designer time by 90%