The Schlatter Group – with its head office in Schlieren / Zurich (Switzerland) – is the worldwide leader in plant manufacturing for resistance welding systems and weaving machines for special applications. The group of companies optimizes its international spare parts business with CATALOGcreator® software. An innovative online shop that has a spare part catalog at its disposal ensures that Schlatter has an advantage over the competition and more sales turnover in its spare part business.
The Schlatter Group
The Schlatter Group today is a competent partner in the plant and machine industry with its over 300 employees distributed at their office locations in Switzerland, Germany (2nd production location), France, Brazil, USA, and Malaysia. Schlatter specializes in resistance welders for the wire industry as well as rail construction and weaving machines for paper machine clothing and for wire and fabric mesh. The company has made a name for itself as the leading supplier worldwide. It will be celebrating its 100th year company anniversary in 2016.
The Initial Situation
“Before we introduced CATALOGcreator®, there were no classic spare part catalogs. We only had operation manuals, electric diagrams, bills of material, and drawings,“ says Christian Kloeti, Head of Spare Parts Sales, EMBA (Strategic Management). The market today demands quick and easy identification of spare parts and processing of spare part orders within 48 hours – world wide.
The goal of the project was to create a complete set of documentation for each plant, with easy navigation and user interface that can fully integrate with the spare part order. This data is ideally available in an online shop that also permits the ordering of spare parts.
At Schlatter, different departments should profit from the new solution: In customer service, that means the local service technician as well as the help-desk department for which a generally clear-cut process for locating and ordering spare parts is established. The easy creation of operation manuals – with an integrated foreign language translation function for items – was a further requirement to make the technology both easier and cost saving.
Free 24-hour online availability of the spare parts online shop with real-time data in the system (integration with an SAP R/3 system) not only markedly increased internal use as well as service for customers, but also guaranteed independence from the time zones. This however, presupposes a high quality of the data for the new system. This condition ultimately was the impetus for an optimization of the internal processes at Schlatter, so that the data quality fulfills a very high standard today, now that the project has been implemented.
“We stand apart from the competition with our innovative presentation in customer service, and are confident we can secure customer retention. For the spare parts business, a modern online ordering system signifies an easy way to order and, therefore, a rise in the turnover of spare part sales. These arguments made the decision for an online shop – combined with a software solution for electronic spare parts catalogs – easy for us,“ said Christian Kloeti.
Through CATALOGcreator®, which is integrated in the online shop through the Sybit company, Schlatter set up password-protected – personal – online access with 24-hour availability. The spare parts catalog is now the leading system for all handbooks, material lists and drawings for each plant. This offers customers and internal users the advantage that all documents in an integrated catalog for each plant are available both online and offline. The head of the spare parts business points out another use of the spare parts catalog software: “As sort of a ‘free by-product’ of CATALOGcreator®, our operation manuals today can be generated almost fully automatically directly from the spare parts catalog. This results in internal cost savings.“
Add to that the expandability of the catalogs due to the integration of photos, hotspots and many other features, such as the multilingual information in the spare parts catalog: a temporary or fixed change in language can take place at any time. Further useful features that are entirely oriented to the needs of the user are a comprehensive search function as well as the ever-ready PDF export.
The company uses information from diverse data sources that are integrated in CATALOGcreator® : SAP R/3 (ERP system), Teamcenter (PLM system), and NX (CAD system), as well as the information from BSI (CRM) and INDRA (drawing management system).
Experience and Outlook
“We had three crucial decision-making criteria for the spare parts catalog software: technological basis, price-performance ratio, and supplier competence,” explains Christian Kloeti. “The expandability, the easy operation and the innovation energy of CATALOGcreator® impressed us. Minimal investment costs and a smaller break-even point between the two to three years of low operating annual costs really speak for this software solution.” TID, with its convincing notable references and almost 25 years of experience, stands for strategic security.
The Schlatter Group offers over 700 catalogs in its online shop. Every year, a further 100 to 150 new catalogs are added. Each catalog contains an average of 100 to 300 groups of components and between 800 and 3,000 individual parts per plant. The company plans to integrate, in the next step, the use of photos in the catalog with a reutilization effect as well as the use of XVL technology to integrate 3D models to the spare parts catalog.
Schlatter achieved many synergy effects with the new solution: improvement of the work process that translates to sustainable internal cost savings, better catalog performance and faster execution times in the ordering process which creates more time for the active business, the improvements on communication, and the increase in service quality.
The company uses all three output formats of the electronic catalog: the CD-offline version for use on the customer’s plant PC in the form of a CD or memory stick, the online version with automatic shopping cart transfer in conjunction with the online shop, and the PDF format for operation manuals.
Lastly, Schlatter presents itself as an innovative and modern partner to their customers, and in so doing strengthens the company’s image and invaluably sets itself apart in the market. The new solution will continue to be developed according to customers’ needs.
“Anja Hantke, a speaker for TID who was responsible for the project, met our expectations well and won our trust. She quickly identified our needs and translated them into action swiftly, expertly, and within our budget. The initiative, responsibility, and the interface coordination with Sybit was perceived and emphatically pursued at all times, e.g. the transfer of the shopping cart from the catalog to the online shop. We would really like to be able to count on her as our TID project manager again for further projects in the future.”
Christian Kloeti, Head of Spare Parts Sales, EMBA (Strategic Management)