Diehl Metering: Shorter response time for customer enquiries

Water and energy are scarce resources. Intelligent water supply and the efficient metering of energy are therefore of upmost importance today. They can, however, only develop their full potential when they are tailored to the many different usage scenarios. There is therefore a need for countless product variants, especially as regards water, heat and cooling meters – water and energy supply is thus becoming a complex system technology. At the measurement technology specialist Diehl Metering, the variant management system HYKON ensures that a perfect choice of product variants can be securely processed in the sales and production process.

Customer benefits at a glance:

  • Allows the user to quickly locate existing products by product features, item numbers or navigation tree
  • Generation of new, customer-specific product variants, automatically tested for feasibility and performance
  • Dramatically reduced response time for customer enquires
  • Incorporation of specific customer requirements possible
  • Full technical order clarification
  • No duplication of development effort or item numbers
  • Automatic compilation of extensive product descriptions and data
  • Connection to SAP-ERP through the transfer of product-relevant, up-to-date and validated product data
  • Easy handling and integration into the existing IT structures

The challenge

Diehl Metering offers a whole range of measuring devices for billing consumption in private households, at communal water suppliers and at energy suppliers. Every product inquiry is different and Diehl Metering has an extensive range of products. “We don’t develop product variants – we configure them,“ says Christoph Dörrbeck, Head of IT Applications Management at Hydrometer GmbH, a business unit of Diehl Metering.

HYKON dramatically simplifies how orders are processed, and shortens the response time for every customer enquiry – because technical orders can be clarified faster, and products from the entire range can be found quicker. The production specifications that are generated in addition to the article data are seamlessly integrated into the production systems, and are always available directly on the machine or plant.

„Without HYKON we would no longer be able to produce. By March 2014, more than 15,000 items had been generated in the first series to be produced with HYKON,” says Dörrbeck. Another key feature of HYKON is that special customer requirements can be easily incorporated during the product configuration. The individual product data and products of every customer are thus stored in the catalogue and can be accessed at any time.

Customer information

As a full-service provider, Diehl Metering supplies the complete process chain from meters to billing, and is one of the largest players in this international industry, with 7 million measuring devices and 4.6 million radio modules produced each year. With measuring devices for water, thermal energy, gas and electricity, every type of energy source can now be read out. The 13 companies that make up the corporate division Diehl Metering have shaped the history of measuring technology for the last 150 years. The product range includes everything from measuring devices, system technology and software to the implementation and operation of the solution, data services for energy supply and billing.

Product search and configuration

The salesforce is able to access the knowledge base with the help of HYKON and can select an item that meets the customer’s requirements from the existing variants. This can be done on the basis of product features, an item number search or a navigation tree. At the touch of a button the salesperson can see whether an existing meter can meet the customer requirements. Even meter variants that are not yet in the product range can, if required, be newly generated with the configurator, and thus individually created for the customer.

"Without HYKON we would no longer be able to produce."

In accordance with a defined set of rules, the variant management system HYKON automatically checks the new configuration solution for feasibility and performance. In order to ensure that no product innovation is simultaneously generated by another employee, the product configuration is monitored by a synchronization mechanism. A shopping cart is created, and the new item appears in the product catalogue. When the next employee accesses their standard catalogue, the new item has already been included and is available for sale. For order processing there is additional data available: item master data, classification data, part lists, test plans, printing data and data for individual programming. These are imported from the ERP system (SAP) and automatically displayed on the manufacturing plants.

„The open interfaces concept and the support for web services have greatly eased the connection to our backend systems.“

Close collaboration

For over ten years now, the encoway solution has been continually adapted to meet the changing requirements at Diehl Metering. Starting with a single series, all the electronic measuring devices and manufacturing plants followed step by step and are now firmly integrated into the service-oriented architecture (SOA) at the company. „The open interfaces concept and the support for web services have greatly eased the connection to our backend systems,“ says Dörrbeck. In China, production is now safeguarded with a standalone version. Once a day, the data status is updated using the German version.

SAP-ERP has been in use at Diehl Metering since the end of 2007. Since the changeover, HYKON has been expanded to create a multi-lingual version, and is now used by measuring technology specialists throughout the group of companies. The configurator is used in German, English and French at locations in Germany, Austria, France, Hungary, Poland, Brazil and China.