Creating QA-relevant documents easily, fast, and securely: SAP-integrated and seamlessly embedded in the change service

In 2014, a leading company in crushing and screening technology wanted to optimize its processes in the creation of QA-relevant documents, for the inspection drawings were still being stamped and scanned by hand, and the inspection plans created with Excel and stored in special folders. This meant a lot of work, hampered the finding of valid documents, and thus jeopardized process security. Therefore, for product development and quality assurance at the company headquarters, the small-series manufacturer wanted a digital, fully-integrated solution – on the basis of the existing SAP system. The first step in this direction was to plan a project with the following objectives:

  • Management of QA-relevant documents using the SAP system
  • Automatic generation of inspection drawings and inspection plans
  • Integration of QA-relevant documents in change service
  • Creation of prerequisites for integration in SAP QM
Well equipped for the launch

Of great benefit for the project: in product development, Siemens NX was already integrated in SAP PLM – with Engineering Control Center (ECTR) and SAP PLM Integration for NX from DSC. This meant that the creation of models and drawings was already SAP-based – and integrated in the change service. So not only did all CAD documents automatically flow into the SAP system: the change statuses of the components were also transparently documented and stored, by means of material revisions with the respective change number. Further benefits were provided by the DSC module ++batchEngine, which automates all kinds of documents and converts them under workflow control into any desired target format. Thus the construction equipment manufacturer had long been generating neutral formats for drawings, exchange formats for 3D models, and PDF files for MS Office documents.

Concerted action with a strong team

To form the project team, experts at DSC Software AG joined forces with those at neoapps GmbH. Together they produced a feasibility analysis and specified the solution with a definition of responsibilities. The solution was implemented in separate DSC and neoapps packages. DSC’s partner neoapps supplied the software for processing inspection drawings and creating inspection plans, plus software for the automatic feature stamping of NX drawings as well as the automatic generation of revision comparison documents for the change documentation. Within the framework of the project, neoapps connected its own software to ECTR and made customer-specific adjustments to the stamping software. DSC’s contribution ranged from the already mentioned analysis and specification to development and implementation to operation and go-live support.

All basic processes into the system

Users should be able to create and edit QA-relevant documents very easily using the intuitive ECTR user interface. For this purpose, the following basic processes had to be mapped in ECTR: 1. Creating a stamp document (inspection plan basis document with stamping information) – based on the predecessor version if available; 2. Using the new and old inspection plan basis document to generate a revision comparison document (with changed, deleted, and new features colored and listed in tables); 3. In the inspection plan creation, automatically loading not just the inspection plan basis document but also the PDF file of the drawing concerned. These are the services supplied by DSC for this:

  • Implementation concept for mapping the basic processes in ECTR
  • Integration of relevant neoapps components in the ++batchEngine module
  • Process implementation in ++batchEngine and on the ECTR clients
  • Creation of initial stamp documents for released drawings
Tricky adaptation in change management

The construction equipment manufacturer has always documented change statuses of parts and their documents in material revisions. So far it has been the case that if a document is changed, the material revision is automatically incremented – and with it the change number too. Using the joint change number, it was always easy to find all documents of a change status. However, the customer also wanted to be able to change the SAP-integrated inspection plans without the material revision being incremented. Not least in order to be able to create new inspection plan versions for older components that were still being produced. Nevertheless, the inspection plans should still be retrievable using the latest change number of the respective component. To meet this ambitions wish, DSC developed a customer-specific data model and modified the existing change process. The result: as long as the automatically generated inspection plan basis document is attached to the 3D model as a non-master document, the inspection plan is a master document. It can be versioned independently of drawing, 3D model and material revision. The first inspection plan version is automatically assigned after release to the change number of the respective revision of the component concerned. When a new inspection plan version is released, the previously assigned inspection plan version is automatically replaced by the new one.

Perfect solution for day-to-day business

Thanks to integration, the QA-relevant documents can now be very easily created using ECTR, as well as managed and optimized directly in the neoapps software. Moreover, a lot takes place automatically – including the storage of the documents in the SAP system. And this is how it works:

  1. If the user releases a new drawing version in ECTR, the system automatically generates a new version of the stamp document (inspection plan basis document) as well as a revision comparison document.
  2. If the user creates an inspection plan in ECTR, the corresponding neoapps software opens with the stamp document and its PDF drawing. Features, tolerances, and stamps can be edited.
  3. If the user stores an inspection plan, the system attaches the stamped PDF drawing and an automatically generated Excel feature list (with intended dimensions and tolerances) to the inspection plan basis document.
  4. If the user releases an inspection plan, an ECTR automatism copies the current statuses of the stamped PDF drawing plus Excel feature list from the inspection plan basis document directly into the inspection plan.
Solid foundation for further steps

With this new solution, the construction equipment manufacturer can now create and manage QA-relevant documents without great effort: transparently, revision-related and logically linked. Due to integration in the change service, a maximum of process security is to be expected. And thanks to storage in the SAP system, the currently valid inspection plans can be retrieved company-wide – including Quality Assurance. Furthermore, they can be sent automatically with relevant drawings to suppliers, who can then conduct the inspections. All in all, the best prerequisites for die medium-term planned integration in SAP QM.

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DSC Software AG
Am Sandfeld 17
76149 Karlsruhe | Germany

Phone: +49 721 9774-100
Fax: +49 721 9774-101