Holmatro is a leading provider of hydraulic rescue tools. The electronic spare parts software CATALOGcreator® not only optimizes the company’s online sales of spare parts, but also offers information to its worldwide network of representative offices, allowing them to independently manage tool maintenance processes.
Hydraulic devices and systems produced by the Holmatro Group are used worldwide in rescue missions and special operations as well as in industry. These uses demand tools that are reliable in any situation. The company is considered one of the technology leaders in its industry. Its production facilities are located in the Netherlands and the United States, and it has representative offices in England, Poland, and China.
The Holmatro Group formerly saved documentation regarding spare parts in a Word document available for use as a PDF both internally and externally. The information contained in the document was compiled from various sources. Data entry and processing was undertaken manually in each case. The data consisted of 3D drawings, tables, and other information in relation to products and spare parts.
The catalog did not have a coherent structure, however. Therefore, creating the catalog was very time-consuming and mobilized a great deal of employee resources. Once the spare part was identified in the PDF by internal departments or representative offices, the final ordering process was still carried out by conventional post. Furthermore, the representative offices had to update any amendments to the PDF themselves. The entire process from creating the catalog to making orders was very cumbersome for the after-sales team. It was likewise susceptible to incorrect orders and simply outdated.
To restructure the new after-sales service, the group decided to introduce electronic spare parts catalog software to store catalogs capable of being updated quickly and easily on various media. Important criteria for selecting a suitable software solution included: easy operation, structured content, and methods for connecting and linking data. Additionally, the Holmatro spare parts catalog was to not only be available in an offline version, but also be accessible via the internet going forward.
The project aimed to automatically import all new 2D and 3D data to an electronic spare parts catalog. Old data sets were to remain available as a Word/PDF document. These PDF documents relating to older products should also be available in the online catalog. CATALOGcreator® was ultimately chosen as the software was able to implement all of the required criteria.
Since the company did not store any of its data in a central database prior to this, it had to make considerable internal efforts to gain clean data which allowed extensive automatic importing into the electronic catalog.
This enabled the software to automatically interlink construction data from SolidWorks with parts lists. Holmatro does not use the SolidWorks workflow to compress its 3D models for the internet, opting instead for Lattice3D’s XVL technology.
The XVL Technology is very often used in combination with CATALOGcreator® for 3D catalogs. Furthermore, Holmatro profits from the automatic derivation of illustrations in the catalog. This is a great feature of XVL that’s offered exclusively by TID, making the process of creating a catalog in 3D and 2D considerably easier.
The next step of the project involved integrating the electronic spare parts catalog into Holmatro’s own retail portal. Since 2015, the spare parts catalog has been available worldwide via the portal and offers many benefits: Representative offices in more than 120 countries now have access to up-to-date data in a structured format. Quick browsing, graphical navigation, and access to other documents noticeably simplify correct identification and ordering of spare parts. It also allows portal users to find additional information on product maintenance.
It was important for Holmatro to enable their international representative offices to take over tool maintenance. After all, correct maintenance of these tools can be the deciding factor in whether or not a life is saved. Thanks to the interlinked information stored in the online catalog, maintenance can now take place on-site for the first time. The software also supports an additional feature: an inspection system. This provides information such as the date when the tool is next due for maintenance. Nowadays, many representative offices such as those in Australia, New Zealand, USA, Germany, and Spain, make use of the vast array of options available in the online catalog, thus providing their customers with broader service.
Thanks to a shortcut solution written by the company itself, the tools’ barcodes can easily be scanned and its parts immediately located in the catalog. The identified parts can subsequently be ordered by telephone or sent to Holmatro via e-mail using a shopping basket feature within the system. The catalog is available in English. This is the main language spoken within Holmatro’s network of representative offices and thus, there are no current plans to extend catalog languages.
Experiences and Outlook
“We value our collaboration with D&TS and are very satisfied with project developments,” stated Jan Uijtdewilligen, Manager of Business Development and Corporate ICT with the Holmatro Group. The Holmatro project has been single-handedly implemented by D&TS GmbH based in Schwelm, Germany. Following initial support from TID Informatik GmbH, this partner is now solely responsible for overseeing services to the Holmatro Group.
Holmatro’s next project will be completed shortly: A spare parts catalog for industry end customers. This involves a limited version of the spare parts catalog already available online for retailers. The rollout is planned for fall 2016. CATALOGcreator® provides the company with a tool that offers further potential for automatized data processing. The company must undertake more groundwork, however, before the tool may ultimately be used for this purpose.
Overall, the introduction of the software has led to demonstrable improvements in the design efficiency of processes today. It has also resulted in the simultaneous reorganization of spare parts systems. Thanks to the extensive groundwork undertaken by Holmatro, they can take advantage of these benefits in the future and progressively establish automated processes.
“With the introduction of CATALOGcreator®, we not only wanted to simplify the sale of spare parts, but also provide targeted support to retailers, enabling them to carry out independent maintenance on-site. We have accomplished this goal. All current important documents for maintenance may be retrieved at any time by accessing the representative office’s online portal. The ability to organize maintenance on-site is considered a major success as expert maintenance is essential for our products. After all, they are used in high-security areas such as the police or fire service,” summarizes Gert Jan Uijtdewilligen, Manager of Business Development and Corporate ICT with the Holmatro Group.