By Anthony J. Lockwood
Dear Desktop Engineering Reader:
So we come back from vacation and promptly whisk Gracie the meshuga mutt from the kennel to the vet for emergency care. Bloated as a Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade balloon, she could barely move. If touched, she yelped in agony. Well, it turns out she takes after me: She gorged herself. Her kennel and life mate, George, barely ate " too depressed in the slammer, I suppose. Gracie gladly ate his meal too for five days.
Companies in expansion and/or acquisition mode often get themselves into a similar jam. What happens is that the suits want to expand and grab more market share by being more innovative, by bringing new products to market faster and by being more responsive to customer needs. So, they buy out competitors or setup operations “locally” and so forth. And if this is not managed correctly, they can gorge their systems and wreak havoc. Think Ames department stores. Once number 4 behind outfits like Wal-Mart, it’s now gone.
Now imagine expanding on a global scale. You have to manage, control and leverage all kinds of differences: processes, engineering teams, documents and cultures. You have to somehow make it all work together and share resources so that your product designed, fabricated and deployed globally is the same wherever it is found. Your standards, quality, specifications, part numbers and everything have to be the same so that there is full interchangeability between parts created here and there. How do you do that?
Ruhrpumpen, a centrifugal pump technology company with a global presence, figured out how, and today’s Check it Out link takes you to a case study with a key part of their story. It’s a good read that does a fine job illustrating why and how a centralized document management solution for a global engineering company " for that matter, any company " is an absolute must.
The background: Ruhrpumpen offers engineered-to-order products for the oil & gas, chemical, power, industrial applications, and water and mining industries. It wanted to expand market presence with new plants and service centers in Argentina, Brazil and places in the Far East like India and China. Germany, Mexico, and the U.S. were in the mix already. Simultaneously, they wanted to offer more products on the higher-profit, engineered-to-order side of the ledger. And they needed to improve their documentation processes to satisfy customer demand and to prove they are what the paper describes as “an easy and technically agile company to work with.”
Among the obstacles these goals encountered was worldwide R&D. Processes were all thought out locally, not globally. And that meant that disbursed locations had different part numbers, classifications, specifications and controls. Revision control, producing the correct documents, and, say, pulling a design made in Mexico for a German engineer working on something for a client in the U.S. were anything but efficient.
Ruhrpumpen adopted Synergis Adept document management software to centralize their global engineering and documentation processes. The case study provides you with the thoughts and impressions of what this decision has done for Ruhrpumpen using the words of real-life engineers at the company. But the paper offers more than just that.
See, after outlining the problems and how Adept helped solve them, an engineering manager tosses out a terrific analogy that nails why a good document management system is a must. When asked by the anonymous writer to put a value on what five years working with a Synergis Adept infrastructure has meant for Ruhrpumpen and its global operations, he replies: “Trying to place a figure on the value Adept provides the company is like asking you to quantify the value of Microsoft Windows in your PC. You can’t really put a number to it. Adept is an enabler.”
Bingo. Wish I had come up with that. A document management system such as Adept is critical to your growth and expansions initiatives whether they are local or global plans. It’s the enabler not just a cost center. And that’s why you should force feed the suits this short paper. Hit today’s Check it Out link and download your copy. Well done Ms. or Mr. Anonymous.
Thanks, Pal. – Lockwood
Anthony J. Lockwood
Editor at Large, Desktop Engineering