To directly implement the results of customer meetings and provide efficient support for sales by closely connecting sales and engineering. To generate customer documentation and engineering documents, and connect to the ERP system, including master data transfer.
After the decision for the customX configuration software had been made, the diesel filters were systematized, the developer was given intensive training and then independently developed the rulebook with the support of the customX team. Both the engineering department and, of course, the sales department were connected to customX.
Today, variant design takes 20 minutes instead of half a day, as was usual in the past - a saving of up to 95 % - is always error-free and is available day and night. Sales staff and developers are highly satisfied with the new software and are pleased with its simple handling. Customer satisfaction and working atmosphere have both been significantly improved.
From sport boats to nuclear power plants
Variant configurator customX accelerates the development of diesel filters
Since Willibrord Lösing Filterproduktion GmbH in Hattingen started using customX for the construction of variants of their diesel filters, up to 95% less time is required to adapt existing products: The processing time has been reduced from more than 240 minutes to 20 minutes - including the complete documentation. Communication between sales and development has also benefited, and the interface to the ERP system provides additional security.
Since the 1980s, Willibrord Lösing Filterproduktion GmbH (Lösing) has been developing and producing filters for engines that separate water, suspended solids and solids from diesel oil. The filters are used in a wide variety of applications - road, water, rail and stationary - and in small sport boats as well as in nuclear power plants. The Separ product brand is well-known among engine manufacturers - above all because the company reacts very flexibly to customer requirements. The basic technology of these filters is still the same as 20 years ago, but the various applications require filter types that differ significantly in size, material and technical fittings, such as heating or water sensors. For example, filters for trucks must be as small as possible, for buses as light as possible, diesel locomotives need heated filters, and redundant filtration operations are indispensable in shipbuilding.
Skilfully directing creativity
As in many technical companies, however, it is not developers who advise customers, but highly specialized sales experts. After the sales meeting, they take the customer's ideas back to the company and, like translators, have to convey the customer's wishes to the design department. This takes a relatively long time, because wishes and design ideas have to be coordinated and successively optimized.
While creativity, flexibility and customer orientation are the basis of the company's success, it would, of course, be good to direct creativity in such a way that customers order their optimum product variant right away. This would further strengthen the position of the sales department in the eyes of the customer, there would be fewer errors in the configuration and the "history" of a product could be traced better. Of course, the whole thing should also be easy to handle. How would that work? Developer Alexander Texter found the solution by chance at an Inventor Day organised by Man and Machine: customX. "I immediately saw that this variant configurator is exactly what we need," says Alexander Texter. He quickly succeeded in convincing his superiors of the added value of this tool.
Knowledge transferred from people’s minds to the computer
The challenge was to comprehensively map the product variants and rules for the combination of components so that users could be offered a simple and reliable selection of all options. "This can only be achieved through research in the company," says Alexander Texter, who had worked for Lösing for less than two years at the time of purchasing customX. After graphically plotting a few "variant trees", he interviewed his colleagues, some of whom had been employed at Lösing for several decades. It turned out that you have to ask very precise questions ... and that the word "actually" does not exist in variant construction. Answers such as "we've done this a few times, but actually it's not often requested" mean that, without exception, a rule does have to be established for this rare product variant.
The presentation of the options also needed some consideration: Do the heaters for 5-litre and 10-litre filters on the one hand and 40-litre filters on the other belong together, although they are technically quite different? At Lösing they belong together, even if there is probably no generally valid answer to such questions. Very practical: customX gives users all the freedom they need.
Constructing the Rules – really easy
Generally, the handling of the software turned out to be pleasantly simple. "If you have a basic understanding of how rules and regulations are mapped, you'll get along very quickly with customX," says Alexander Texter. He was trained by the software developer and was able to implement the so-called systematization after about two weeks. Already during the training he was able to derive and configure simple rules for his own products. After that, support was available when needed. Most of the questions could be answered over the phone; in more complex cases, the developers actively helped.
The actual research and rule development took in total no more than six months. Since the daily business with new developments and adjustments also had to be dealt with, it took almost a year for the first sales staff to be able to use the new tool.
Pleasantly surprised customers
Today all sales employees use customX. They appreciate the fact that the configurator is available around the clock, seven days a week. And customers are amazed at the new flexibility: even if the order is discussed and placed shortly before closing time, the customer receives the complete electronic documentation by email immediately afterwards.
Of course, the development department also works with customX: The documentation created here serves as a basis for possible short-term adjustments for which there are no rules in customX yet. The system is just as important when it comes to quickly helping sales staff who do not regularly use customX. An adaptation or variant development, which used to take half a day, can now be completed in an average of 20 minutes - without errors, of course. This is good for the customers and good for the working atmosphere.
From configurator to ERP
There are even more advantages: Alexander Texter has set up customX in such a way that a basic master data record is created in the ERP system every time a customer approves a product. The responsible employee only has to add additional data, such as the customer-specific article number, contact person and price - a further step towards greater efficiency and reliability. And: If a customer needs a filter variant based on an earlier model, customX can recalculate this variant in a very short time. Any changes and improvements that have been added to the system in the meantime will be "implemented" immediately. So, every new filter is really up to date.
For Willibrord Lösing Filterproduktion GmbH the decision for customX was a real success factor. "Our productivity has increased enormously," says Alexander Texter. "The cooperation with Man and Machine has once again proved its worth."