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Success Story Haas Group: Tools to Master Complexity

Haas uses simus classmate for lean and extensive master data of their food production systems.

Consolidation of ERP systems, integration of sites worldwide and integration into new business structures – almost any mechanical engineer with international agency knows these challenges. The Haas Group mastered all of them and applied a powerful tool for the improvement of material master data.

thermo wafer baking oven SWAKT-HC

The industrial thermo wafer baking oven SWAKT-HC produces large-sized wafer sheets

There is nothing permanent except change. This is evident from the history of the Haas family business founded more than 100 years ago starting out as a locksmith in Vienna. Franz Haas introduced the first wafer machine in 1948. Since 1975, the company evolved into the world’s leading manufacturer of production plants of wafers, hard and soft dough biscuits, ice cream cones, cakes, and baked products in the food industry on the Leobendorf site in Austria. Counting their subsidiaries and own production sites in Brazil, the USA, and China, Haas employs 1650 members of staff worldwide – approximately 600 of which in Leobendorf – and generates a turnover of approximately EUR300 million. Since 2018, Haas is part of the Swiss Bühler Group – a family business operating in 140 countries. “Bühler deals in food processing technologies and often caters to the same customers but there is no overlap in products and services – but in some areas we complement one another,” says Peter Buczolits, Head of Product Management and Process Engineering at Haas.

Mastering Complexity

In order to keep up with change and better manage continuous growth, including acquisition, Haas works with the Complexity Management Academy on the campus of RWTH Aachen, Germany, who studies Complexity Management in Prof. Dr. Günther Schuh’s area and the local Laboratory for Machine Tools and Production Engineering (WZL). “In the search of a product which can support us in this matter, we became aware of the simus classmate software suite,” Peter Buczolits reports. “The driving force of a classification of our material master data which was supposed to be assigned to material groups in SAP was Procurement. Furthermore, the consolidation of various ERP systems was pending.” After three pilot projects with well-known providers, a decision was made in favor of using simus classmate in 2015. The software suite contains useful tools for structuring, classification, maintenance, and efficient use of industrial mass data.

Successful Ground Work

The collaboration on a first project step began in 2016: Initially, 350,000 purchase part datasets out of 800,000 item master data records from then four independent business areas for wafer systems, mixing systems, and convenience products were supposed to be cleaned. “By our definition, purchase parts are all parts we are not designing ourselves. The data was produced in structures grown over several years without consistent rules,” Peter Buczolits reports.

“We wanted to facilitate the search for spare parts for our international service centers and provide a better overview of the global demand of purchased parts for Procurement by data cleansing.”

In the first step, the active material master data were read from the SAP system in Leobendorf and merged with those from two different systems in Denmark into one database. The simus classmate software suite which offers various automated routines, filtered outdated article masters and generated an initial classification and character toolbar which could be refined in sessions with the client. In the process, a consistent structure of material masters with all features was created which allows for quick identification and assignment. Subsequently, the classification data was reimported into SAP and synchronized with the SAP classification.

Search Engine Across the Company

Selected end users in the company can now access data via the web-based search engine classmate easyFINDER. It provides a geometric search search for models, features or partial matching as well as search queries for text, key words, single values or value ranges. Users can also find the required part by navigating along the class tree. These search options can be combined in any way. In the future, buyers should retrieve the wanted part immediately by a part identifier and recognize which supplier to obtain it from by a code. At the approximately 65 design work stations, easyFINDER integrates into the user interface of PTC/Creo so that designers can search for articles and parts without a change of programs. “An important target is to not create new parts but to repeat the use of the existent ones,” Peter Buczolits explains.

Digitalization of Processes

To get closer to achieving this goal, a multilevel material request was defined which was implemented by simus classmate. New material masters will no longer be created in SAP directly but controlled via a request process with classmate easyFINDER. In-house material master teams examine the material requests from Development and compare them to the available range of parts to suggest existing alternatives. In addition, automatic processes and notifications were established. If no suitable solution can be found, the material is created in a structure in SAP by simus classmate. “So far, this assessment is limited to purchase parts,” the product manager says.

“Every reused part results in cost advantages for us.”

In the machine element sector, this produces other synergies:

“With these capabilities, we can ensure that our series and product lines are build from standardized components,”

Buczolits explains.

Maintained Data Opens Up New Possibilities

The new process of creating the material master is an example for the way complex processes with numerous media discontinuities can be digitized with simus classmate. This also applies to the option to generate texts automatically from classification features. Material descriptions in short and long text or purchase order texts can be generated automatically for Procurement. If features are translated for the required foreign languages, even the translation of required texts can be automated. “simus classmate gives me the building blocks to define such processes myself independently from the provider,” Florian Kreiner, Department Head of Technical Planning & Controlling/Standardisation at Haas explains. On a spare part portal, CAD data is used to determine the required packaging size for shipping.

“The tool is really excellent, we are nowhere near its full potential yet.”

Equipped for the Future

In the acquisition of the Bühler Group, the Haas Group is gradually integrated into the corporate network which is almost ten times bigger in size. In order to be ready, the data is currently being prepared again under extreme pressure. Our young team, consisting of three people, deals with the standardization: “We have allocated priorities to 450 classes of purchased parts – we have worked through about a third up to date,” Florian Kreiner reports. Two employees received very effective administrator training at simus and came back thrilled.

“We can make use of many subjects from it and keep finding new scopes of application we can cover with simus classmate,”

Florian Kreiner concludes.

Haas Group » 

Photo credits: Haas Group, Leobendorf