NX and Teamcenter deliver integrated product development environment
Nexion Group establishes centralized PLM platform on Siemens’ technology; time-to-market, cost and quality advantages realized
Specializing in equipment for car shops and tire centers
Nexion Gruppo Industriale (Nexion Group) manufactures equipment for car shops and tire centers, with an organization comprising eight brands and production sites under Nexion Financial Holding. Brands include Corghi, Simpesfaip, Mondolfo Ferro, Hpa, Orlandini, Sice, Tecnomotor, and Teco. Through a number of acquisitions, Nexion Group has grown into a heterogeneous structure, represented by distinct companies that have taken independent technical paths over the years. Each company within Nexion Group has acquired different computer-aided design (CAD) and product data management (PDM) technologies. As a result, management launched a project to synchronize its product design and manufacturing systems in order to improve communication and collaboration among the companies.
The project involved engaging a full product lifecycle management (PLM) approach across organizations. Nexion Group companies have been using Siemens PLM Software’s comprehensive product development solution, NX™ software, since 1998. Recently, after an in-depth software selection and benchmarking process and although one of the organizations had already implemented another solution, Nexion Group selected Teamcenter® software, the world’s most widely used PLM solution. “For a company like Nexion Group, the Siemens PLM Software solution offers all the basic and advanced features and functionality we need to improve development and design times and to optimize costs,” notes Nexion Group’s chief information officer (CIO). “We also think that Siemens PLM Software provides a growth path offering excellent warranties in terms of investment protection and duration. It’s a long-term project with a reliable partner.”
Excellence in processes and quality
Four Nexion Group companies are involved in the first project phase, representing five sites located in Reggio Emilia (three sites), Lucca and Pesaro-Urbino, and a total number of 35 users. The decision to adopt Teamcenter as its PLM platform for product development was combined with another agreement with Siemens PLM Software, i.e., to upgrade all Siemens’ solutions to the latest versions available and to adopt Teamcenter classification functionality.
The CIO explains, “Compared to the previous infrastructure, with two separate sites in Correggio and Mondolfo, we have set up a four-tier architecture that offers remarkable benefits. We have an efficient and cost-saving infrastructure, as well as co-engineering, re-use and standardization capabilities. Now we are working with one single server based in Correggio and accessible to Corghi and Mondolfo Ferro.” The company is currently adding Sice Automotive Equipment (also located in Correggio), which is migrating to NX and leveraging the advantages offered by synchronous technology. The decision to migrate entirely to NX as a group-wide CAD solution was based on an intense benchmark with a competitive product. The CIO points out, “We have created an inter-company working team consisting of two skilled designers working side-by-side. Note that the benchmark was done with an old version of NX, but in spite of this, the Siemens PLM Software suite got the better of the rival. The next challenge is to recover the entire data heritage of the company, for which we expect great benefits from synchronous technology.”
After activating 35 users in the first phase, Nexion Group is now planning to extend the PLM solution to all corporate users, also incorporating its Chinese and German branches according to available bandwidth. “The technical department consists of about 70 people distributed in different sites,” notes the CIO. “Previously, we needed distributed servers in each site, while the new project has allowed us to centralize the database on a single server, achieving two significant benefits. On one hand, we achieved a clear benefit for ICT (information and communication technology) in terms of reduced maintenance and simplified updates. On the other, we established an optimized technical development process. The closer synergy among developers, who can now work as if they were actually inside the same office (although they are located in different regions and using different products), enables us to meet the specific needs of each brand. With this solution, we have achieved high flexibility in operations and resource allocation.”
Reduce and re-use
In preparation for this project, Nexion Group’s ICT managers increased available bandwidth. Moreover, the solution proposed by Siemens PLM Software has proved to be very efficient. The CIO describes the setup: “The new architecture is articulated in four levels, with a local cache machine in each site. The core element is an Oracle database, which is referenced by the volumes distributed on the cache servers.”
Nexion Group’s project consisted of two strategic goals: increase organizational efficiency and fully integrate the group’s culture across companies. ICT managers were looking for a more flexible and less expensive architecture, as well as one that was effective in improving time-to-market and reducing design costs. “We are leaders in a niche market, where Asian competitors are regularly coming up with low-end products,” says the CIO. “For this reason, it is important to get new products to the market quickly, as well as to reduce production costs, which are typically high in a company that strives for excellence. Already, with the Siemens’ solution, we have taken a big step forward. In the second stage of the project, we will also introduce product classification, an essential tool to re-use our design intellectual property and the know-how we have accumulated over the years.”
The CIO points out, “Besides classification, we plan to revise the entire engineering change management process. We currently use a workflow process based on Excel. We plan to replace it with a new, structured workflow process to monitor engineering changes and product development step-by-step, considering workflow time for each phase and area. In this way, we can optimize the quality and quantity of our production operations, with retroactive feedback for procedure and process improvement. From the acquisition of basic requirements to the launch of pre-series production, we will reorganize the entire flow with Teamcenter.”
Continuous business process improvement
Among the reasons that Nexion Group decided to adopt Siemens PLM Software technology, the integration of NX and Teamcenter with Microsoft Corporation’s software was a key factor. The group is strongly based in Microsoft applications, both for individual information technology tools and at the enterprise resource planning (ERP) level, where the organization has adopted Microsoft Dynamics® AX. “The CAD-ERP integration is one of the key strengths of the solution we have implemented,” says the CIO. “We will pursue tighter and tighter integration between CAD and PDM on one side and ERP on the other, managing bills of materials within one environment.”
The new structure, built by Nexion Group on Teamcenter, lays the foundation for continuous business process improvement, especially relative to product development efficiency and organizational effectiveness. The CIO notes that the group companies are much more culturally integrated, which is now helping to drive collaboration and best-practice sharing. Excellent results in terms of competitiveness have already been achieved.
Nexion Group also sees significant advantages forthcoming. These include full visibility and sharing of product information throughout the organization and across geographic boundaries; improved overall data quality (through the integrated management of different data types generated by various applications); protection of the logical and physical integrity of information; and improvement of collaboration and communications among all business functions.