As one of the three leading application specialists in conveying and compression of gases, Aerzener Maschinenfabrik GmbH (AERZEN for short) produces high-performance blowers and screw compressors for industrial application. In order to increase efficiency and keep its promise for quality even more extensively, the company has been working on improving master data quality for about ten years. Using software and services by simus systems, a classification was build and a systematic master data creation process was created in integration with SAP.
Since 1864, high performance machines have been created in Aerzen, Germany, near Hameln for industrial purposes. Through consistent focus on reliable, energy-efficient and high-performing blowers and screw compressors, early internationalization and high product quality, the family business was able to develop into a global player employing 2,500 members of staff and maintaining more than 50 subsidiaries worldwide. The blowers, compressors, rotary lobe compressors and turbo blowers are developed as standard assemblies and customized solutions in the main factory in Aerzen by approximately 1,150 members of staff and exported at a rate of 85 percent.
Master Data Project Before Migration
In 2012, when the decision was made to change from an AS400 solution to an ERP system by SAP, the master data was supposed to be read, cleaned, and classified in order to ensure smooth migration. Their partner simus systems and their software suite simus classmate was quickly involved. The first project was already initiated in the fourth quarter of 2012: A structure for the data was developed in workshops and built in simus classmate. Four members of AERZEN staff developed features, rules, and a basis for valuations in cooperation with simus systems. Common international and national norms were taken into consideration as well as the characteristics of their own products. Finally, the rules and their powerful functions were applied to the master data which was transferred to the new SAP system by simus systems.
New Search Engine
“In our legacy system, we did not have a search function,” Wilfried Rupnow, Master Data Manager and Administrator at AERZEN, recalls. “For the technical department, it was easier and quicker to create new parts. This should now change.” The introduction of classmate FINDER was scheduled, a search engine which finds the wanted information via interfaces from almost all leading CAD, PDM and ERP systems. Combined search options and a simple user interface allow for various combined search queries: The range covers the navigation in the graphic representation of the class tree, the search for specific features and the defined similarity search based on geometry, comparative data, or subsections. The results are shown in clearly presented lists with 2D and 3D preview images. As intended, 40 users from the technical department have already benefited from these functions since the summer of 2013. But due to the high level of usability, more and more departments declared their interest in classmate FINDER: “Today, we use 211 licenses at the Aerzen site,” Wilfried Rupnow rejoices. “The main users are distributed in Purchasing and Quality Assurance, Sales and After Sales Support.” The original goal of creating less new materials with the use of the search function was achieved:
“Despite the growth, we are creating 20 percent less new materials per year compared to five years ago.”
Automatic Text Generation
Meanwhile, quality and information content has increased significantly. “Previously, users entered different amounts of data in various formats,” Wilfried Rupnow reports. “Today, they can complete preempted texts manually, the structure was standardized so certain information is always located in the same spots.” The simus classmate function to be able to generate texts with a consistent structure automatically from class features and feature values plays an important role in this. Many texts for Purchasing, Sales and other uses are preempted based on features these days. This function can also be used for translations into five languages – and can be extended as you see fit. The high information content of the datasets ensures that the person creating them gets far fewer questions. “This ensures high levels of acceptance of our processes and and gives an impetus for the extension of new material groups,” Wilfried Rupnow says.
“Nowadays, even texts for parts that have been strongly modified to suit individual purposes can be generated automatically, such as the acoustic hoods of our units. Three years ago, nobody would have thought this would be possible.”
Master Data Governance
In order to further increase the data quality for about 130,000 datasets, 77,000 of which are in active material masters, to eliminate sources of errors and to improve the use of data, Aerzen has been revising the material master creation process regarding global use in the ‘Global Material Masters’ project since 2017. Strict rules were defined to handle the master data (Master Data Governance) in cooperation with simus systems for this purpose which are supported by simus systems’ automatic processes were supposed to be implemented with classmate FINDER, an intelligent search engine. The existing requirements were worked through step by step and subsequently tested before they went live in March 2018. An important organizational change was the establishment of an evaluation body for master data. After searching in classmate FINDER, users now send an material request which can be filled in with the modified data they found. Notifications, setting up to dos in folders and status allocation are carried out by simus classmate.
“Users are now taking Master Data a lot more seriously and put more effort into describing materials accurately beforehand,”
says Christian Weper, Head of Master Data Management. “Good data quality has previously been created for following participants in later states of the process. Users themselves now benefit from faster processes, fewer questions for clarification and less potential for errors.” Initial fears of additional work have not been confirmed:
“To a large extend, people creating new datasets are relieved from pressure by preempted data and value lists, automatic support and the lack of extensive revisions,”
says Wilfried Rupnow. “Therefore, they can concentrate on their key tasks.”
In the Future: Global Material Master Data
The achieved data quality contributes to avoiding many mistakes made in the past. “It is not just us who benefit from it but also our suppliers and most of all our customers,” says Wilfried Rupnow. “Now, they can put their valuable production facilities into operation even more smoothly.” This advantage should be extended to the subsidiaries in the future. Currently, they are working on that the good data quality in the parent company can also be used by other ERP systems.
“We can react much faster on a global scale – for example when ordering replacement parts, purchasing parts or administration of inventory,”
Wilfried Rupnow says. “We need to extend text generation to additional classes for this,” Christian Weper says. “We even prepare our numerous help texts for international use although we will only reap the benefits of doing it in the future.”
Data Quality Takes Effort
AERZEN would like to continue working with simus systems.
“We are very happy with our partner who supported us swiftly and competently. The software offers significant advantages in terms of flexibility and usability compared to Master Data maintenance in an ERP system.”
Wilfried Rupnow sums it up.
AERZEN understood one thing early on: “Consistent master data quality with high information content is only achievable with extensive use of your own manpower,” Wilfried Rupnow sums up the situation. “The earlier you start with a new partner, the more use you will get from it.”