The magazine of Friedhelm Loh Group

The magazine of Friedhelm Loh Group

Software for feed mixing technology
Experience – Engineering

New software for Siloking

Progress with PLM. The IT experts from Cideon have implemented a new business software at mixer-wagon manufacturer Siloking that enables the company to develop and launch new machines at a faster pace and thus bolster its dynamic growth.

Text André Schmidt-Carré ––– Photography

The red and blue mixer-wagon slowly rolls through the compact cowshed, passing hundreds of dairy cattle. The electrically driven Siloking eTruck 1408 scatters the fodder at the push of a button. If required, the fodder is disposed from the container at both sides at the same time. The multi-function display shows the driver exactly how much he has distributed. A special software controls the scales to weigh out the perfect amount of feed. For Siloking, the eTruck 1408 is a true stroke of genius. Developers and designers spent two and a half years devising the mobile mixer-wagon – from the idea of the machine and the first trade fair prototype right through to the current pilot series.

It is in part thanks to such outstanding technology that the mixer-wagon experts have been one of the leading companies in the sector for years. The business exports its machines to more than 50 countries and its sales figures have doubled in the past six years. A great success that also presents new challenges. “There were a lot of software systems floating about in the business back then,” recalls Peter Schöttl, Managing Director of Siloking. “Particularly the ERP system couldn’t keep up with our rapid growth.”

Switching over to a new, more efficient ERP system was therefore an easy decision. But how should they connect the CAD system to the new software? Originally, Siloking had entertained the idea of keeping the old CAD system and connecting it via an ­interface to the new ERP. The plan was quickly scrapped, however. “Besides the well-founded advice from Cideon, it was our profitability assessment that swayed us to start using SAP’s PLM at the same time,” says Schöttl. Based on the overall costs, the end-to-end system is more cost-effective and more reliable than a variant with two different programs.

Interfaces come second

“There are often practical disadvantages to using interfaces,” explains Cideon’s Principal Consultant Stefan Winzer who implemented the new PLM at Siloking. Data synchronisation between parallel systems is not always stable or reliable, for instance. In the event of error, it often takes a lot of effort to determine the cause. But the fully integrated solution, the Engineering Control Center, does things differently.

The new, unified software architecture encompasses all processes, achieving complete data accessibility throughout the company – from the initial idea for developing a new machine, the design process, procurement and production right through to logistics, sales and customer service. “By switching the ERP and PLM software over to SAP all in one go, we were able to network design, production, logistics and administration and thus achieve complete consistency, from the management board to the work bench,” says Stefan Röder, CAD Administrator at Siloking.

Siloking

Siloking Mayer Maschinenbau GmbH manufactures machinery with innovative fodder mixing technology to meet the needs of dairy farming. Managed by its original founder, the family-owned business employs approx. 350 workers. Its product portfolio includes self-driving mixer-wagons, stationary dispensing systems and distribution equipment. Its cutting-edge agricultural machinery is manufactured at two locations and sold in over 50 countries.

50 countries worldwide

Siloking sells its mixer-wagons in over 50 countries and has already received several awards for its specialist technology.

12 t capacity

The rear-wheel drive enables even small facilities to use the wagons, which can navigate through tight spaces.

100 %

oil lubrication ensures the mixer-wagons from Siloking require less maintenance and boast greater reliability.

Employees therefore no longer need to copy and enter data into their respective system, but can now simply use the data available and subsequently add their information. Using this method, Cideon is optimising the technical and commercial processes at Siloking. All in all, simplified data maintenance, improved data quality and increased process reliability ensure working processes are much quicker to complete and, to top it all off, less susceptible to errors.  

It only takes a quick look at the old ERP, which notably failed to record material transfers, to discover the exact advantages. Many areas were working with different programs and, due to the various stand-alone solutions, employees in different departments often had to manually transfer data from one program to the other. “Mistakes were common and information was incorrectly linked on a regular basis,” says Winzer, an expert in PLM. “When we were carrying out the project, we noticed numerous irregularities between the data in the different systems.”

In addition, each media disruption that occurred meant more work because the employees in procurement, manufacturing and services often needed to ask the developers where certain data on a machine was located and which version of a component they actually needed to install. “If manufacturing personnel install the wrong components because they have outdated information, that’s a catastrophe waiting to happen,” explains Winzer. “This potential for error has now been eliminated, as the designers label currently used parts in the system for all employees to see.”

Reviewing the database

Because the switch was made whilst operations were still ongoing, the utmost care was needed. “The migrated data contained the company’s entire know-how,” says ­Winzer. Cideon therefore wrote a dedicated program for the Siloking project, which transferred all the data from different source systems and formats into the new PLM, simultaneously deleting any superfluous data. “Only around 15 per cent of the entire database of approximately two terabytes was real data. The rest was just duplications,” Winzer reveals.

It only took a few weeks for Röder and his colleagues to appreciate the benefits of the new system. “We discover new possibilities almost every day,” says Röder. The next step for him is therefore to roll out the new PLM on a global scale. “After 25 years of production and following the transformation of our workshop into the large business it is today, switching over our software was a massive step,” says Schöttl, Managing ­Director of Siloking. “By performing the switchover, Cideon has enabled us to adapt processes so that we can reliably and efficiently maintain our growth in the future.”

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