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Logo Power Hydraulics

PDM Success Story:

Our move toward digitization is already paying off several times over.

Control block

Control block

Power hydraulics

Products for more hydraulic power

POWER-HYDRAULIK, located in Sulz am Neckar, Germany, is a manufacturer of hydraulic controls, flow dividers, compact power units and electronic controls.

With around 90 employees, in-house production and assembly, the company supplies many different industries. The products are used in agricultural and construction machinery, in municipal technology and in
stationary machines, as well as in a wide range of special applications.

Founded in 1977, the company develops and designs all products individually to meet the wide range of customer requirements….

Once upon a time: Microsoft Explorer

In earlier years, when only one and then two designers were able to cover the design requirements, a directory structure on the Explorer was used and, if necessary, agreements were made. Until then – the
company grew – more designers and developers were added. In addition, DHWB students support the design department from time to time. The old system from Explorer and the agreements were no longer up to date.

The goal: digitization in construction

With some product requests from adjacent departments that went beyond actual product data management, the two project managers at the Sulzer company set out to find a suitable PDM system in the spring of 2019. And already here GAIN Collaboration could convince with some points.

Dieter Kramer, project manager and design engineer at POWER-HYDRAULIK: “On the one hand, GAIN Collaboration offers excellent or deep interface connections with extensive functionalities and intuitive operation. Furthermore, it offers many customization possibilities to our company requirements or structures. We realized early on that GAIN Collaboration would be a good and relatively easy way to achieve our goals. Among other things, mapping our established processes.

Some alternative PDM systems we looked at were not convincing. Too complex for our needs; the cost and administrative burden would be too high. The limited capabilities of other interface solutions didn’t inspire either.”

Wish list: The specifications

After a detailed presentation of the PDM system, the various requirements for the PDM system were written down in a requirements specification in a workshop.
First of all roughly, and in the further in cooperation with GAIN Software gradually finer and finer. Thus, the requirements gradually became more concrete:

  • File management of Inventor and AutoCAD documents, as well as product-related documents in the form of MS Office documents, images and PDF files in GAIN Collaboration.
  • The possibility of creating digital offer folders in which accompanying documents can be collected.
  • The possibility of converting the present offer folder into an article folder by means of a function in the PDM system.
  • Product classification / property characteristics list: Transfer of existing data/classes for various product groups from an existing ERP system.
  • Digital change management: Creation of change requests from the respective article folders via number generator and a defined workflow by individual departments.

Test phase

The goal of the extensive testing phase was to learn about and test various processes and ways of working in GAIN Collaboration. For this purpose, various Inventor and AutoCAD files were imported or migrated into the PDM system.

The key users defined for the test phase were primarily design engineers and, subsequently, employees from sales and work preparation.

Dieter Kramer: “A test phase before the actual go-live was very important to us right from the start. Also from our experience with other software products. With the key users selected, we had the essential points covered. This enabled us to counteract certain imponderables in the go-live from the outset.”

Structured migration thanks to migration tools

About 35,000 data sets ultimately had to be imported into GAIN Collaboration before the go-live, the activation of the PDM system.

Dieter Kramer: “At this point we were able to work very closely and well with GAIN Software. We had made the data to be imported available, partly in stages, via a cloud and an external hard drive.

GAIN Software technicians then mapped our data to the appropriate fields using their migration tools. What stands out here is the excellent quality in which we ultimately found our data in GAIN Collaboration.”

Dagmar Küdde, a member of the design team, adds: “In addition, GAIN Software imported our articles from our ERP system into GAIN Collaboration and created article folders there.

In the subsequent import of the classifications, the articles were linked to their documents including the associated classes and the characteristic values were written to the document records. This saved us weeks of manual labor.”

Training in 2 days

Within two days, 7 users from design, development, work preparation, purchasing and technical sales were trained. Dagmar Küdde: “With a little more or less start-up assistance, all employees found a good introduction to our new PDM system. We were able to answer any unanswered questions from users of the system well as key users.”

