Upgrading to the new software version for electronic spare parts catalogs ensures that Windhager has the full range of options for a forward-looking aftersales service. In addition to handling and additional search options for spare parts, the company optimized its web services and catalog performance during the project.
“Heat with Vision. Since 1921” is Windhager’s slogan. For almost 100 years, the company has been renowned for innovative technical solutions, making heating convenient, safe and cost-effective. Today Windhager is one of Europe’s leading manufacturers of boilers for renewable energies and have suitable heating systems for every fuel and solar energy. Production takes place exclusively at company headquarters in Seekirchen, near the Austrian city of Salzburg.
In the DACH region comprising the three main German-speaking countries, Windhager’s expert partner fitters use the 2D online spare parts catalog, which can be accessed via an online portal solution. In the catalog, the user can easily find the spare parts required, as well as further documentation such as installation instructions. Prices and retail availability can be retrieved by user and country. The online catalog is also used internally for approximately 120 customer service organization. The technicians also receive an offline version of the catalog to enable them to provide the best possible customer service on the ground even without Internet access.
Windhager has already successfully employed an older version of the CATALOGcreator®. Following five productive years using the CATALOGcreator, they will now investigate whether the new version of the software can offer further benefits for the company, its customers and the products added in the meantime. Windhager first learnt of the new features of the 2015 software version on cDAY 2015, the annual customer information day held by TID Informatik GmbH. Ultimately, it was the personal advice of the TID project leader responsible that alerted Windhager to the considerable benefits of upgrading to the new version.
The three key requirements to be implemented as part of the Windhager update were:
- Enhanced performance
- Intuitive navigation for users
- Improved search functionality
The final two points are already standard features of CATALOGcreator® 2015.
To improve the online catalog’s performance, Windhager opted to replace all of the original 2D vector graphics with 2D pixel graphic drawings. This guarantees considerably shorter load times. Windhager can import the 2D pixel graphics directly from its Agile PLM system to the CATALOGcreator® software where they will be featured. The upgrade also involved optimizing web services already in place, including to do with pricing and availability, using the Microsoft Dynamics AX ERP system. This led to further handling and performance gains.
A PDF document, laying out the features of the electronic spare parts catalog, was created to make operation as user-friendly as possible. The new version now makes it possible to switch between different catalog products at any time. The new search option for items is a unique feature added as part of the upgrade project. If an item number is already known, it can now be entered into the catalog’s start screen to search for it. That method also allows for searches for items that are not featured in the catalog, but are stored in Windhager’s ERP system. A list generated in the background from the ERP system’s database enables this comparison in the CATALOGcreator®. Thus the part in question will subsequently be available to order via the shopping basket function.
Experience and Outlook
In mid-September 2016, Windhager began using the new version of the electronic spare parts catalog. “We had very positive feedback from internal and external users. The new features have been very well received,” explained Harald Nussbaumer, IT administrator and project manager at Windhager. At the end of the day, the company would like to increase use of the catalog. “We aim to achieve our goal of making the online catalog the primary method of ordering parts, gradually replacing telephone orders. The more users the catalog has, the higher requirements will become in that regard,” clarifies Windhager’s project manager.
Currently, around 15% of dealers order via the portal. Therefore, a 3D catalog could become a future option, as it would allow for improved navigation. At the moment, there is no firm project in the pipeline, however.
“Through the upgrade to the new version of the CATALOGcreator® we have secured the technological foundation for our future. Extending compatibility to current platforms such as tablets is already standard. We greatly value the collaboration with TID owing to their technical expertise, and look forward to further joint projects,” says Harald Nussbaumer.