"The simple connection of PARTsolutions to our PDM system was the decisive selection criteria“

ZF Friedrichshafen relies on CADENAS strategic parts management in the product development

ZF is a global leader in driveline and chassis technology with 121 production companies in 26 countries. ZF is one of the ten largest automotive suppliers worldwide. Since 2005 ZF has been using CADENAS strategic parts management PARTsolutions at 2400 workstations to manage standard and supplier parts.

PARTsolutions allows companies to find CAD components faster and easier, to reduce the new creation of parts and manage them and thus save costs in the long-term. Moreover the system offers access to the 3D CAD data from millions of standard and supplier parts of more than 400 renowned manufacturers' product catalogs.

ZF Friedrichshafen uses PARTsolutions by CADENAS

The initial situation at ZF

Until 2005 there was now special system at ZF to manage parts in use. Only standard parts were stored in a so called Standard LIP database, which was only useable in combination with the CAD program PTC Pro/E and not with the second strategic system CATIA. This resulted in a high amount of newly created parts, entailing cost of approx. 1000 Euros per part.Christian Salhi, responsible for computer sciences and information technology at ZF summarizes the requirements to the new system as follows:

"It was important to us that the parts are no longer obtained from somewhere on the internet, since this involves substantial problems for the whole company. Because as soon as one designer would look for a certain cylinder, he would create a new number for it. This way a myriad of costly duplicate copies were created in the course of time."

Besides the improved clarity the new parts management system was also supposed to show performance in the compatibility section:

"A crucial point to us was the connection with our existing Axalant product management system. Besides saving and managing all our documents, product CAD data, etc. the PDM is also an interface for our SAP system. Therefore it was mandatory that the new strategic parts management system could be linked with our PDM system", says Salhi.

Strategic Partsmanagement PARTsolutions helps saving time and costs

CADENAS specific solution: Strategic parts management PARTsolutions

Eventually CADENAS strategic parts management PARTsolutions was chosen. The decisive factors were the high compatibility to the existing system, the functionality of managing and searching for the parts. Especially the possibility to look at individual parts before downloading them with a rotatable 3D model, led to a considerable saving of time. The combination of the broad catalog selection and the different search functions where parts can be compared topologically or can be identified per sketch or full-text search, reduces the workload significantly. The system is mainly used for working with CAD designs. Especially in the field of equipment design where a lot of supplier parts are in use. Altogether ZF holds 2400 licenses, so basically every CAD user has the possibility to use PARTsolutions.

Integration into the ZF system environment 

Besides linking the parts management system to the existing PDM system, the integration requires an individual adjustment to the needs of the single departments: "Internally we particulary have very different approaches. For instance the requirements in the product development, where gear units and axes are planned, are very different from the traditional mechanical engineering and fixture construction. In product development we use for instance the PARTeditor and PARTproject to create our own native catalogs. Another issue was the adjustment to our second PDM system. A few years ago we integrated a subgroup that does not work with Axalant but with PTC's PDM Link. But this adjustment was also handled successfully and has been working perfectly ever since.", says Salhi.

Avoiding cost intensive dubletts with PARTsolutions

Jointly planned projects

After ZF has successfully carried out a release change from PARTsolutions version 8.1 to version 9.05, many other activities are already planned. For better representation of the native catalogs they will be converted from the previous SDL data format to the newer JT representation. For this there is already a limited introduction/implementation of the PARTsolutions version 9.07 in the ZF plant in Schweinfurt.

"An upcoming project will be the improved distribution of catalogs over our internal ZF synchronization process at the individual ZF production sites. Here we rely on CADENAS' application server, released in 2014", Sahli explains. The application server of 2014 makes it possible to detain catalog data and automatically hand it over to the respective clients. This way there it is no longer necessary to detain the extensive catalogs locally at the respective production sites, which allows a higher performance of the complete system.

Conclusion: Improvements and optimizations at ZF by using PARTsolutions

The experience with the introduction of PARTsolutions Sahli summarizes as follows: "At big companies like ZF you need a certain amount of time until the new applications are completely implemented. The key user training with CADENAS contributed alot to accelerate this process and there was also a lot of positive feedback about it. Meanwhile the employees have also taken on well the strategic parts management. Especially the possibility to search visually for specific parts in the PARTsolutions PARTdataManager was a very welcome improvement to our previous PDM system. Although we still have the need to reduce our component diversity, the multiplication of parts has significantly decreased since the introduction of PARTsolutions.

"Altogether ZF recorded a considerable loss of costly duplicate copies. Due to the improved search functionality, the 3D view and the simple export of catalog data into the 3D CAD environment, ZF profits from a noticeably accelerated component development.

For more information about the strategic parts management system PARTsolutions, please visit: www.cadenas.de/strategic-partsmanagement


ZF Friedrichshafen AG

ZF is a global leader in driveline and chassis technology with 121 production companies in 26 countries. In 2012, the Group achieved a sales figure of presumably EUR 17.4 billion with 75.000 employees. ZF is among the top 10 companies on the ranking list of the largest automotive suppliers worldwide.

The company was founded in 1915 for the development and production of transmissions for airships and vehicles. Today, the group's product range comprises transmissions and steering systems as well as chassis components and complete axle systems and modules. As stockholders, the Zeppelin Foundation - which is administered by the City of Friedrichshafen - holds 93.8 percent and the Dr. Jürgen and Irmgard Ulderup Foundation Lemförde holds 6.2 percent of shares.

The ZF Group invests about 5 percent (2012: EUR 861 million) of total revenue in research and development every year. In order to further strengthen and expand ZF's position, the Group will invest over EUR one billion also in the years to come.

Key figures:

  • Revenue: 17.4 billion Euros (2012)

  • Workforce:about 75.000

  • Investment: More than 1 billion Euros (2013)

  • R&D expenses (2012): 861 million Euros

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