How is PDM University doing

ROTRING DATA has been keytech's exclusive partner for Switzerland since 2013. In this context, we regularly bring articles about the modern PLM / DMS solution from keytech. In March 2019, Frank Schlupp, Managing Director, keytech Süd GmbH, answered questions from Thomas Löffler, an independent specialist journalist from Balingen. We are pleased to publish the conversation here. Incidentally, Frank Schlupp will also be a guest speaker at the technology conference on May 22, 2019 on the Niesen.


The changes brought about by Industry 4.0, IoT and increasing digitization can be felt everywhere. Now is the time to start thinking about a future PLM strategy. Keywords such as “digital twin, 3D master, SMART products, model-based system engineering, workflow management” etc. go in this direction and signal the requirements of the coming years. Many companies with classic PDM systems, such as PSP or MaxxDB, are currently asking themselves the question: is the previous solution equipped for the future? Frank Schlupp is someone who has known and supported the CAD / CAM / PLM market for decades. The mechanical engineer began his career 28 years ago in the CAD / ME10 / SOLIDWORKS environment. For more than seven years he has been successfully managing keytech Süd GmbH in Sulz as managing partner. With his extensive experience from numerous projects, he has interesting answers to these and other questions.

In the Inventor environment you can still find designers who work with a PDM such as PSP or MaxxDB instead of a PLM system. What reasons do you see for this?
“That depends on various factors, in particular on the requirements and goals in the company. Those who only need basic functions in the area of ​​PDM can use it to manage their CAD documents safely and effectively. This is comparable to household requirements. If you only need a mixer at the moment, you don't buy a multifunctional device straight away. The respective benefit controls the demand. However, the changes in connection with Industry 4.0 make it necessary to consider the possible perspectives. A continuous digital development process will be the basis for ensuring competitiveness in the future. Of course, the price is also a criterion. A PLM system is more complex at the beginning than a PDM system, but the amortization is exponential in the further course. The initial investment hurdle still sometimes prevents the necessary step. However, all of our “switchers” confirm that a little courage is worthwhile. The later additional benefit is so great that nobody wants their "old" system back. "

What do you think a sustainable PLM system has to do today?
“Basically, it has to be able to manage all information in a product creation process as well as a product life cycle. It starts with the fact that we are increasingly finding multi-CAD environments where different CAD formats flow together in a PLM system. Often the whole thing even takes place in parallel at distributed locations. A bidirectional interface to an ERP system and an article-based parts list are essential. Standardized processes for release and change management are just as necessary as support in the area of ​​requirements management. Real "Product Lifecycle Management" also requires efficient document management. Controlled documents, workflow management and role-based, secure access are PLM standards here. Complete résumé files are the goal. From the first idea to the acceptance and beyond to the service: Everything is centrally available in one place. "

How crucial are the respective CAD interfaces to the PLM system?
“A PLM system is only as good as it can map the functionalities of the CAD systems. Simply filling in the header is no longer enough. Comprehensive multilingual skills are more of a factor here. Globalization forces us to produce correct documents in many languages. The creation process goes from the raw part to the semi-finished product to the finished article. These stages of development should be mapped in a PLM system. SOLIDWORKS and Inventor bring these functions with them as tools and the PLM system should follow this seamlessly. Configurations should be implemented on an article basis. These and similar functions are offered by every CAD system today. There are also other CAD options that modern companies have consistently mapped in PLM. "

How important are standards and project-specific adjustments?
“Standards are important. The closer one orientates oneself to the standard, the easier it is to implement and sustainably update each system. In practice, however, there are justified deviations that can be traced back to company-specific requirements. A keytech environment, which is based on proven practical solutions from many projects, offers a "de facto PLM standard" in order to be successful with the system quickly. All other configurations or adjustments can be based on this standard and the system grows with the requirements. Think big and start small is the keytech motto here! "

What use would PSP and MaxxDB users have, especially in storing general documents in keytech?
“Separating DMS and PLM no longer makes sense in today's highly networked world. All documents for an operation or process belong together. In addition to the construction data, a project also includes the inquiry, the offer, the calculation and various calculations. Contracts, e-mails, material and batch papers, certificates, etc. - all of this must be recorded centrally and made available to everyone involved according to their authorization. Service orders are recorded digitally and linked to the article and the serial number. Only in this way can planned changes achieve their maximum effect. Electronic folder objects are used for this in order to represent this accordingly. Templates help to easily implement repetitive processes without great effort. All documents are safe in the vault and the necessary access is consistently monitored. This gives us the basis for a possible validation or certification. Some customers, especially from the medical technology sector, have successfully implemented this. "

