To accelerate variant construction and to facilitate clear communication of production possibilities with a preview, as well as the creation of production drawings and parts lists. To support sales staff and connect customers to the system.
After the decision for customX had been made, specialists from the software developer created a prototype in the rulebook. The systematization for this was developed together with the customer. Following intensive training of the employees, SKS can maintain and extend the system independently. After sales and sales representatives have successfully worked with it, customers now have access to the configurator as well.
Today, drawings and other documents are generated at the push of a button, which significantly reduces the workload for the drawing department. At the same time, their tasks are changing, the focus now being on the maintenance of the system. By using the configurator, the numerous discussions with customers about technical feasibility are no longer necessary – you can only configure what can be produced.
- All parties involved benefit from the consistent transparency and progressing from customer requirements to the final mudguard is now a short and efficient process.
SKS metaplast Scheffer Klute GmbH
Transparency as Time Saver
SKS designs thousands of customized variants of mudguards with customX.
More than 4,000 variants of one single product every year – too many for a small development team to handle on their own. Exactly why SKS Metaplast Scheffer Klute GmbH chose to work with the configuration tool customX to automatically generate production drawings and bills of material for their mudguards. This approach creates transparency and makes business processes much easier and much more effective.
Times change. While mudguards used to be noisy conversation killers back in the old days, modern versions are made of plastic instead of rattling metal. You can get them in all shapes and colors and some of them even include a copper foil that conducts electricity and makes cables superfluous. The Rolls-Royce of mudguards comes from Sundern, Germany, and is produced by SKS Metaplast.
Truly Made in Germany
Founder and birthplace of the company are immortalized in the business name SKS (Scheffer Klute Sundern).
It all began with the production of air pumps back in 1932, before mudguards came into the picture in 1983. Today, the SKS product range includes tools, chainguards and (bike) panniers. All renowned bicycle manufacturers equip their bikes with products from Sundern. “Made in Germany” is more than just a label for SKS, it is what they (truly) stand for.
No mudguard is alike. SKS produces around 2 million mudguards every year, the common batch size being 100 pieces. A batch size of 2,000 is the absolute maximum, says plant manager Michael Arnold. So we are talking about more than 4,000 variants per year.
“Bicycle manufacturers produce city bikes and mountain bikes, racing bikes and trekking bikes and, more recently, folding bikes and bikes with support engines. All of these come in different frame sizes and designs,” says Michael Arnold, "so, of course, we have to provide different mudguards for all these different bikes.”
The procedure before the implementation of customX was as follows: SKS sales people and authorized dealers noted down the bike manufacturer’s requirements, used Excel spreadsheets to roughly check if the requested parts could be produced and then passed the order on to the development department. The engineers then took a model that already existed and that was similar to the requested part and modified it using AutoCAD. That’s where the coordination between customer, sales and production started. Heated discussions were part of daily business and it took several cycles until all misunderstandings had been cleared up and the requested mudguard could finally be produced. “Our draftswoman was constantly swamped with work,” Arnold remembers, “customers were not pleased when their ideas could not be realized as they had expected.”
SKS started looking for a tool that would help them to develop variants faster and at the same time create consistent transparency of what could actually be produced. The decisive tip came from their CAD consultant Man and Machine Leycad. They told SKS about the variant configuration tool customX that is able to “learn” the rules for the production of mudguards and can automatically generate production drawings based on parameters.
To put it in a nutshell: customX offers the exact functionalities SKS was looking for. The first step was to determine the rules: Which parameters define the appearance of a mudguard? Which dependencies are there? What lengths, widths, angles, profiles and colors are permitted? Where can a spoiler or dirt trap be mounted? How should reflectors be integrated? How can the mudguard of choice be fixed? To name just a few.
Complex Rules made Simple
Man and Machine’s IT team built up the configuration and – after only a short training session –the draftswoman at SKS was able to generate all production documents without having to draw a single line in the CAD system or add any dimensions. After the specifications have been entered into the easy-to-use web mask, customX automatically generates drawings and bills of material. Daily discussions with the production department now belong in the past. Today, customers can either independently configure their individual product online or do it with SKS sales people. After the drawings have been released, they are passed on to the draftswoman who enters them into the PPS system (production planning and control system). Her tasks are now significantly more interesting than before customX as she is now also responsible for expanding and updating the configuration tool.
Using customX is as simple and intuitive as it gets and the integrated feasibility check prevents users from designing mudguards that cannot actually be produced. Only permitted sizes and profiles can be chosen. The corresponding mounting method can be added at the click of a button. Users can specify color and fixtures and even fill in the title block for the drawing. Every time the save button is clicked, customX updates the preview and bill of material.
Additional User Groups
Implementing customX was just the first step. Because the software is so incredibly easy to use, SKS could gradually extend the group of users. At first only sales people and authorized dealers used the online configuration tool. Together with customers they could now easily design new mudguards on their laptop and then pass on all the data directly to the drawing department. Today, all the important customers have a customX log-in and can independently design new mudguards that meet their specific requirements.
Knowledge Management with customX
Michael Arnold takes stock, “Our entire know-how used to be in the heads of just a few responsible employees. With customX we now have one central and independent system that allows access to our product knowledge to anyone who needs it. All parties involved benefit from the consistent transparency and progressing from customer requirements to the final mudguard is now a short and efficient process.”