Grünbeck is a leading provider of tailored water treatment solutions. Thanks to the software CATALOGcreator® it has automated the creation process for its spare parts catalog, containing more than 2,000 products in the building services and swimming pool technology sectors. Not only is that a great time saver; it also offers the new 2D online catalog’s users a host of additional benefits such as being able to quickly identify and order the required parts.
Grünbeck is a qualified consultant for water treatment, drinking water, process water and waste water. The company, which is headquartered in Höchstädt an der Donau, delivers solutions for building services, drinks production, power stations and other sectors. The group of companies employs more than 800 employees at 25 locations across Germany and has a presence in all the key global markets.
Grünbeck has used spare parts catalogs since 1997. They started out with a manageable number of spare parts lists. These were created manually in Excel or Word and converted into a PDF file so that users could open the documents easily with Acrobat Reader. When documents needed to be amended that process proved extremely time-consuming. They had to be adapted, converted to PDF files again and reissued. In the early years, customers were also provided with a hard-copy version consisting of three lever-arch files. Before the adoption of an electronic solution for spare parts catalogs, content was created in Word, and CorelDraw used to post-process the 2D drawings. Links to the relevant texts and drawings were then inserted into the PDF catalog’s table of contents. The entire catalog was saved on an internal drive. Partners were provided with a copy of the catalog on their own drive allowing external access.
By 2010, the number of products had exceeded 1,200, and it continues to grow from year to year. In its fundamentals, however, the original process had changed very little since 1997. Grünbeck’s project manager, Bernd Güntner, summarizes those days as follows: “It was as though we were still working with a hammer and chisel on a stone tablet. We manufacture highly innovative products, yet our spare parts catalog was stuck in the Stone Age. We aimed to change that as quickly as possible.”
A Grünbeck project team attended the specialist Technical Documentation (tekom) conference to learn about the potential of an electronic spare parts catalog and make initial contact with vendors. The subsequent decision-making process saw them opt for TID Informatik and the CATALOGcreator®. “We collaborated with TID mainly due to their simple license model, user-friendly and innovative software solution, and clear overall forecast of project costs”, explains Bernd Güntner. The main aim of adopting an electronic spare parts catalog was to be able to create a catalog using a fully automated process. It was also important for the new software solution to display a role-based user interface, as different internal and external users would require access to the online catalog.
Any data for the spare parts lists, in addition to drawings and photographs, are now stored within Microsoft Dynamics AX (formerly Axapta), from where they are exported to the CATALOGcreator® via a fully automated process. That makes life much easier. The information available in the catalog is easily accessed from a browser, and with its integrated search functionality it guarantees customers and internal users speedy and accurate identification of spare parts.
An authorization scheme administers the different access rights, thus ensuring that each user sees only information that has been previously defined. Additional improvements over the course of the project included perfecting the symbols for different items and extending the search functionality. The catalog is used internally by the Customer Service team, technicians and the customer distribution network. Currently, the distribution department is working with the online catalog, in which the correct parts can be identified quickly through graphical navigation or the convenient search function before being ordered by email. The next step involves creating an offline version of the catalog to support sales representatives.
Experience and Outlook
By 2016, more than 1,000 spare parts lists were already stored in the CATALOGcreator®. These came from the building services sector. Soon the complete catalog will be available online for building services and swimming pool technology. The catalog also contains further information such as photographs and assembly instructions, and a where-used reference to illustrate the part’s location. The company also has some ideas to further improve use of the spare parts catalog going forward. Top of the list is realizing the additional requirements of the Customer Service team. Other plans being considered for the catalog include working with compressed 3D models in future. Grünbeck also plans on integrating additional data, such as information on plant construction, into the catalog. The current spare parts catalog solution is therefore developing more and more into a service portal that incorporates information from various sources into the electronic spare parts catalog software.
“We believe that the overall CATALOGcreator® design and TID’s transparent pricing model are exceptional. We love the flexibility of this software and its potential for tailored design. It gives us plenty of leeway for new ideas. Its ease of use and intuitive user interface offer great customer benefits, meaning it should be well received by users of such catalogs. Last but not least, the collaboration with TID worked beautifully”, summarizes Grünbeck’s project manager, Bernd Güntner.