Do your customers also get solutions for automated server processes such as the generation of neutral formats?
“Server processes are a matter of course in PLM today. Neutral formats or the automated generation of PDF, DXF, 3D PDF etc. are standard. In the future, neutral formats with embedded documents and metadata - as is already possible in 3D PDF - will be increasingly used. It is up to the PLM system to generate these from all sources. What sets keytech apart is the scalability that is needed to process large orders quickly. This works right up to automated print jobs that print all approved drawings from an assembly. There is also a stamp function to mark further information. The list of other processes is long. One of the most important is the interface to the ERP system, but fingerprint generation for the geometric search as well as the transfer of data and documents to the electronic spare parts system tend to become more and more important. "

What role does the possibility of exchanging data via WebService and offering programming functions with WebAPI play for you?
“New adjustments and interfaces are almost exclusively made using this technology. This means that, depending on the task at hand, different web interfaces or apps can be designed, which precisely cover the requirements of the user. Furthermore, partner applications can also be implemented directly by the partner themselves, which then communicate directly with keytech. Access to the entire database protected by role-based rules and full support for all functions are our standard here. Web service interfaces are now becoming the industry standard. keytech uses the RESTful WebServices based on the JSON data format. A PDM or PLM without these standards will not find it easy to survive in the long term. "

Does keytech have a data transfer strategy for PSP and MaxxDB users?
“Yes, there are. For MaxxDB users, we even have two data transfer solutions. For small and medium-sized customers, we prefer a complete data transfer. After careful analysis of the data, the data is transferred to keytech at a defined point in time and from then on only the new system is used. The second variant is aimed at companies with very large amounts of data.

Here we use the coexistence of both systems for a certain period of time. This means that a gentle changeover can take place over several months. For both ways we have examples from customers who can look back on a successful data transfer. "

How many customers have you accompanied with this changeover and what were their motives?
“Over 2,500 designers who previously worked with the PDM PSP or MaxxDB have been relying on keytech PLM for some time. The reasons are complex. On the one hand, as already mentioned, there are the requirements for a modern PLM system. Then there is security about the continued existence of a system, as can be seen in the example of PSP. PSP has definitely not been supported by the manufacturer since 1.1.2018. In the end, every single customer is about the benefit. This has to be worked out and implemented. The many successful launches show that we are delivering real added value here. This can be due to the very helpful functions, such as the classifications or the commercial aspects, where idle times, errors and processes are in the foreground. "

Is the trend away from 2D drawing also a reason for a system change?
“Yes, that can also be a reason. But one thing should be clear: the way to the 3D master model does not lead to 1 or 0 as in digital electronics. Every company needs an individual concept for this. Even today, drawing is still the ultimate communication medium. Everything is documented on it. A first approach should be to simplify the drawing and only see the geometry with the dimensions. All information belongs on a separate sheet, as stipulated by VDA 4953. Everyone has to decide for themselves which is the best way based on their own benefit criteria. Ultimately, it is crucial that the user has a system that allows versioning of different documents to be implemented for an article. "

The term “digital twin” can be heard everywhere at the moment. To what extent do you deal with it and does this also have an impact on a switch?
“Is there really a digital twin for a product? Or rather several digital models that give different views of the real product. I think that the second view is more likely to be true. The digital image is designed as required, depending on which benefit is in the foreground. In service this is, for example, product optimization or predictive maintenance. Only when I receive "live" data from my real product do I have the opportunity to compare and optimize it with the digital image. Here, too, it is crucial: can my existing PDM system display all of this information together? I see big gaps there. Therefore, it is also a reason to opt for PLM now. "

Finally, a look into the glass ball. What future challenges do you see and what will keytech offer here?
"That's a good question. Well, luckily we don't need a fortune teller, because we have done our homework for the coming years at least to the extent that we have adequate solutions ready. At our customer days in April this year, we gave the participants an insight into the future plans. The result was enthusiastic approval of the points. These include the further development of web services or the keytech web api, integration of cloud services, fully integrated workflow management according to the industry standard BPMN, connection of external access users via a portal solution in keytech and much more.

We are thus prepared for today and for the future. Whatever happens beyond that, we will carefully observe, evaluate and typically reliably implement in keytech with our entire team. "

Thanks to Frank Schlupp for the detailed interview.


If you are interested in keytech PLM / DMS, please contact us. We're here to help.



Text and images:

ROTRING DATA has been keytech's exclusive partner for Switzerland since 2013.

your contact

Thomas Kunz
Business Development Manager

Send Message