ABB, headquartered in Zurich, Switzerland, has been a technology pioneer for more than 130 years. Today, its technologies are found throughout multiple manufacturing industry sectors, as well as utilities, transportation and infrastructure. Operating in more than 100 countries, ABB’s 132,000 employees design, manufacture, deliver, install and maintain technology-based solutions that are supporting the digital transformation taking place throughout industries and companies.
ABB’s digitally connected and enabled industrial equipment and systems are transforming companies in multiple ways. ABB’s Electrification Products Division has been pursuing its own transformation journey focused on its products, approaches and associated processes. This $9.9 billion division of ABB is responsible for the full lifecycle of technologies that support and enable the complete electrical value chain from substation to the point of consumption. Each segment of this value chain—digital and connected devices for low- and medium-voltage applications, solar inverters, modular substations, distribution automation, power protection, wiring accessories, switchgear, enclosures, cabling, sensing and control—is a highly configurable product.
ABB’s four divisions have been using various configuration solutions for decades, primarily home-grown solutions and spreadsheets. As ABB’s products became more complex and multi-dimensional, these solutions have proven to be cumbersome to both use and support.
With a distributed IT landscape containing different ERP systems in every country, keeping configuration rules and data in sync from the producing units to all the sales units around the world was very challenging. Outdated configuration technologies, only maintained in engineering/manufacturing hubs, made it difficult to build efficient, valid and correct configurators in front-end organizations for sales. The result was unaligned workflows, time-consuming quotations and order processes, and too many costly errors.
Working with Configit’s solutions, ABB’s Electrification Product Division (ABB EP) now provides a web-based, responsive sales configuration tool for its products and applications. Using Configit solutions, ABB EP established a global, central configuration platform from which they could build front-end configurators for local sales units in multiple countries. Key process indicators include savings from reduced efforts related to BOM creation and BOM error corrections across all call centers, increased productivity, reduced catalog and price list printing costs, increased customer self-service, and improved technology management. Overall, ABB EP achieved a return on investment of more than 75%.
Building an implementation team and process, including both a software service provider (Infosys) and the technology provider (Configit), helped to ensure ABB EP would have adequate resources to support a wide implementation scope and a robust implementation process while managing implementation costs.
Assembling a cross-functional team early in the process to develop requirements, vet vendors, and review proposals and proofs of concept enabled ABB EP to ensure that all requirements of the business would be met and that the ultimate solution was one that could be scaled and repeated across markets to benefit not only marketing and sales but other functions as well.
Moving to Configit enabled ABB EP to establish a consistent and automated way to manage its product and pricing data with sales configuration rules for multiple sales organizations improving the quality and efficiency of the sales quoting and order processes. Key benefits of the project include:
- Increased productivity. ABB EP was able to automate much of the bill of materials (BOM) creation and correction process while reducing the possibility of errors or omissions across the product lifecycle, saving time for engineers and sales people.
- Increased sales. An accelerated quoting process enabled ABB EP to capture more business from its competitors.
- Reduced printing costs. ABB EP was able to eliminate the costly process of printing and distributing parts catalogs on a regular basis.
- Increased customer self-service. ABB EP was able to reduce calls to contact centers based on the paper catalogs as customers could better navigate and utilize the online catalogs by themselves.
- Improved technology management. Moving to one consistent platform enabled the division to redeploy IT staff that had previously been required to support the exchange of data between different systems and applications.