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Swiss bathtub specialist Schmidlin relies on the VlexPlus ERP competency in variants

Wilhelm Schmidlin AG is a family run business with around 80 employees, founded in 1947 and specialised in the development and production of top quality steel and enamel baths and shower tubs, shower surfaces and washing stands. The company has state-of-the-art production plants, its own press plant and a new enamelling facility with efficient robotic production lines, conveyer systems and furnaces, opened in 2009.

Initial situation

Outdated system lacking transparency and consistency

Although the existing company software, a hardly maintained 1991 Client-Server based in-house development, was still running and stable, it was unable to meet the growing demands of effectiveness, customer orientation and reliability of supply. The existing system could not offer faster throughput, nor was it able to handle the required number of variants in Production and Sales, which was the reason behind many years of complex workarounds. “The prices and conditions relating to individual variants had to be manually calculated and checked. The transparency and consistency needed for reliable process control was also lacking. The system was not able, for example, to show whether the required raw material had been re-ordered or when it would be in stock again if a member of the Sales staff needed to confirm a delivery deadline to a customer”, says Urs Wullschleger, managing the company together with his brother Beat Wullschleger since 2007.

Decision-making process

Looking for a flexible system, highly competent in the handling of variants

Advantages in use

Improvements in transparency and reliability of supply

Since no system for the control of variant configuration previously existed, every possible variant comprising several articles had previously been compiled. More than 30,000 variants had in this way been stored in the former system. “Since VlexPlus creates only a few base articles with assigned product attributes and specifications in the system, the article master is now clearly organised and easy to maintain. Many processes are furthermore largely automated nowadays, significantly facilitating pricing, procurement, quotations and selling”, states a satisfied Urs Wullschleger. “We are now in a position where we can almost fully define the requirements of our customers in VlexPlus and transfer these to an offer at the touch of a button. The gain in transparency offered by our control cockpits and "Work-in-progress tracking" represents the most important added value for us, since especially our customers will benefit by up to date information and top reliability of supply.”

Trendsetting industry 4.0 solution through incorporation of robotics

Consistent representation of all important processes via VlexPlus also contributes to a massive increase in the reliability of stock information. The ERP system, for instance, has an interface to the enamelling facility Factory Control System (FCS). The FCS monitors all products and orders in an SQL database and has real time links to the Power & Free conveyor system and robotics via programmable logical control (PLC). The order will be printed in data matrix (QR) code via VlexPlus and added to the product. It contains all the relevant product information which will then be combined with the machine data from the linked FCS system and written to an RFID chip when the article is assigned. Starting from this step, the individual products will be automatically conveyed, whereby the specific coating lines and robot programmes for the finishing of the products will be called just-in-time. The FCS will report any change of order status back to VlexPlus via the interface.

Today, 30 employees work with the new system every day. The connection of the external product information management to the VlexPlus system will allow output documents to be available not only in German, but also in English, Italian and French. With QlikSense, a comprehensive business intelligence system has also been introduced. In the area of warehouse logistics, mobile devices with the scanner app are used.

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What the customer says

Wilhelm Schmidlin AG

Our decision was simplified considerably towards the end, since VlexPlus offered not only a state-of-the-art base, independent of technology and platform, but also, to us as a producer of variants, the most mature solution by far – the variant logic is consistent throughout and convenient to use, starting from the structure of the article master, via the associated work steps and designations and down to pricing”, justifies Managing Director Beat Wullschleger (on the left).

Beat and Urs Wullschleger

Beat and Urs Wullschleger

Owner, Managing Director