Innovation and collaborative, synchronized program management for new programs
Vaillant Group is a global market and technology leader in the fields of heating, ventilation and air-conditioning technology. Today, the family-owned company has 9 production sites in six European countries and China.
Vaillant Group has been shaping the future of heating technology for 147 years. It focusses on heating, air-conditioning, ventilation, renewables and hot water with a mission to develop a clear vision for the future of sustainable and responsible system solutions. In 2015, Vaillant was presented with the German Sustainability Award for being the country’s most sustainable large company.
The heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) company distinguishes itself by sustainably delivering best-in-class products while maintaining its family-owned culture. The HVAC industry makes up around 40 percent of all carbon emissions. Therefore, it is essential to develop and deliver products that support a carbon footprint neutral environment. Vaillant’s company philosophy is that it is responsible for the climate of a household and the environment.
Vaillant started its Lifecycle Management Process with Polarion™ software in 2015 with a focus on software development. In 2018, Polarion software was decided on to be a leading system for the complete product development process with integration into the PLM system. Polarion is a part of the Xcelerator portfolio, the comprehensive and integrated portfolio of software and services from Siemens Digital Industries Software.
While working on the topic of requirements engineering and management, Vaillant founded a new organization that moved from research and development (R&D) to project management office (PMO). Here, they put all product lifecycle related topics into one area. Aside from the PLM application scope, it also has all product lifecycle processes such as portfolio management, project management, etc. This organization supports all industrial business areas with the processes, methods and tools on product development, change and discontinuation.
The PLM business application division works in a development and operations (DevOps) style, managing continuous product improvements and user support topics. This division was experiencing difficulties regarding the ways the product development team was working together, due to data silos and disconnected processes and teams. Between the main stakeholders on the customer and markets side and those working in the product development area, the teams were using different toolsets. This disconnected tool-chain was making it difficult to specify and manage changing requirements during the development process.
Vaillant’s goal was to incorporate one company-wide toolset that would provide all stakeholders with access to the same information source. It would also enable the team to define consistent engineering requirements.
Vaillant began using Siemens’ Polarion ALM™ software in its complete product development process starting with systems engineering to the development activities along the entire cycle. Vaillant conducted a series of workshops with Siemens to find a proper setup for its team in terms of how it should build the entire landscape. Vaillant decided to use the application lifecycle management (ALM) software due to its feasibility and abundance of available features. It enabled the team to easily move step by step.
“Since Polarion ALM is a web-based application, it was easy to use and enabled our team to begin efficiently,” explains Christian Willmann, head of business application PLM at Vaillant. In integrating Polarion ALM with their existing PLM System, Vaillant worked with Siemens’ solution partner, EB solutions. They also had Siemens development support for customization, including creating an interface for its test factory management system.
As Vaillant moves forward, it is looking to incorporate digitalization into its processes such has having digital apps that enable smart phones to control heating inside homes. “Many digital services are on the rise in the HVAC industry. The mechanical side is becoming less important while the significance of software and service ticket abilities is growing,” explains Willmann. Polarion ALM will be a key player in in this initiative. For example, in the case of a heating issue that presents a visible error code, the end customer and service technician may access this on an app. Then, the ability to define the potential error will be executed in Polarion ALM. Going forward, Vaillant is moving quick with additional growth areas in efficient gas technologies and electric heat pumps.
Since integrating Polarion ALM, all projects are set up according to everyone’s needs. “In terms of Polarion’s functionality and capabilities, there was no question. This presented a significant advantage,” states Willmann. Vaillant has also been able to nominate key users to be the first level contact to make sure the software is used in the correct way. This has enabled the team to collaborate more efficiently and rapidly produce requirements in a higher quality.
“Everyone must use the same tool and methodology. Polarion ALM enables us to achieve a baseline that we did not have before,” continues Willmann. The team easily gains user feedback, which enables them to define required actions based on priority.