Alfa Laval

Alfa Laval introduced a new, highly innovative product that created an opportunity for additional updates
tretton37 and Alfa Laval worked closely together to design and build a future-proof document handling solution
Alfa Laval has an efficient and scalable solution that supports long term business goals

Seamless order information flow supports Alfa Laval's automation goals

Challenge

To create a new product with updated architecture and automation capabilities

Alfa Laval is a global leader in heat transfer, separation, and fluid handling technologies. 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 with an updated product architecture. The product was introduced in a new “on-line” configurator. 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.

The configurator also had an order sending capability so that the configured products could easily be sent from sales to the Alfa Laval supply units. To support the new order flow, a new document handler was introduced to the affected 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 so the Order Flow Team was created with members from tretton37, a proven IT partner at Alfa Laval, to design and develop a new future-proof document handler.

"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 from Alfa Laval.

Solution

Implement a Microsoft Azure architecture to increase agility, storage, and processing power

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 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.

Result

The new document handler enabled common ways of working and increased flexibility for future digitalization

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 good for 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, 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 from tretton37..

Christian Tallhamn
Business Development Manager

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