Refreshing product design at LU-VE
Digitalization and standardization provide a cool blast of product design innovation
Manufacturers face a new world where digital technologies are expected to drive all kinds of products. As industrial products and appliances become smarter, companies need to change their design approach. In the future, the market will expect products (such as refrigeration installations or air conditioning systems), to do more —even interact with users. High-end industrial companies are increasingly focused on continuously improving the quality of products and components, as well as standardizing production processes and products. To do so, they need more fluid business processes, up-to-date technologies, agile development and continuous innovation to reinvent products and services that serve changing markets.
LU-VE Group, the world's third largest manufacturer in the air heat exchanger field (listed on the Milan Stock Exchange - MTA), was looking for new solutions to standardize design processes and production (refrigeration, process cooling and air conditioning) across 16 manufacturing sites in nine countries. LU-VE grew at a fast pace and required better, centralized control of design processes and tools to support collaborative design. In particular, it needed to improve coordination among different plants and technical offices around the world in order to avoid redundancies and speed products to market.
To top it off, LU-VE had acquired new companies, adding product design processes to the complexity of integration. It needed a new model to manage collaborative design and increase product standardization so it could use modular production processes at all plants around the world.
"By teaming with Accenture, we started running an end-to-end digital transformation journey. Now, LU-VE Group designs all products in 3D, using standardized processes. This helps us meet the end-customer's specifications."
LU-VE Group collaborated with Accenture to transform product design with centralized processes and digital tools. The Industry X Digital Service Factory operating model helped accelerate digital transformation with a customizable set of end-to-end digital execution capabilities to identify, design, develop, test, pilot and launch new digital products and services. Our transformation work spanned strategy, organizational and process design, systems integration, cloud infrastructure and application maintenance.
At the Accenture Customer Innovation Network in Milan, the team identified strategic ideas to tackle LU-VE's digital transformation journey. As part of the journey, we created a centralized process model and helped select and configure a product lifecycle management (PLM) solution, based on Siemens Teamcenter, to be used across Italy, China, Czech Republic, Finland, India, Poland, Russia, Sweden and USA. With the new processes and solutions, LU-VE can share product data across all company divisions and business units. It has also changed its design methodology from 2D to 3D. LU-VE is extending the system to the sales department and plans to do so in procurement and production.
In addition to digitalizing LU-VE's PLM processes, the team simplified its IT infrastructure. LU-VE previously had its infrastructure in third-party data centers, which caused problems with system performance, data loss and business continuity. We helped migrate its entire IT architecture, including the Siemens Teamcenter solution and SAP enterprise resource planning system, onto an AWS cloud infrastructure and continue to manage the network. The migration is helping LU-VE attain its goal of moving to a systems-as-a-service model.
"The new modular production processes allow our plants around the world to have a more flexible and competitive approach, which is increasingly important in a fast-changing world and market."
The solution and processes are helping LU-VE Group to apply new ways of working across product design globally. Employees working on a design can check the system for comparable products elsewhere at the company, rather than rely on traditional systems. Thanks to improved visibility, designers can reuse or adapt components from colleagues around the world—called carryover—taking advantage of a range of expertise. It now uses a centralized engineering team to design common, innovative products with local engineers to make them more market-relevant and competitive.
The new capabilities also improved LU-VE Group's efficiency in serving its markets. The company's customers are contractors and installers, so it follows their requirements and specifications to fulfil the end users' needs. Often, LU-VE's machines are part of a larger ecosystem.
People were trained on the new design processes (particularly collaboration processes) and system.
With new streamlined, standardized tools and processes, LU-VE's designers can focus on installers' and customers' needs to provide a high-quality product. Design engineers can also collaborate more closely with sales on installer and end-customer specifications and needs. In turn, the sales team can share technical information and 3D models with installers through the entire process.
Throughout the project, Accenture worked as an extension of LU-VE, contributing to project management as well as new skills and coaching.
Thanks to greater design standardization, consistency and controls, LU-VE is improving product quality, efficiency and time-to-market. LU-VE was recently named by "Istituto Tedesco Qualità e Finanza (ITQF)" as one of the 350 Italian Digital Stars of 2020 in the mechanical industry.
Design engineers no longer need to spend significant time creating the ad hoc models or locating relevant components. Now, they can focus on contractor and installer requirements, meeting the end-customer's specifications, and cultivating collaborative business relationships to provide high-end products and solutions. With new, modular production processes, LU-VE's plants around the world can adopt more flexible and competitive manufacturing approaches. The order acquisition process also allows LU-VE to identify the best plant for production in order to optimize shipping costs and delivery time. It can also select factories best able to manufacture products quickly or respond to market disruption, such as avoiding production in countries facing strict pandemic restrictions.
Lower costs by reducing change orders and increasing carryover with the new processes and solutions.
The data gathered from the system can be analyzed to further enhance design engineering processes. The system's increased scalability and flexibility are helping LU-VE integrate its recently acquired companies.
LU-VE now has a strong foundation to expand digitalization to other areas of the business, such as sourcing materials or production and pricing. The new approach also represents the first step in creating new services for interconnected products or digital twins.