Further steps towards the digitization of design

Digital manufacturing and assembly documents

Kramer: “In the past, we still worked a lot with paper forms and agreements among ourselves. Now we have clearly taken another big step in the direction of digitization. And that’s already paying off several times over.”

Workflows for reduced lead times

For the change management, the appropriate workflow for POWER-HYDRAULIK could now be set up with GAIN Collaboration. “For the changes, we now have the procedure from before, when we were still working with paper, in the PDM system. This went and still goes through many departments in our company, down to programming, work preparation, purchasing and so on. This significantly shortens the lead time through the company,” says Dagmar Küdde. And further: “We are excited about the realization of this workflow in GAIN Collaboration. In the near future, we plan to launch another workflow for our purchased parts.”

Search & Find without borders

Finding specific parts quickly has always been an important issue for POWER-HYDRAULIK employees. In terms of search and find, SAP was not convincing here. GAIN Collaboration, on the other hand, with its powerful search tools, enables very specialized searches. Dagmar Küdde: “You can already search the system in several ways in the standard. As individually pleases each. Now, with the additional classification add-on module, there really is nothing left to be desired.”

Convert offers into articles

GAIN Collaboration documents offers in digital offer folders, so-called containers. In this can be summarized quotation drawings, as well as accompanying documents.

Dieter Kramer: “This offer folder was a very important and good point that we could implement in the system. Previously, we had to scan everything that was in the sheet. And these are not only production documents, but everything that belongs to a process. With regard to quality management, we also have to store all these processes or provide evidence of them for years. The simple documentation option in the PDM system saves us a lot of time every day.

In the order, we simply convert this quote folder into an item folder. We assign an item number in the system and so we continued the process saving time. More or less a small product life cycle, which allows a quick and high-quality statement and also gives us an optimal overview in case of complaints.

Because there you can see very quickly how many changes have been made. And also quickly finds any attached ancillary documents. Statements and data quality have improved significantly in this respect.”


The classification of product data plays an important role at POWER-HYDRAULIK. The features of individual control block tools and accessories are too varied for them to be worked with efficiently without appropriate classification.

Classifications were already used in the previously used ERP system Infor:NT. Now this part is applied solely via the “Classification” extension in GAIN Collaboration.

Dieter Kramer: “Today, we can flexibly search up to 9 subject features in six classes. From individual product groups to tool data. This benefits not least our sales department for the calculation of new parts and the search for existing products. Or also for specifying similar blocks as reference in quotations.

Now that we wanted to unify this issue, GAIN Software advised us extensively on the use of subject characteristics in general, independent of the software. It’s usually a balancing act with the topic of classification. How many fields do you set up, what are the benefits and what is the cost-benefit analysis? In the end, we adopted the feature system largely as we had it originally. It’s just that we’re considerably faster now.”

Let’s take a look: Documentation and overview

Today, POWER-HYDRAULIK consistently manages all data related to the development or changes of a customer project in the PDM system.

“This is primarily data from Autodesk Inventor or AutoCAD. In addition, neutral files such as PDFs documenting data sheets or releases. We also record correspondence and e-mails in this way. This type of documentation is profitable,” says Kramer.

GAIN Software: Please Support

Dagmar Küdde: “We find the response times in GAIN Software’s support to be exceptionally good. Especially in the software industry. Our questions were always answered competently and predominantly at short notice. The discussions with our contacts from technology and sales are collegial, almost friendly.”

One year after the introduction

After a good year of cross-departmental use, all employees are happy to be supported by GAIN Collaboration.

Dagmar Küdde: “You quickly find what you are looking for. GAIN Collaboration offers a clear interface and the operation is also intuitive. The system has settled in well for us and is running stably, without any crashes.”

Dieter Kramer adds: “Positive feedback from my side as well. I like working with GAIN Collaboration. The investment in this flexible system has paid off in any case. We are also well prepared for the future, since the system is expandable. That’s where we’ll definitely integrate more later, which will increase our productivity.”