IHC Merwede designs and constructs dredging and mining vessels and equipment, and provides innovative ships and supplies for offshore construction. The company has expertise in engineering and manufacturing standard and custom-built vessels, and also provides lifecycle support. The company’s customers include dredging operators, oil and gas corporations, offshore contractors and government authorities.
IHC Merwede focuses on developing specialized design and building activities for the marine sector. It is a global market leader in developing efficient ships and equipment for dredging and wet mining. The company is widely known for custom shipbuilding and providing materials for the offshore market. Its clients include dredging companies, oil and gas firms, offshore contractors and governments. IHC Merwede has more than 3,000 employees who work in highly autonomous product and market-related units.
Nine units were using Teamcenter Express software from product lifecycle management (PLM) specialist Siemens Digital Industries Software. The units were primarily using the software to manage engineering data.
“IHC Merwede may be a large company, but implementation of the software at the level of individual units was fairly modest,” says Daan Barendse, who is an application manager of the computer-aided design (CAD)/product data management (PDM) group at IHC Merwede BV. “Autonomy in work methods had resulted in the use of different versions of Teamcenter Express. Across the company, people were running a number of versions, which made providing support difficult.”
For this reason, IHC Merwede started up a project to unify all systems on the current version of Teamcenter. The first to migrate was IHC Hytop, which focuses on hydraulic systems. An important starting point was the fact that installations would remain local and the data model wouldn’t change. “Based on the IHC Hytop migration, we developed a blueprint for an action plan together with Siemens Digital Industries Software services,” says Barendse. “Siemens Digital Industries Software executed each project on the basis of this uniform action plan. The service desk staff at IHC Merwede supported Siemens Digital Industries Software in this task, and took care of the installation of the Teamcenter server and local clients.”
The first step of the action plan was to carry out a test migration. For this purpose, the company’s database was forwarded to Siemens Digital Industries Software, which carried out the conversion on virtual servers. This was done step-by-step, upgrading the system to each intermediate version until the current version had been reached. Any possible issues that came to light during this process allowed Siemens Digital Industries Software to prepare for the actual migration. After this, the converted database was returned to IHC Merwede and uploaded to a test server. During extensive update tests, checks were made to see whether the new system worked as planned. Various units make use of universal plot manager (UPM), which was installed in cooperation with an experienced Siemens Digital Industries Software consultant. The UPM installation needed to be identical for all versions and had to take care of all output, from DXF and STEP formats to prints, plots and PDF files.
After it was clear that the converted data worked properly in the new system, the definitive migration could be planned. This normally takes place on a weekend. On Thursday, the database was sent to Siemens Digital Industries Software after working hours.
“The next day, staff attended presentations about the changes and new functionality in Teamcenter and Solid Edge, as the final database conversion was taking place at Siemens Digital Industries Software,” says Richard Jungschläger, IHC Merwede’s PDM application manager responsible for Teamcenter upgrades. Jungschläger took care of the hands-on Teamcenter server and client installation with colleague Jan Zandvliet and several service desk employees.
“Thanks to excellent cooperation and preparation involving both parties, the conversion could be carried out within a day,” says Jungschläger. “After all, for each potential problem, the answer was already known.”
On Saturday, the database was imported onto the new server at IHC Merwede. Several users were present to carry out critical testing, according to the existing protocol. After the go-ahead was given, the Teamcenter client and the most recent version of Solid Edge® software (also from Siemens Digital Industries Software) were installed on the workstations.
“The current version of Solid Edge was installed wherever possible,” says Jan Zandvliet, who is a CAD/PDM application manager and responsible for Solid Edge support.
Zandvliet notes, “The result of all this preparation was that business could be fully resumed immediately after the weekend. The IHC Merwede Group Information Technology (IT)–Application Management and Siemens Digital Industries Software provided onsite support that resolved any difficulties that had not been picked up previously.”
The aim of implementing one uniform Teamcenter version was to make support easier.
“There are so many Teamcenter and Solid Edge users in our company that we had to centralize support, and we were reaching the limits of our capabilities,” says Barendse. “In parallel with this Teamcenter upgrade project, we have also reorganized our support. We now have a central group, IHC Group IT–Application Management Engineering, which supports all companies and ensures all units can make the best possible use of CAD and PDM.”
To guarantee flexible availability, a large account engineers (LAE) contract was established with Siemens Digital Industries Software. This agreement states that consultants from Siemens Digital Industries Software and reseller CAAP from Amersfoort, Netherlands will join the support team for several hours every week.
“Extra support capacity from Siemens Digital Industries Software and CAAP allows us to move with client demand,” says Barendse. “We can expand Siemens Digital Industries Software’s capacity, if required, until we feel the time has arrived to take on a new full-time support employee. The LAE agreement allows us to link our internal help desk system to that of Siemens Digital Industries Software and CAAP. This provides us with a great deal of additional information regarding our outstanding questions.”
Barendse concludes, “This new situation is a huge improvement compared to how we previously worked. Siemens Digital Industries Software is a great partner for project assistance and daily support.”