Without a central data management system, Liebherr-Components Biberach’s stakeholders throughout the product lifecycle were siloed and unable to efficiently collaborate, increasing costs from the coordination and communication efforts required to avoid rework and scrap.

Migrating to Windchill to Modernize Product Development Process

The Liebherr Group comprises more than 130 companies on every continent of the world and employs a workforce of more than 43,000 people. Liebherr’s companies are categorized into eleven product divisions including: Earthmoving Equipment, Mining, Mobile Cranes, Concrete Technology, and Components. The Components division focuses on the development, design, production, and reconditioning of high-performance components for mechanical, hydraulic, and electrical drive and control technology for Liebherr OEM divisions that manufacture excavators, mining equipment, crawlers, and mobile cranes.

Business Challenge

Liebherr-Components Biberach GmbH – an entity of Liebherr’s Component division -- was using Creo Elements/Direct Model Manager for product data management (PDM). Not only was Model Manager easy to use, but it was very user-friendly with its seamless integration supporting the company’s drawing-centric approach perfectly. In addition to Model Manager, Liebherr-Components Biberach GmbH used separate homegrown tools for Bill of Materials (BOM) management, change management, and article management. As the division continued to expand to more global production sites and adopt tighter engineering integration and collaboration with the Liebherr OEMs, it became obvious that they needed to reevaluate the way they were managing product data. They needed to ensure all stakeholders were accessing and using the same information. Because there was no central data management system, stakeholders throughout the product lifecycle were siloed and unable to efficiently collaborate. This resulted in increased costs due to the coordination and communication efforts required to avoid rework and scrap.

The Solution

Liebherr-Components Biberach GmbH realized that it needed to move away from its drawing-centric product development approach towards a parts-centric one that would make it easier for stakeholders throughout the product lifecycle to quickly find the information they need. To achieve this, the manufacturer decided to use Windchill — PTC’s product lifecycle management solution. Windchill offered Liebherr a single platform with a consolidated view to its systems. In addition, Windchill streamlined article management, BOM management and change management to a single system – making homegrown tools a thing of the past. Deploying Windchill, the team embarked upon three initiatives to digitally transform the way that it manages product information:

  1. Replace disjointed PDM tools for improved product design efficiency and process reliability
  2. Create a single global platform to manage and access all product data in the enterprise
  3. Improve collaboration among all departments include Sales, R&D, Marketing, Purchasing, and Manufacturing, as well as improve collaboration with other Liebherr divisions

All of us were amazed by how smooth the migration went. We prepared well  for this migration, but a special compliment to PTC’s Customer Success Team in terms of knowledgeability and execution of this migration.   - Stefan Türck, IT Lead, Liebherr-Components Biberach GmbH
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The Results

A mere ten weeks after the migration to Windchill, the team noticed they were already creating products at the same rate they had been when using Model Manager. “All of us were amazed how smooth the migration went. We prepared well for this migration, but a special compliment to PTC in terms of knowledgeability and execution of this migration,” said Stefan Türck, IT Lead, Liebherr-Components Biberach GmbH. Today the team is working faster, in terms of creating new products and executing changes on existing products, with Windchill than they were via their drawing-centric process.

With global access to the product data contained in Windchill, all stakeholders are able to more efficiently collaborate in the product development process. “Collaboration with our global manufacturing sites has improved, given that change notes are now executed in a traceable, clean fashion, giving us greater quality and more time for product innovations,” said Matthias Gindele, project manager, Liebherr-Components Biberach. This formal change management process makes it easier than ever for stakeholders to feel confident that they are using the most up-to-date product information. Having up-to-date, accurate product information available at their fingertips means that team members are able to spend less time searching for information and more time on valuable activities. This availability of data also means team members are enabled to make better decisions – making Liebherr’s Component division both more competitive and more agile.

With Windchill, Liebherr can now manage lifecycle states with each product: whether it is in “engineering/prototype”, “series/production”, or “service”. This classification clearly separates products by maturity level and enables Liebherr-Components Biberach GmbH to set parts prices for customers accordingly. For example: Liebherr-Components Biberach GmbH was able to clearly flag 20% of the parts being managed by Windchill as service parts. This distinction allows Liebherr to link pricing strategies with product maturity, resulting in an expected additional service revenue. In addition, as part of the lifecycle management, 5% of parts could be identified and classified as “obsolete”, and thus be removed from engineering and downstream processes. With the removal of these parts, direct cost savings in engineering were realized and unnecessary costs from executing changes for obsolete parts were removed.

“One year post go-live, we clearly see the value of Windchill and PLM and the return it brings to our business,” said Mr. Gindele. “Actually, we are seeing the positive outcome in terms of cost-savings and additional revenue which, in retrospect, fully justifies the project investment and the value case we anticipated for implementing PLM.”

Next Steps

For Liebherr-Components Biberach GmbH, the journey continues towards an expansion to BOM transformation between engineering and manufacturing. As of today, Liebherr-Components Biberach GmbH is orienting its BOM along downstream manufacturing processes, requiring engineering teams to develop along a functional view or product functions. With BOM transformation, all stakeholders in both engineering and manufacturing will be able to view the BOM through a lens that best fits their needs. BOM transformation will also enable Liebherr-Components Biberach GmbH to move towards Options & Variants and work with platform structures.

Windchill has also provided Liebherr-Components Biberach GmbH with the foundation to realize additional functionalities such as detailed analysis of change orders and traceability to the root cause of problems which are further aspects Liebherr-Components Biberach GmbH wants to make greater use of moving forward.