Project Scope, Problems

Welser Profile GmbH produces special profiles made of steel, stainless steel and non-ferrous metals at four production sites by roll forming.

In preparation for the introduction of an electronic catalog ordering system and the introduction of automated vertical storage systems, the material master data for the indirect material was analyzed. It was found that the existing old structure with product groups and material types was no longer up-to-date and, moreover, was not implemented consistently.

A project was set up for the uniform classification of material master data for indirect material. The Paradine GmbH, a global active specialist in material master data management, was assigned to implement the project.

In the ERP system SAP more than 50.000 material master data for indirect material were created.

For about half of the material master data also purchase order texts or basic data texts were available. In addition to the material type in the ERP system, there was a material group structure with approx. 290 material groups.

There were no uniform rules for designations or purchase order texts. This led to varying data quality, long search time, incorrect and incomplete results when searching and finding existing parts as well as duplicates when creating new parts.

Due to the grown structure and lack of uniform categorizations, evaluations such as spend analyses were also time-consuming and the results were afflicted with inaccuracies.

The tool and equipment issue in production is organized via classic warehouses. The parts are issued by warehouse employees.

Due to the size of the production sites, distances of up to 1.5 km from the production facility to the warehouse location are possible. This leads to a high expenditure of time when spare or auxiliary materials and supplies are needed.

Project Implementation

As a first step for the project implementation the possibilities of data structuring (classification) were considered. After analyzing the possibilities of setting up an own structure and considering the international standards available on the market, the decision was made to use ECLASS as a classification and product description standard.

The main reasons for the decision to use ECLASS were the global availability (languages), the breadth of the range of parts and services depicted, the provision of product data by suppliers and manufacturers, and the possibility of being able to expand or restrict company-specific data as required.

After several workshops and a review of the solutions available on the market, the ECLASS standard was selected as the target structure for the classification and Paradine was commissioned with the project implementation. The material master data from the ERP system was transferred to Paradine and the project infrastructure was set up at Paradine.

The data was transferred to the eptos™ master data system of Paradine for processing and classified according to ECLASS Release 10.1. In the course of the classification process the suppliers and manufacturers were also involved in the classification process. Also data sheets and pictures of the purchased and catalog parts were in the scope.

5,000 material master data were identified and eliminated

In total, Paradine classified about 46,000 material master data according to ECLASS 10.1.

In total, the 46,000 material master data records were assigned to about 2.900 ECLASS classes. These classes will be significantly reduced in further project steps.

The scope of the images provided by suppliers and manufacturers did not meet Welser’s expectations in the initial result. Since this information is to be used for the catalog system as well as the automated storage system, a further phase was included in the project, in which images and data sheets were again requested from the suppliers and manufacturers. At the end of this phase the project goal was achieved.

The duration of the project was extended compared to the original phase, because before, during and after the Christmas period, the processing times at Welser, but also at suppliers and manufacturers were much longer than expected.

The project results exceeded the expectations:

– Transparency in the parts enables simple bundling of requirements and reduces product, process and capital costs in the warehouse
– Uniformity and transparency for indirect material was implemented across all locations
– Inactive suppliers were identified and eliminated
– Classification enables the standardization of spelling within classes
– Automatic mapping to product groups reduces effort and increases the quality of spend analyses
– Parts can be found easily and quickly in the automated warehouse without the assistance of warehouse staff

«In a next step, after the roll-out, we will discuss the introduction of ECLASS-based feature lists. Product descriptions via features offer even better possibilities for searching, finding and comparing products», Oliver Brandl, purchasing specialist for investment and operating resources at Welser, explains the outlook for next steps.

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