Spare Parts Ordering System for a Worldwide Dealer Network
Themed “first class spare parts provision for powerful machines” the manufacturer of agricultural machinery CLAAS implemented an innovative electronic spare parts catalog system for dealers to order easily, fast and unerringly machine-specific spare parts worldwide. This results in less faulty orders and an even better spare parts provision for customers.
CLAAS KGaA mbH is one of the world‘s leading companies in agricultural engineering with it‘s headquarter in Harsewinkel, Germany. Founded in 1913 the company is market and technology leader for harvesters. The product range comprises field choppers (world market leader), combine harvesters (European market leader), mowers, forage harvesters, liners, balers and even tractors. Next to the core business agricultural machinery, the segments manufacturing technology and industrial technology gain in importance. The group of companies achieved a turnover of 3.2 billion Euros in 2008 with about 9,100 employees. Export‘s share was 77.6 per cent. With 14 manufacturing operations and numerous sales companies CLAAS is globally present. A dense dealer and sales partner network offers competence and customer service on site.
For more than five years CLAAS ran two different spare parts catalog systems for the product lines harvesters and tractors. Those based on different business processes and data structures. Spare parts lists were completely new generated for every type of new machine and periodically updated. Catalogs were provided on CD but not via the Internet. For updating the information it was necessary to produce new CDs and distribute them. CD production was partly sourced out and performed by a service provider. Due to the large effort and corresponding costs the updating time intervals were kept long. As a consequence the information distributed were not always up-to-date. A search for serial numbers was not possible in the harvester catalogs.
Ahead of competition
Always anxious to set outstanding standards even for parts service CLAAS decided to break new ground in the provision of spare parts information. Conscious to convince and tie dealers and customers by excellent service quality the above mentioned legacy systems were replacedend of 2008. The newly implemented spare part information and ordering system is based on innovative technologies and supports dealers and customers in ordering needed spare parts in the best manner.
Technology partner: Docware
CLAAS relied upon the spare parts catalog specialist Docware implementing the new catalogue system. Based on the standard software PARTS-PUBLISHER Docware realised a customer-specific adapted catalog system that met the CLAAS requirements in detail. To define the interface SAP/PARTS-PUBLISHER and to specify the data model and data structure in SAP CLAAS and Docware worked closely with each other. Docware also provided support in data preparation. For example a special import plug-in was developed to map the different data models and the variant logic of the individual product groups for the automated catalog production.
Clearness by filter technology
Using the new catalog system CLAAS provides spare parts catalogues on DVD, via the Internet and on demand in a print version. All necessary data for the catalog production is available in SAP R/3 in a defined structure. Catalog data is automatically exported from SAP and imported in PARTS-PUBLISHER where the automated catalog production takes place. Via a complex filter technique only machine-specific data is displayed in the catalogs, and that for every machine number according to the order-specific machine configuration. About 150 to 200 machine-specific catalogs are produced daily.
Up-to-date data due to web technology
Data updates have a direct effect on the Internet catalogs after being released in SAP. Already distributed catalog DVDs are updated automatically via the Internet weekly. Here a standard procedure developed by Docware is applied: amendment files (delta updates) are provided on a server and can be downloaded via the Internet by authorised catalog users. The integration of the updates into the DVD catalogs runs automatically. Formerly updating of catalogs was costly - not only the re-generation but also the re-distribution of the DVDs. With the PARTS-PUBLISHER procedure only a few mouse clicks are needed for the DVD updates. The re-distribution of DVDs becomes obsolete. Since the new procedure reduced the effort of DVD updates to a minimum the updating intervals were shortened from four months to one week. That is how authorised catalog users do also have access to up-to-date data via DVD.
Find parts fast and unerringly
CLAAS provides catalog DVDs containing up-to-date data of each CLAAS machine. Filters control the display of machine specific data. That simplifies the fast and unerring selection of the correct part. Different access, navigation and search options are available. The access to the catalog can either be effected by the direct entry of the machine number or if unknown via the entry of the type designation (= catalog number). In the first case machine-specific data is displayed in the second only type-specific data. Another possibility to reach the needed part is the so called “manual access”. With this kind of navigation that runs over the machine classification the catalog user first selects the matching from a list of all CLAAS product families. This initiates the display of all relating product lines of this product family from which the desired one can be extracted. After selection of the correct product line first the relating models appear and then the relating machine numbers. You only need four mouse clicks for this kind of navigation in order to attain the desired machine. The further navigation via assemblies to the required part can be effected by text or picture and also onlytakes a few mouse clicks. With the search function you can search for part number and part description.
Catalog level 1, Access to the catalog Entry of engine or catalog number (type identification) or 4 mouse clicks to select the required engine
CLAAS provides a number of additional informationin its catalogues. The existence of such information is marked by special icons in the parts list. Clicking on these icons opens the window “Additional information”.
Assembly overview (Pictograms)
Catalogs in national language
CLAAS provides spare parts catalogs in six languages (user interface: 18 languages). Due to the modern speech coding standard Unicode it is possible to display all world languages - even Asian and Eastern European characters - with PARTS-PUBLISHER catalogs pointand- click. When the catalog is called up the catalog user can select the desired one amongst the stored languages.
Preview on catalog level 3
By implementing the new parts catalog system CLAAS modernised and improved its after sales service. Dealers and customers benefit from the electronic procurement solution. Users worldwide can use the system online and offline, twenty-fourseven as an information source or as an ordering platform. Highly up-to-date information and data is provided machinespecific and in national language. Demandoriented navigation possibilities and userfriendly search functions simplify the identification and ordering of spare parts. The standardisation and automation of the catalog production reduces the effort for generation and maintenance of the parts catalogs enormously. The continuous use of data, the independence from external service providers for catalog production and the updating of already distributed catalog DVDs via Internet save costs.
Catalog level 3 Exploded view and parts list of assembly
„About 5,000 users globally use our spare parts catalog both online and the offline DVD. The DVDs are updated weekly by delta updates via the Internet. That is how we constantly keep our spare parts catalogs up-to-date. And also we save substantial costs that would arise if we had to re-generate and re-distribute the DVDs.“
Hans-O. Grunwald, Head of Technical Documentation, CLAAS KGaA