Innovation and collaborative, synchronized program management for new programs
Xenon Architectural Lighting (XAL) develops, produces and distributes superior quality, innovative lamps and lighting systems, as well as light control systems using all the newest technology.
Light is much more than just the absence of darkness. The way we perceive things depends on the lighting in which we regard them. More and more frequently, this light is artificial and its sources are light emitting diodes (LEDs). Established in 1989, XAL was among the pioneers utilizing LED technology for room and building illumination while others were still waiting to see where the technology would go. Based in Graz, Austria, the company is dedicated to creating aesthetically and Electronics and semiconductor XAL LED lighting systems manufacturer facilitates growth by streamlining its global development process functionally outstanding lighting solutions for all kinds of indoor and outdoor applications in shops, offices, hotels and homes.
Of the 1,300 XAL employees, 95 work in research and development (R&D), where XAL invests around seven percent of its revenue. They develop innovative LED luminaires that are extraordinary in terms of energy efficiency, functionality and design. Many of these are component products that can be used to form customized solutions that meet the particular needs of lighting designers. With in-house R&D, production and testing facilities, XAL implements specially designed LED solutions in a very short time. The design and styling of XAL products have been recognized with several international design awards.
XAL lighting solutions are designed to interact harmoniously with the architecture, instead of drawing the focus of attention. The company’s design engineers have been using 3D computer-aided design (CAD) tools since 1998. In 2004, they converted to Solid Edge® software from product lifecycle management (PLM) specialist Siemens Digital Industries Software. Implementation assistance was provided by Siemens Digital Industries Software solution partner ACAM Systemautomation GmbH (ACAM).
Because the department was growing rapidly at the time, it was essential to XAL that employees joining the company could find information and become proficient with the software quickly, easily and efficiently. Solid Edge was selected for its outstanding CAD performance and its integrated product data management (PDM) system, the Insight™ design data management solution. Easy to use, the Insight solution also offered the option of importing data from XAL’s enterprise resource planning (ERP) and manufacturing execution system (MES) software.
“We are still using Solid Edge and have no plans to replace the software,” says Erik Stöcklmair, technology application manager at XAL. “Over the years, we have seen the software develop, benefiting from a great number of new features that were added over time.” The added features have enabled fast implementation of many variations to the puristic XAL designs.
XAL has experienced substantial growth since Solid Edge software was first introduced. While 70 engineers based at the company’s Graz headquarters take care of most of the development work, they also collaborate closely with 15 developers in China and 10 in the U.S. “Although Insight was fully sufficient on the local level, the need for global collaboration prompted a migration to a more comprehensive PLM solution,” says Volker Taus, senior project manager, organizational development at XAL. “Our goal was to introduce a system that would enable us to easily add new locations while offering close integration with our central ERP/MES system.”
Supported by external PLM consultants, XAL investigated practically every major PLM software product on the market. In addition to powerful yet easy-to-use functions, the criteria for the system included a supplier with a leading market position and a long-term commitment to supporting and further developing the software. “We were also looking for a supplier with the ability to transfer a gigantic amount of data from the existing system,“ says Stöcklmair. This led to XAL’s decision to select Teamcenter® software from Siemens Digital Industries Software. “The solution was implemented by regional Siemens Digital Industries Software solution partner ACAM, which has provided us with excellent services ever since we converted to Solid Edge,” Stöcklmair adds.
XAL and ACAM performed a joint project to introduce Teamcenter, initially integrating two development locations in Austria and the U.S. From the start, it included bi-directional data exchange with the company’s ERP and MES software using the Teamcenter Gateway for Enterprise Applications, a powerful solution for providing enterprise application integration with Teamcenter. It enables companies to synchronize complete part lists and all product-related documents with the ERP/ MES systems.
“The main challenge for us was migrating the enormous amount of data generated over many years,“ says Johann Mathais, managing director of ACAM. “In order to reduce data inconsistencies when projects are edited in the legacy system after the transfer, we were required to migrate all the data in one attempt, rather than project by project.” Using the standard software tools available at the time, the migration would have taken about 600 hours, so the task required some ingenuity. Siemens and ACAM developed a strategy involving a project freeze in Insight on a Wednesday evening with migration to be completed the following Sunday. The date was selected because in that week, the Friday happened to be a public holiday.
Work using the legacy system continued until the last minute. “Prior to the actual switch, ACAM and Siemens had provided a test installation with five Teamcenter licenses so our design engineers were able to develop use cases that formed the basis for the data migration routines that ACAM programmed,“ says Stöcklmair. “It also gave us the opportunity for extensive user training, so we had a quick restart.”
“Starting up after the conversion to Teamcenter was as smooth as we had hoped,” says Taus. “Since then, our development engineers have been benefiting from intuitive operation and easy learning. Using Teamcenter has made it easier to integrate new employees in our various locations into the development process in a fast yet sustainable and traceable manner. Using Teamcenter, opening a new location is no big affair from a data technology point of view.”
Since the implementation of Teamcenter as its global PLM software, the company has acquired a Belgian lamp manufacturer with a design office in China. “Although the Chinese colleagues were reluctant at first to change from the legacy software system they had used previously, they made the transition in a very short time and are now autonomously implementing very complex workflows,” Stöcklmair recalls. “This is even more remarkable considering that we Austrians had a hard time interpreting messages on Teamcenter’s Chinese graphical user interface.”
Using Teamcenter for CAD data management and bill of material (BOM) handling has also eliminated some of the less productive routine work from the task of creating new luminaires. This includes creating many thousands of documents in neutral file formats required each year by downstream processes. “Using the Teamcenter dispatcher has greatly reduced the time required for that task,” says Taus. “Our engineers now create as many documents as before in one fourth of the time − a 75 percent reduction.”
“The software is intuitive and includes the use case library created prior to migration, so it requires only minimal training,” Stöcklmair adds. “With Teamcenter’s powerful built-in workflow engine, searching for the right information or using incorrect documents has become a thing of the past. Engineers can concentrate on design and engineering work. The effort for red-tape tasks we save each year amounts to four man-years.”
XAL is continuing to grow. Consequently, the company has recently replaced its existing ERP and MES systems with more capable solutions. “Following our experiences from the Teamcenter introduction, including the tight integration with the business software systems, we found it easy enough to adapt the PLM software,” says Taus. “The same Siemens specialists that had implemented the interface then updated it to meet the new requirements.”