Speeding new product development when the clock is ticking
Teamcenter is a watchmaker’s key to taking advantage of a booming market
Wristwatches from IWC Schaffhausen do more than tell the time. These handcrafted and technically sophisticated luxury timepieces are a man’s best jewelry piece and can become sought-after collector’s items. The company’s most famous product lines are the “Da Vinci” family, the Pilot’s Watches, the Portuguese Watches or the Aquatimer diver’s watches as well as exquisite pocket watches. Founded in 1868, IWC Schaffhausen was purchased by Richemont S.A. in 2000. IWC Schaffhausen currently holds its largest market shares in the Far East, Italy, Switzerland and Germany. The company has over 600 employees, approximately 1,100 points of sale and currently 11 boutiques worldwide.
The market for luxury watches is booming. But like other Swiss manufacturers, IWC Schaffhausen faced a number of lean years starting in the 1970s when cheap electronic watches hit the market. “Watches with mechanical movements, which are what we make, became almost obsolete because they were seen as less accurate and not state-of-the-art anymore,” explains Beda Weibel, project manager for watch movements at IWC. That changed in the late 1980s with the revival of the mechanical watch as a luxury product and a status symbol. High-end watches are now in such demand that the market growth in this niche has been holding steady at 10 to 15 percent a year.
IWC’s challenge since the market rebounded has been to increase the pace of new product development to meet the demand, while delivering only the highest quality products, as is the company’s tradition.
The vision of integrated PLM
Since 1998, IWC Schaffhausen has been using Solid Edge® software, a computer-aided design (CAD) solution from Siemens PLM Software, to design its watches. In 2001, the company added product data management (PDM) functionality, which was never widely adopted because it served primarily as a repository of CAD data. Realizing the value of this data, particularly how it could be leveraged across more of the watch development process, in 2005 the company launched an internal program called Kristall (English: crystal). “The vision of Kristall is to have an integrated product lifecycle management (PLM) system across the entire company, including departments such as design, product management, marketing, development, quality and the supply chain,” says Weibel.
In choosing the PLM system, the most important requirement was tight integration between the PDM/PLM software and the company’s CAD program. Teamcenter® software, preconfigured for rapid deployment and fast return on investment, provided this important functionality. “There is deep integration between Solid Edge and Teamcenter,” explains Weibel. “The interface to Teamcenter is embedded in Solid Edge so that we no longer have CAD and data management as separate tools. They are a single entity.” BCT Technology AG (Willstätt, Germany), a Siemens PLM solution partner, implemented Teamcenter at IWC. “They are not only very knowledgeable about PLM,” says Weibel. “They are professional and respond quickly to our needs. It is very comfortable working with BCT Technology.” IWC management fully supports the Kristall program, and to ensure success, the company formed an advisory committee consisting of its own management as well as representatives from Intelliact AG (Zurich, Switzerland) management consulting firm, Siemens PLM Software and BCT Technology. This was one of the key issues for successful implementation of a PLM philosophy in the company.
Accurate, easy-to-access product data
IWC Schaffhausen has rolled out Teamcenter in the design department where it manages product data and the product structure as well as certain workflows, such as the drawing release process. It has also been integrated with the company’s enterprise resource planning system, B2.
Even though the software has yet to be rolled out to the entire organization, it has begun to fulfill the vision of having everyone work from a single, shared source of product data and follow consistent work processes. “Data quality with our old system was not very good,” explains Weibel. “A huge benefit of the new approach is the guarantee that the information in our system is logically correct. Once Teamcenter is fully implemented, it is going to allow us to have correct information throughout the supply chain and the product lifecycle.” Another benefit is the 3D-viewer of Teamcenter lets those without CAD software view and markup 3D digital models.
With Teamcenter, it is now much easier to find existing product data. “A complex search happens very quickly, so people really use this functionality,” Weibel adds. “This means they are less likely to recreate existing information.” Another important benefit of Teamcenter comes from how it allows IWC to leverage existing watch design expertise in the development of new products. For example, previously defined values are linked to items in the product structure so that many of the decisions designers must make are already made for them. This kind of knowledge database helps the company ensure quality as it adds to its design staff during this time of growth.
For IWC Schaffhausen, Teamcenter is providing the technology the company needs to work faster without sacrificing its heritage of quality. Weibel summarizes, “To be a modern and profitable company on the edge of development for the next five to 10 years, you need state-of-the-art tools such as Teamcenter.”