Innovation and collaborative, synchronized program management for new programs
BSH Bosch und Siemens Hausgeräte GmbH designs, manufactures and sells household appliances and internet appliances under the Bosch, Siemens and other brand names.
Consumer products giant, Bosch und Siemens Hausgeräte GmbH (BSH), is a global enterprise. The company operates 31 production sites and 43 factories in 15 countries across Europe, Asia, the United States and Latin America. BSH sells large and small household appliances, as well as an assortment of internet-compatible household appliances, under such well-known brand names as Bosch and Siemens. It also produces products for specialty brands such as Gaggenau, Thermador, Neff and Constructa in addition to various regional brands.
BSH management recognizes innovation as the key to competing successfully in the global market and defines its goal as making BSH the leading innovator in the consumer products industry. This culture of innovation is demonstrated by the more than 300 patents and trademarks the company applies for annually. These days, however, BSH’s concept of innovation includes more than creative styling and high-tech features. To improve both products and processes, BSH requires a collaborative effort by extended development teams, including designers, quality managers, purchasing and production managers, and sales and marketing personnel.
“We need to take the next steps, such as feeding back knowledge from downstream departments into R&D,” says Uwe Tontsch, head of product development and industrial engineering solutions at BSH. “Because BSH is a global company, these people are often located quite far from each other. To innovate at this new level requires a comprehensive, easy-to-use collaboration environment that spans the entire organization.”
The need to innovate at this level is matched by the realities of the global marketplace. These days, that means reducing product development costs to compete with companies with lower-priced labor. “We face major competition from Asia and Eastern Europe,” Tontsch explains. “It is not only necessary to be innovative because our competitors will follow us very quickly. We must reduce our expenses so that we can offer the quality that our customers expect at a lower price.”
BSH’s operations are geographically dispersed because the company has grown through acquisitions over the years. As far back as the 1990s, management realized the need for a global collaborative environment that would allow designers at different locations to benefit from each other’s work. After evaluating a number of leading systems, in 2000 BSH decided to standardize its worldwide development efforts on technology from Siemens Digital Industries Software, a business unit of Siemens Industry Automation Division. One of the reasons for this choice of PLM partner is the fact that Siemens Digital Industries Software is a proven global leader in the digital lifecycle management industry. “The leadership position of Siemens Digital Industries Software reduces the risk of this large investment,” says Tontsch.
BSH has implemented an end-to-end PLM system based on Siemens’ technologies – Teamcenter® digital lifecycle management software, NX™ digital product development software and Tecnomatix® digital manufacturing software. “The benefit to having an end-to-end PLM solution is that it allows us to integrate everyone in the company,” says Matthias Bronowski, BSH project manager, Teamcenter Next Generation. “It allows us to have a holistic view of what’s happening with our products.”
Another benefit of an end-to-end solution is that the integration between applications is done by the vendor, not by BSH. “A key factor for us was choosing a partner that offers a comprehensive and integrated solution,” says Tontsch. “Otherwise we would focus too much effort on integrating the products. That would be a distraction for our business.”
BSH’s product development strategy involves creating core components and technology that then can be adapted and reused. This drives both centralized and decentralized organizations, necessitating coordination between these globally distributed teams as well as common systems to support data sharing without the need for data translation. “Data translation between systems can kill the timeline and therefore the business,” notes Tontsch.
The Siemens Digital Industries Software solution consolidates all product and process knowledge in a single data vault, making it much easier to find and reuse. A single source of information allows product and process knowledge to cross organizational and geographic boundaries with the assurance of accuracy. “Having a single source of information has become very important to BSH because now there is no question as to what is right and what is wrong,” explains Bronowski. “There is only one answer and everyone knows where to find that answer.” And because BSH’s PLM solution is built on industry standards such as the JT™ data format and NX, Teamcenter and Tecnomatix software, information can be shared without the need for data translation between systems.
“Teamcenter supports the entire development process of our products, from the idea to the design, to engineering and manufacturing,” says Walter Vasselak, Group Manager, Application Data Management and Intellectual Property Systems, BSH. As a result, communication barriers that previously isolated people and had the potential to cause costly errors have been eliminated. “The instant collaboration made possible by Teamcenter allows internal and external resources to collaborate in a single virtual environment,” adds Tontsch. “It is also making it possible for us to develop a seamless cooperative production engineering environment that enables both R&D and manufacturing engineering to work in parallel. The instant collaboration that Teamcenter provides will support us in reaching a higher level of innovation.”
The choice of Siemens Digital Industries Software as BSH’s PLM partner is paying off in another important way – in reducing the total cost of PLM ownership. Realizing that building interfaces and custom coding add significantly to the cost of the PLM system, Siemens Digital Industries Software has evolved its PLM solution to minimize these efforts. “We could not survive if we had to continue to customize the PLM system as much as we had been doing in the past,” says Vasselak. “It’s too expensive. The new approach taken by Siemens Digital Industries Software allows us to configure the system to our needs instead of developing custom software. I expect to see a 25 to 35 percent reduction in PLM implementation and maintenance costs as a result.”
Another way Siemens Digital Industries Software technology reduces the total cost of PLM ownership is by offering a familiar user interface that simplifies learning and ease of use. “I believe we will be able to lower our total cost of ownership by reducing training costs,” says Bronowski. “This is particularly important in our growth regions such as Asia and North America where we are employing many new people. It’s critical to bring these people up to speed quickly and Siemens Digital Industries Software has made this job easier by offering a user interface that’s very much like Windows.”
Siemens Digital Industries Software product lifecycle management technology is the right choice for BSH’s next-generation PLM system, from both the end-user and the management perspective, concludes Bronowski. “With end users, it doesn’t matter how powerful a solution is. If they don’t like it, they won’t use it. Our end users are happy with software from Siemens Digital Industries Software because it is fast, easy to use and it helps them achieve the ultimate goal of creating innovative products. For management, which is extremely cost-driven, user acceptance and Siemens Digital Industries Software’s focus on lowering cost of ownership are exactly the things they want to see.”