Poclain Hydraulics customer testimonial: Improving the advanced studies process to bring more value to customers
Poclain Hydraulics is an international group specializing in the design, manufacture, and marketing of hydrostatic and electrohydraulic transmissions.
The company employs over 2,200 people in 8 plants on 3 continents, 18 sales subsidiaries and 6 R&D centers. It is recognized for its expertise and sense of innovation by leading manufacturers in numerous markets, notably public works, and agriculture.
Poclain Hydraulics places innovation at the heart of its DNA, and is actively involved not only in the development of new products, but also in the continuous search for new technological advances, known as advanced studies. Advanced studies involve the development of technological tools with the aim of identifying and overcoming potential obstacles to product development. They focus on technical and technological advances likely to provide added value to products.
Find out from Luciano Di Fabrizio, R&D Efficiency Director at Poclain Hydraulics, how IDhall supports the advanced studies process by facilitating collaborative work between several sites worldwide.
The Poclain Hydraulics challenge
From 1985 to the 2000s, the company was a single-product business, concentrating its R&D activity mainly on a single site. In those days, only two or three people were involved in advanced studies.
Since the 2000s, the company has expanded its product offering to include hydraulic pumps, hydraulic valves, electronics and much more. Over the years, the company has developed a highly sophisticated product development process. The introduction of new products has led it to deploy its research and development activity at several sites around the world, such as Slovenia, Slovakia, the USA… In 2019, the company has also drawn up a new strategic plan that has set a new course for this multi-product offering for the years to come.
As part of this new strategic plan, the company has endeavored to link its advanced studies to its recently established strategic program, with the main aim of bringing value to its customers more quickly.
A fundamental objective: improve the advanced studies process and bring more value to customers
As part of this effort to improve the advanced studies process, the aim is to go beyond efficiency by establishing simplified processes, to ultimately deliver greater value to customers. Several observations have been made.
Firstly, R&D lacked clear information on the origin of the request and the expected results of certain advanced studies, which could lead to difficulties when carrying out the studies.
In addition, there was a lack of formal capitalization of the results of advanced studies. Follow-up was based on a multitude of documents, with no clear summary document, making it difficult to understand the results. It was therefore necessary to centralize information from the studies to make it easier for other people interested in the subject to take up the information.
Finally, the average duration of advanced studies was indeterminate. The fact that studies had no specific duration meant that projects could be delayed or extended excessively.
These identified problems were generating redundant work, delays and difficulties in project execution. Luciano Di Fabrizio began by working on the advanced studies process, creating key indicators to track. These included a celerity indicator to monitor the progress of projects, and an efficiency indicator to track the re-use of advanced study results in the product development process. Finally, an alignment indicator has also been designed to ensure that the advanced studies carried out are consistent with the strategic plan.
Implementing the IDhall solution
After launching the process with solutions such as Excel spreadsheets and Windows folders, Luciano Di Fabrizio was able to test IDhall in December 2021 and quickly saw how flexible the platform was for driving the advanced studies process.
The tool used had to be collaborative and adaptable to an international, multi-site context. It also had to be possible for any person involved in the process to connect to it from anywhere, and not fall into Gantt excess. The company was looking for a simple tool that could be modulated at will, and that would enable a study to be followed from its initial request right through to the end of the project, while also being able to attach or store capitalization links.
Benefits for the advanced studies management
After sixteen months in use, Luciano Di Fabrizio’s feedback on the IDhall solution is very positive. As the application is sufficiently intuitive, one hour’s practical training in handling the platform was enough to train the twenty or so pilots in charge of carrying out advanced studies.
The tool enables him to track the celerity indicator thought up during the upstream process, and he is now seeing a halving of the execution time for advanced studies compared with his target of three, and an execution three times faster than the 2015 to 2020 period. He can also easily collect the information needed to monitor the efficiency indicator, which measures the reuse of study results, and the alignment indicator, which ensures that studies are consistent with Poclain Hydraulics’ strategic plan.
Luciano was quick to adopt the tool and adapt it to his process. Indeed, the company uses TRLs (Technological Readiness Levels) as a key measure to assess the level of maturity of their advanced studies technologies. Beyond TRL 6, the company can move on to product development. Teams can easily identify these TRLs and thus the maturity of their research.
Each completed study has two deliverables attached. The first provides a summary of the project, while the second describes the study results in greater detail. In this way, the tool helps to capitalize on a clear, easily consultable summary.
Today, no fewer than 240 users at Poclain Hydraulics rely on the platform to monitor advanced studies. In addition to the fifty or so people who actively use the platform for management purposes, other teams such as marketing and product management also use it. They can easily consult the status of studies and comments on progress, which helps them to anticipate the future of their product portfolio.