Large-scale engineering organizations constantly search for ways to differentiate their products from the competition. Many engineering-centric companies are using acquisitions as a way to increase their product line and market reach. As product complexity and variety increases, the smooth flow of data in the organization increases in importance. The sheer volume of product data increases, requiring not just the organization but its supply chain to spend more resources defining, translating, and transferring product data and solving technical problems associated with data management.
Ruhrpumpen is a prime example of this set of challenges. It is a global centrifugal pump technology company with a wide variety of engineered-to-order products for Oil & Gas, Chemical, Power, Industrial Applications, and Water & Mining. They also manufacture a wide variety of off-the-shelf centrifugal pumps for these industries and more. From its home base in Germany, it has grown by acquisition; it now has manufacturing and sales offices in 11 countries on five continents.
Ruhrpumpen management has three key vectors as their strategic focus for growth:
- To expand geographically, with new plants in Brazil, Argentina, India, and China;
- To increase product offerings in the higher-profit engineering-to-order market;
- To improve documentation processes to satisfy demanding customers and gain a reputation as a technically agile partner.
Successful expansion requires great documentation processes. But the company discovered its Research & Development plants around the globe were using ad hoc processes. There are various systems for part numbers, classifications, specifications, and controls. Ruhrpumpen decided it needed to automate, standardize, and streamline their document processes, to make documents available across plants, and to remove time consuming and inefficient manual processes.
“It’s critical that we all have ready access to the same information, so that drawings and other engineering specifications are easily shared and controlled,” says Victor Melendez, Ruhrpumpen’s corporate development director. “For example, we need to make sure that if a part number is going to be made in Germany they’re able to pull the engineering drawing, with exactly the same revision level and with all the proper specifications that will allow them to make exactly the part that is needed. We need to ensure that happens.”
The lack of consistent processes was more than a procedural problem. “The major financial impact was not necessarily the number of people who were creating transmittals, but that our outdated system made it difficult to invoice for our final deliverables,” says Jenny Knox, a Ruhrpumpen project manager. “It was very hard for us to track when things were completed, or when something hadn’t been completed.”
The company decided to standardize on Synergis Adept for document management globally. Now all Ruhrpumpen facilities are able to share and control resources regardless of location. “Now that we are working with controlled, predictable, automated document management systems, globalization of engineering processes is a lot easier,” notes Melendez. “Adept allows us to make sure all of the drawing are up to the latest engineering revision level, especially for all our newest leading models.”
Melendez says Ruhrpumpen also standardized on the use of 3D modeling in Autodesk Inventor. “Adept allows us to make sure that all the information is properly shared and properly controlled between the different facilities.”
Another benefit of rolling out standardized modeling and document management globally was the strategic ability to control access to information. “We needed to start moving our data into different areas to be managed by the right people,” says Knox, “and then give access to all the people who need it — but in a controlled way. That’s one of the areas where Adept is really enabling us. It’s allowed us to do these kinds of global administration that would just not be possible in the past.”
Research has shown that as engineering activities become more distributed, there is a need for greater collaboration both internally and with supply chain partners, to meet the TCQ (Time, Cost and Quality) demands for organizational survival and growth. There is a full case study available describing in detail how Ruhrpumpen chose and implemented Adept, and what the results have been:
Randall S. Newton is the principal analyst and managing director at Consilia Vektor, a consulting firm serving the engineering software industry. He has been directly involved in engineering software in a number of roles since 1985. More information is available at https://www.linkedin.com/in/randallnewton.