In these uncertain times, the world faces many critical challenges. However, never has there been a greater opportunity for manufacturers to have a positive impact. From the design engineer, to the VP of Quality, everyone can be an agent of change for good.
While the COVID-19 Global Pandemic is at the forefront of everyone’s mind, Climate Change remains as one of the greatest challenges facing our generation and our ecosphere. It poses a real danger to our world, yet in most parts of the globe, this hotbed issue has been pushed from the political and social agenda as the pandemic and economic concerns are taking precedence.
However, in the face of these predicaments, the EU has seen an opportunity to grow their future economy by accelerating, not slowing down, the shift to a more resilient energy future as they rebuild from the pandemic and remain committed to the European Green Deal. To achieve a sustainable economic recovery, they have reevaluated how products should be rated for energy efficiency and eco-friendliness.
Nidec Global Appliance, the largest manufacturer of compressors for refrigeration, has stepped up to fast-track greener innovation. Refrigeration represents 7% of the average household’s energy consumption—down from 25% since the 1990s with Energy Star compliant models widely available. However, in a fiercely competitive market, they had to speed up their time to market and do more with less.
Nidec Global Appliance, a division of the giant motor conglomerate based in Japan, is well known for pioneering the development of variable speed compressors and the use of natural refrigerants, critical for reducing energy consumption.
Nidec's journey of digital transformation began with a step-by-step PLM implementation process that was comprehensive and spanned their entire organization from the top down, with clearly measurable results.
The company looked to DX when it was facing serious competition from innovative manufacturers in China and Japan.
If they could do more with less, they would be in a solid position to win over more customers. And to do that, they needed to innovate on their time-to-market challenges for new products and modifications to existing models…all while keeping the costs low.
The company’s workflow culture was project-based. This was wholly inefficient because they didn't have standardized processes in place, such as change and configuration management. This resulted in delays, inefficiencies, and high costs of poor quality. For example, compressors would get rejected on the line, or they would be returned from the field because they were either defective or failed to meet requirements.
Documentation was another issue. Take certifications for instance. Not being able to re-use a product’s test certifications could significantly delay the release of product updates.
And finally, issues in how fast the company could implement new parts and get new suppliers certified were also posing challenges for Nidec.
There were no enterprise-wide collaboration tools and processes in place to relieve all these pressures.
That was until they took a step-by-step approach to implementing a robust PLM platform, and becoming product-based.
This undertaking was a true partnership between IT and Engineering. They began with PTC’s Windchill PLM Platform for PDM, BOM management, and change and configuration management. This was a key enabler for Nidec, providing them with a solid foundation for value-driven digital transformation. They were able to achieve significant reductions in double work through their PLM integration with SAP’s ERP [see graphic below]. Prior to the integration, developers had to input their work into segregated ERP and PLM systems (i.e. Windchill), doubling effort and increasing the likelihood of mistakes.
Data in SAP was different from Windchill. What was the source of truth? While this did not disrupt individual project teams, it failed at an enterprise-level for true collaborative PLM, as the lack of process control, supplier control, and inspection/test governance caused further delays in getting products to market. For example, a single part might have two places where it could be inserted, or a single assembly step could potentially use two different parts. Now, moving designs from development into production is seamless as the BOM and related work instructions are consistent.
With this implementation, the company finally had an authoritative source of truth from which they could begin to boldly respond to Climate Change, taking on global competitors with expedient time-to-market innovations.
Nidec was able to build in a culture of agile-based best practices from the top down, creating standardized processes and using Windchill for governance and traceability.
"The IT team learned with R&D to embrace together a more agile approach. Our teamwork, methodology, and tools have evolved over time based on a continuous improvement philosophy."
Thalita Begliomini, Global IT Manager for Governance, Risk, and Compliance, Nidec Global Appliance
“With each new generation, we have delivered a 5% improvement in energy efficiency. Innovation is present through innovative tools.”
Gerson Heusy, R&D Senior Manager, Nidec Global Appliance
Currently, 900 employees are using Windchill with 300 using it every day globally, 24/7.
Nidec Global Appliance achieved a business-value apotheosis as they wove quality, cost savings, quicker time to market, and a complete corporate digital transformation into the fabrication of their products—while addressing the EU mandate for greener-focused manufactured goods. They took the steps necessary to agilely respond to changing sustainability industry trends and global competitive pressures with innovation and vision backed by PTC’s industry-leading product lifecycle management platform.
Nick Iandolo works for PTC’s PLM Product Marketing Group; he writes content ranging from newsletters, case studies, blog posts, white papers, podcast/webcast scripts, to web-content, and more. He is a marketing/technology writer, UX content writer, digital copywriter, and a journalist whose work has appeared in publications such as Make Tech Easier, Smart Card News, Eduspace, Motif Magazine, and Medium.com.
He has worked for technology, marketing, and media companies from L-1 Identity Solutions, Satcon Technology Corp., SeaChange International, Thunder House Online Marketing Communications, Irma S. Mann Strategic Marketing, to Dedham Television and Media Engagement Center.
Nick’s work covers everything from journalism, marketing communications, business research & analyses, entertainment reviews, fitness tips, YA fiction, to writing about emerging technologies and trends such as Blockchain. He lives with his wife, daughter, and golden retriever in Dedham Mass.