Success Story / Spheros GmbH / Product design process

Next stop: initial sampling

In the world of tomorrow most people will live in cities. Mobility concepts are key elements of the urban development. They lead away from individual traffic and enhance public transportation. The best thing about this is: the means of transport are getting quieter. Also transportation companies are switching to alternative drive systems. Spheros GmbH, as the worldwide leading producer of bus air condition systems, offers according solutions, including control technology for electric buses. The development and manufacturing of new air condition and heating systems, pumps, controllers and roof hatches is managed via the JobRouter digitization platform – regardless of continental borders and ERP systems.

Whether as globetrotter or commuter, double decker or articulated bus, Paris, Beijing or Sao Paulo: A hassle-free and pleasant trip from A to B is for both the driving personnel and passengers only feasible in a well-tempered bus. Today the technology is regulated by heat pumps providing the right climate in all weathers from the top of the bus. As it is standard in the automotive industry, Spheros GmbH relies on module series adapted individually to every bus type, drive system and specific framework. The company is one of the global market leaders in the field of bus air conditioning and roof hatch construction.

From the idea to the prototype

Before a component goes on its first journey it has to pass the so called Concept Design Production process, abbreviated CDP process. It’s very complex and consists of numerous test and release steps in between one steering group that are documented in parallel with updated release numbers.

The fully electric climate system REVO E ensures comfortable trips globally.

Success Story / Spheros GmbH / Product design process

“Previously, CDP processes were regulated via Excel tables” IT project manager Patricia Giller says. Meaning: The designer sends his table to the project engineer who prints it out, signs it, scans the document and sends it via email to the next responsible person, who is again printing, signing and forwarding… till it gets all necessary releases in the end.

If a product modification or new product development failed in the testing process during the concept and construction phase, the whole process had to be started from zero again. The growth course and the number of individual customer requirements made the process digitization increasingly urgent. The largest challenge was the media leap to the ERP systems at the worldwide manufacturing locations.

Workflow management meets ERP

The solution was, as so often, close at hand: In the Bavarian town Gliching JobRouter already exchanged SAP* data and handled the receipt of invoices since 2013 reliably and automatically. As soon as it was clear that the first construction concept migrates already over up to 6 desks spread all over the world, it became clear: the tracking is complex. What’s more: Material flow for the prototype construction, initial sampling and subsequently serial production is performed via not connected ERP systems, e.g. the SAP module MM or another ERP software.

Alfred Landmann, head of construction department, summarizes the objectives for the CDP process digitization as follows: Avoidance of unnecessary correction loops, establishment of a universal process standard with internationally applicable nomenclature, and a system independence granting the worldwide locations access via SAP or other ERP systems.

Patricia Giller remembers: “The successful implementation of the incoming invoice process has shown, that JobRouter has mastered the challenge of media disruption to SAP excellently and in a time effective way. Based on this experience we developed the CDP process which we implemented with the support of the JobRouter team. Our aim is to reduce also organizational and professional interfaces and downsize processes.” That’s why the project manager is pleased with flexible parameters which make it possible to skip unnecessary matching steps or integrate additional employees into the ongoing process. Meanwhile goods requests are depicted from SAP via JobRouter and orders are initiated automatically.

Alfred Landmann“In the past we performed the processes and releases for our product documentations mainly manually. In mid-2015 we complemented the existing release process and established a CDP process. This was only possible after we became able to display a complete process flow in JobRouter. Since then the status of each instance is visible at any time which leads to a significant time reduction for all sections involved. After one year of CDP processes via JobRouter the great benefit for the company through clear structures and transparency is apparent.”

Alfred Landmann, Manager Engineering Mechanical Design

Success Story / Spheros GmbH / Product design process

Workflow management with reverse

Occasionally it gets clear during the design phase or prototype testing that an electronic component or an assignment does not fit the desired specification or that it has to be modified.

Theoretically this is not a big loss, if we talk about batches of between 200–400 pieces. But this is under no circumstances reconcilable with the quality standards of Spheros. Previously a modification required a complete new start but today JobRouter can go into reverse so that a postprocessing loop with the according releases can be performed in the construction. Thereby the engineers and designers can refer to their experiences from the first try, as each process step is documented and saved in the JobRouter archive system, whether it concerns releases, testing arrangements, design evaluations, release or charge numbers.

Patricia Giller“We want to become better and better and in this we are supported by JobRouter. Our colleagues shall login into JobRouter right in the morning, like they do with Outlook. After establishing the CDP process we turned on some little screws during two rounds of optimization and eliminated single information steps or unnecessary requests. Based on our experiences with the CDP process we created our own ancestor process, the small project order, utilizing SAP and resulting in a CDP process. Locations using a different ERP system can, in case of doubt, make free text entries, and nevertheless the process works perfectly.”

Patricia Tiller, IT project manager for JobRouter and SAP applications

Green light for growth course

Even after the takeover of Spheros by the french supplier group Valeo, the signs for the Spheros growth course are set on green. This is not limited by the freely scalable JobRouter digitization platform neither. Two of four persons from the IT department are programming and supervising the increasing number of processes that are handled via JobRouter. Their goal is that all employees login into the Workflow manager right in the morning. There the colleagues, depending on their authorization role, can get information on the CDP processes or order office supply. With only a few clicks personnel processes like e.g. absence messages can be attended, posts can be required or changes in personnel can be reported.

“We use English as system language” Patricia Giller summarizes. “Individualization is only performed at the most necessary points to keep the supervision expenditures manageable. We still have a lot of ideas for what can be simplified and put into practice by JobRouter. Before the end of the year we will implement a JobRouter interface from the CDP processor to SAP to attach all transaction documentations to the respective material master data. So we will be able to perform clear allocations to new products and component modifications in SAP, too. For our management this is another important step into the direction of transparency and efficiency.”

Success Story / Spheros GmbH / Product design process

Project details

Customer: Spheros GmbH
Sector: Automotive supply industry
Employees: 1,000 employees worldwide
Instances: 1,000 / year
Database: Active Directory
Interfaces: SAP and other ERP systems
Running processes: Ongoing process receipt of invoices, product design / product modification process, small project assignment, goods request, HR process: Absence message, post, new appoointment, changes in personnel
Planned processes: Waiver process, Interface towards SAP for documentations

The advantages of the electronic product design processes

  1. Complex product design and product modification processes can be structured transparently and comprehensibly
  2. Simplified cross-site cooperation and summary of all data and releases in one central project overview
  3. Is based on the clear and flexibly adaptable distribution of roles
  4. Records in sequence revision numbers and saves them comprehensibly
  5. Enables uncomplicated process loops, no reset necessary
  6. Is interface-compatible with all ERPs
About Spheros GmbH

Spheros LogosSpheros GmbH is one of the world market leaders in the climate management segment for omnibuses; core business is the development and manufacturing of motor-independent heating systems, water pumps, air condition systems, and roof hatches for bus companies all over the world. Spheros was founded in 2005 through a management buyout. At this time the former “business unit bus” of the Webasto AG already had more than 60 years of experience in the drive-independent bus air conditioning business. The company is seated in Gilching (Starnberg district). Spheros has a Central European competence center for heating development and production sites in the US, Brazil, Turkey, Finland, India, and China. The company has a worldwide workforce of 1,000 employees. In 2015 the bus climate specialist was awarded the supplier award “Best Professional Supplier” in the “Systems & Solutions” category.
Since 01 April 2016 the Spheros GmbH is part of Valeo, a french automotive supplier group.

© JobRouter AG 2017 / Dok.-Nr. 235 / JobRouter® und SAP® sind eingetragene und geschützte Marken.