Case Study

Luxury fashion manufacturer uses PLM to synchronize zipper and button development


With Teamcenter, Solid Edge models and other product data are immediately accessible to all corporate departments; Siemens PLM Software solutions protect intellectual property

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Riri SA (Riri), a Swiss company founded in 1936, is a leading producer of high-quality zippers used in clothing and apparel. Enrico Matteazzi, R&D (research and development) manager of the company’s zipper division, has no hesitation in calling Riri’s product “the Rolls Royce of zippers.” This statement is supported by the company’s customer portfolio, which includes world-famous fashion and luxury brands.

Riri expanded its product range in 2008 with the acquisition of Cobrax, a global leader in metal buttons. As a result, the company has become a group with 700 employees, three manufacturing sites (at its headquarters in Mendrisio, Switzerland; at the zipper division in Tirano, Italy and at the button division in Padua, Italy). It also operates an Italian subsidiary in Milan along with branch offices in Paris, Munich, New York, Shanghai and Hong Kong.

During the peak season, Riri produces 70 kilometers (approximately 44 miles) of finished zippers per day. With an annual turnover equal to 70 million euros, the company manufactures zippers for different types of products, from leather goods to clothing, and from shoes to shoulder gear. It also produces high tech products for special applications, including army tents and survival equipment.

Proliferating documentation

Riri’s technical department designs and develops its products, including leather goods, clothes, shoes and outerwear, as well as molds and tooling for plastic molding machines and Zamac casting equipment. All assembly, manufacturing and quality control operations are performed in-house. These are complemented by external partners for different needs. Customers are increasingly requiring their own equipment for checking or applying zippers to clothing, changing the nature of the supplier-customer relationship.

“Our product can be developed in two ways,” explains Matteazzi. “The first approach is internal brainstorming or input from sales and partners. We identify an interesting product and we move on with feasibility studies, budget definition, design and prototyping, production and distribution. Alternatively, we get a specific request from a customer asking to customize the zipper puller and/or body.”

The engineering process is a collaboration between the technical and industrial engineering departments, and involves a team of 12 people who are responsible for all design stages, test-related documents, verifications and approvals, and project revisions – essentially the entire product development cycle. This team is where the company first implemented Solid Edge® software from Siemens PLM Software.

“Today we have nine Solid Edge licenses,” says Matteazzi. “As we added CAD (computer-aided design) workstations, we were confronted with the proliferation of CAD documents, in addition to a huge volume of paper documents stored in our archives. We realized that having each designer manage his own documents was driving the system to collapse.”

The company identified two requirements: first, a way to search documents and correctly identify the latest version; and second, the ability to align each document with the corresponding zipper, mold and tooling. The latter included linking CAD documents to all non-CAD files related to the same project, including standards, requirements, datasheets and reports contained in different Word files and portable document format (PDF) files.

Riri also needed to manage its development process more efficiently. “In a company where roles, relationships and strategies change, it is essential to rely on systems that, through programmed workflows, automatically address the process with one click, independently of the memory, attention and good will of individual users,” Matteazzi recalls.

PDM – “Perfectly fit our requirements”

In the wake of its positive experience with Solid Edge, Riri turned to Novasystem, a Siemens PLM Software partner, to evaluate possible product data management (PDM) solutions. “When we were almost ready to choose, it was announced that Siemens PLM Software was about to launch a preconfigured version of Teamcenter, the product lifecycle management (PLM) solution for small and medium businesses, which perfectly fit our requirements,” Matteazzi says. “At that point, we had to decide between a package developed to our specific needs and requirements, or a solution directly supplied by Siemens: more standard but offering long-term stability. We went for the second option, starting a process that has led us to equip our CAD stations with Teamcenter licenses. The licenses have also been extended to other offices, from industrial engineering to quality, with future integration plans for sales and manufacturing as well.”

Teamcenter® software is preconfigured for rapid deployment and fast return on investment. The implementation of Teamcenter started with a macro analysis of the business organization to identify all intervention areas.

“The capabilities we needed from Teamcenter – data search and process management – work as we expected,” says Matteazzi. “It may seem banal, but we have realized the great value you get when you find and immediately recognize the correct information and its status. Besides this, another useful capability is bill of materials (BOM) management. We use fictitious items, which have not been drawn yet, so that we can handle samples and tests, keeping track of all item codes from the very start. Another benefit is assembly management based on Teamcenter rules, such as ‘last designed’ or ‘last released’ for the revision of each assembly. Finally, the creation of CAD documents as PDF files is maybe less impressive but very useful, as all documents can be viewed by all departments, avoiding manual PDF printouts. And of course, the PDF file is always consistent with the model’s latest version.”

Continuously improving competitive position

The Siemens PLM Software tools currently implemented in the engineering department will eventually be extended to other business areas, including sales, procurement, customer service, production planning and manufacturing. “The second step involves extending the access to data to other users, who will also add their documents to the system. The issues of security and privacy are very important for a company such as ours, which holds about 80 patents. Teamcenter offers all the necessary capabilities for user authentication, access restriction and role-based functionality.”

The expansion plan will also bring Siemens PLM Software technology to all group subsidiaries. At present, Teamcenter is up and running at the Tirano site, where people can access data for browsing and printing. “Once we have completed the integration with other offices, we will move out from the Mendrisio headquarters,” says Matteazzi. “We have already started the integration with the Milan branch for customer service, and we are evaluating the possibility of granting access to our agents in the territory, provided we can guarantee suitable browsing speeds and intellectual property protection.”

Since the introduction of Solid Edge, Riri has been collaborating with Novasystem, which provides user training and configuration support services to the company. “We worked side-by-side with Novasystem during the initial analysis, installation and commissioning,” Matteazzi notes. “Now we have resumed intensive collaboration for the second stage.”

“Helping an organization like Riri improve its competitiveness is a challenge,” says Graziano Bergonzi, technical sales manager in the PLM division of Novasystem. “We are proud that we have been able to help this customer respond to the demands of a more complicated market, and to create a solid database on which they are developing an extended platform on a global scale.”

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