Innovation and collaborative, synchronized program management for new programs
Groupe SEB develops and manufactures small domestic equipment and markets its products in more than 150 countries. Major brands include Tefal, Rowenta, Moulinex, Krups, All-Clad, and Lagostina.
With a market presence in 150 countries, Groupe SEB is a leading manufacturer of small domestic equipment. In fact, every second, six products from Groupe SEB are sold somewhere in the world.
Originally, the Seb brand earned its reputation thanks to its famous “pressure cooker,” which has been whistling in the world’s kitchens for almost 60 years. Today, the company is a multinational enterprise, employing 23,000 people. Its history has been marked by external growth, with the acquisition of approximately 20 brands, including Rowenta, Tefal, Moulinex, Krups, Lagostina, and AllClad. In addition, a major corporate initiative has led to worldwide leadership in the field of small household appliances through three product lines: cookware, kitchen electrics, and home and personal care.
Of course, all of this was not achieved in a single day. The company adhered to a clear but demanding strategy of continuous innovation to become a worldwide leader and sustain that position amid extremely competitive and constantly changing markets. Groupe SEB’s strategy is exemplified by compelling metrics. Every year the company introduces 200 new products, while filing hundreds of patents. Among recent investments, the company funded 700 employees in its research and development (R&D) departments, with a budget of €64 million.
An important factor in Groupe SEB’s growth has been its ability to absorb different acquisitions, while retaining their innovation potential. Each of the Groupe SEB’s brands had its own special identity when first acquired, as well as its own development processes, a local product data management solution (often restricted to the technical side of the business) and a culture that was naturally shared across its workforce.
With this in mind, in 2003, Groupe SEB redirected its business model. It shifted from a brand-oriented strategy to a product line-based strategy. To achieve this, it had to move towards a cross-discipline organizational structure that would unite its different design and production units. It also had to adopt virtual development platforms to enable engineers – who were often long distances apart – to collaborate on the same project.
The goal was to enable its project teams to work on different brands in a knowledgedriven manner. Once implemented, this approach – which Groupe SEB intended to realize through product lifecycle management (PLM) technology – would enable the company to conserve the consistency of content development on a product line basis. Importantly, it would also allow the company to retain the differentiation that distinguishes each brand and ensures its attraction to its target market. In addition, the approach would facilitate economies of scale, enabling the company to pool its R&D activities. At the same time, it was necessary to audit, assess, optimize, and then harmonize multiple business and product development processes across the different worldwide sites. Finally, the PLM approach was adopted to facilitate a co-design process, where product components with a low-added or non-strategic value were actively sourced to various outside vendors.
The overall restructuring initiative required a unifying PLM solution. This represented a real challenge, given that when it was proposed, the concept was only in the outline stages. The success of the pilot project, implemented at Groupe SEB’s site in Lyon, France, validated the concept. Siemens Digital Industries Software’s Teamcenter® software was used to demonstrate the capabilities of PLM and was subsequently adopted to support the group’s overall innovation ecosystem. From that point on, Groupe SEB’s innovation strategy would be deployed using Teamcenter as the unifying PLM tool.
Today, Groupe SEB has 100 CAD stations using NX™ software, 60 CAD stations using Solid Edge® software, both from Siemens Digital Industries Software, and a centralized Teamcenter database in France that manages the overall PLM environment. In this setup, Teamcenter functions as a collaborative geometric dimensioning and tolerancing (GD&T) tool that manages all CAD files from NX and Solid Edge, as well as Pro/Engineer® software used by some of the group. Teamcenter also manages all of the technical data and other documents linked to product development.
The positive impact of implementing a total product lifecycle management environment using Siemens Digital Industries Software technology is significant.
Reliable and seamless data exchange enables users to fully leverage the organization’s knowledge base. The same product and process information is now updated and accessible by every stakeholder across PLM-based user communities. These stakeholders can now trace developments and decisions, and provide assistance in structuring project-related CAD data. These advantages have directly contributed to gains in information quality and have facilitated a common understanding among each project’s cross-disciplined participants. Immediate and secure data access saves time. The enterprise nature of the company’s PLM environment fosters independent data access for all participants based on their business focus. Time is no longer wasted transmitting, requesting or locating information and less paper is consumed. In addition, the modus operandi of Siemens technology increases data security.
Standardized policies and corporate regulations help to ensure a cohesive operation, high-quality products and consistent brands. The PLM environment bolsters work and validation processes by enabling the company to establish and enforce workflow rules and standardize processrelated deliverables. This not only makes working across disciplines easier and promotes greater understanding between process participants, but also advances strict adherence to quality and brand continuity.
Improved business processes greatly enhance the speed with which important decisions can be made. Decision-making and its related data can be initiated through workflow-driven processes and validated immediately. PLM automates natural follow-ups for requests and other process-driven inquires. In the final analysis, PLM facilitates higher-quality information and faster decisions.
Knowledge re-use enables capitalization and innovation. By supporting standardization and other formalized processes, enterprise PLM has enabled Groupe SEB to capitalize on the know-how of different products and re-use this knowledge for other projects and programs. Ultimately, the cross-pollination of resources made possible by PLM results in product innovation. And process innovation as well, because PLM enables the company to trace product development and leverage the results to improve given processes and extend their value.
Gomas emphasizes, “Using Siemens Digital Industries Software technology, we’ve increased new product introductions by 43 percent annually, from 140 to 200.”
The company intends to ensure the transfer of data, business processes and database to the latest version of Teamcenter. “At that time, we are going to integrate new functionalities that are linked to project management, including our schedules, milestones and regulatory documents,” says Gomas. “Then, we will cover all of our businesses and all of their sites.”