Seamless order information flows support Alfa Laval’s business objectivesPosted 2021-08-31
In 2017 Alfa Laval introduced the 1st product in their new gasketed plate heat exchanger range. The new product not only had sensational new features but had also been developed according to a new standard having a new product architecture. The product was introduced in a new “on-line” configurator.
The configurator also had an order sending capability so that the configured products easily could be sent from sales to the Alfa Laval supply units. To support the new order flow, a new document handler was introduced in the concerned supply units. The new document handler is a supporting tool for the people working with order handling.
It generates the necessary documents to process the orders further into the manufacturing systems. The 1st version of the document handler had a number of limitations and the new order flow team (GOAL Team) with members from tretton37, a proven IT partner at Alfa Laval, was chosen to design and develop a new future-proof document handler.
Most gasketed plate heat exchangers are “assembled to order” or “made to order”. The products can vary in a vast number of ways since they are customized to fit a customer’s specific needs. The configurator defines what’s possible to sell and produce. It is crucial that the factories around the world receive the correct product information including the design drawings so they can make the ordered products. This makes the document handler a critical tool in the order flow.
- Each heat exchanger has a unique design and is built to order. If there is no drawing of the design or a plate hanging list, the assemblers cannot work, says Jakob Nilsson who works in the Operation Development – Gasketed Plate Heat Exchanger team at Alfa Laval and is responsible for the dataflow between the order system and the factories.
The original document handler that was built to manage the information flow of the new plate heat exchanger products had a monolithic architecture and technical constraints that impacted further development. The Operation Development department for gasketed plate heat exchangers at Alfa Laval then realized that they needed a new document handler solution that would meet their future needs. The task was given to team responsible for the new order flow solution (GOAL Team) with team members from tretton37 (Kristoffer Jälén and Sofia Larsson) to design and develop the new application.
- I knew that the team is genuinely interested in turning technology into value and have seen them translate our business needs into viable solutions before. We felt confident they would do a great job, says Jakob Nilsson.
Modern architecture and infinitely scalable
The new document management solution is built in a modern Microsoft Azure microservices architecture to make it possible to add new functionalities on the fly. Being cloud based, the development team can take full responsibility end-to-end and they do not have to involve the Alfa Laval IT department when they add functionalities that need more storage or processing power.
- Alfa Laval has adopted a cloud-first strategy and cloud-based services allow us to purchase the right level of performance for each transaction type. It must for example be instantaneous for the assemblers to access the drawings, whilst other data extractions are less time critical, says Jakob.
Supports long term business goals
In the new document handler, everything is saved in the same file structure which supports Alfa Laval’s long-term goal for all the factories to work in an automated and uniform way. The aggregated order information is just one click away for the order processors, and the right information can be shared with other stakeholders such as classification societies.
A good document handler tool also makes life easier further down the line in the sales cycle in the after-market. Being able to identify the right spare part is both a matter of good business but also important for the customer experience. Furthermore, the solution makes it easier and faster to add new features making it an important digitalization enabler.
- In the future we are planning to introduce a feature that will allow the factory to view a 3D model from all angles and to see exactly what parts are included in the design. This will have a positive effect on quality and efficiency, says Jakob.
- Throughout the project the communication between us and Jakob and his team has been excellent. Having an engaged customer who wants to work together with us to find the best solution makes the work more rewarding and the end result better, says Kristoffer Jälén, solution manager in the GOAL Team.
About Alfa Laval
Alfa Laval was founded in 1883 by the inventor Gustaf de Laval, with a mission to make the dairy industry safer and more efficient. Today Alfa Laval is a world leader within the key technology areas of heat transfer, separation and fluid handling. The company was founded on a single brilliant invention, and innovation remains at the heart of everything Alfa Laval does. With more than 3,900 patents, Alfa Laval provides worldwide solutions in areas that are vital to society both today and in the future.
The Alfa Laval gasketed plate heat exchangers are used in a wide variety of applications, from pasteurizing milk, regulating the temperature in residential buildings, cooling engines on vessels, cooling water in nuclear powerplants and cooling gigantic datacenters in the north of Sweden.
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