Vaillant: Online configuration solution for heating engineers and dealers

Vaillant supports heating engineers and dealers with an online configuration solution. This allows heating engineers to put together complex heating systems themselves. Detailed technical questions that previously could only be dealt with by Vaillant consultants now practically solve themselves.  

Customer benefits at a glance:
 

  • Guided configuration of system configurations including feasibility test and calculation of gross price
  • Direct search via item numbers
  • Display of the required matching accessories
  • Price optimisation via set query
  • Pre-defined best practice solutions as order recommendations with complete planning data (e.g. parts lists and wiring plans)
  • Individual user authentication at beginning of application
  • Project management system for storing configurations and for maintenance of projects and customer data including return to system configurations
  • Comprehensive information on every item and display of alternatives (direct comparison)
  • Generated configurations and quotations automatically include matching images for every item (illustrated quotation)
  • Integration into the existing Vaillant FachpartnerNET, direct access to application on the Vaillant trade partner website
  • Layout in the Vaillant website corporate design
  • Export function for the formats Excel, Word, PDF and ugl (standardised skilled craft-specific format)
  • Support for Open Catalogue Interface (OCI). Direct data import in software for craftspeople is thus possible ( e.g. WinSOFT or KWP)

“Heating systems can be configured in many different ways”, says Professional Engineer Peter Hoeller, Project Leader for the systemKONFIGURATOR at Vaillant. “Sometimes even with simple systems there are issues to be resolved that in the past required contact with a customer or technical consultant. Today, thanks to the systemKONFIGURATOR, heating engineers have no trouble understanding quotations, no matter whether they are for simple standard systems or for the most complex ones.  The engineers are also able to build upon the wide selection of products and accessories provided by the systemKONFIGURATOR system around the clock”.

Why encoway?

Once the decision had been made for a database-supported product information management system (PIM), Vaillant was looking for a configuration provider that could, among other things, guarantee the smooth implementation of a data transfer system. “Of all the providers we looked at, encoway presented the best concept, and we are delighted with the result” explained Ralf Heidemeyer, Head of Marketing and Information at Vaillant. encoway created a configuration application based on their standardised software components.


Customer information

Vaillant is a leading producer of heating system technology based in Remscheid. The product range includes gas heating devices, oil heating devices, control technology, solar water heating, ventilation equipment, gas hot water geysers, electric water heaters and hot water tanks, along with heat pumps, air conditioning and photovoltaic systems and mini block-type power plants. Vaillant also develops pioneering technologies for the future, such as fuel cells.


The configurator for heating system solutions

Heating for private households and commercial buildings is becoming increasingly complex. New technologies are constantly emerging alongside the traditional ones, for example renewable power and heat generation. With the systemKONFIGURATOR from encoway, Vaillant has an ideal tool to manage this technical complexity. The system not only provides preconfigured order recommendations and matching accessories for plants and machinery, but also calculates the correct prices. Trade partners benefit from comprehensive support and security in the planning process, and the application then transfers the complete planning data to commercial programmes for craftspeople.  

“Heating engineers now have more time to advise the customer about complex systems“

Tailored to the needs of heating engineers

Every heating engineer who advises customers knows the situation: Returning from a customer visit on Friday they want to prepare a good quotation for their customer as quickly as possible, because after all, it’s the early bird that gets the worm. To do this, they need information about components, systems and the current prices. In order to find the correct system for the customer, the technical consultant must take many things into consideration, for example the type and age of the building and the customer’s existing heating solutions. Does the customer already use geothermal energy or solar panels, and should the new solution include these technologies? Do they want to install a boiler with gas or oil? In the increasingly complex world of heating system solutions there are a whole range of variants available in the field of renewable power generation.

A successful idea that spreads itself  

Vaillant presented the systemKONFIGURATOR for the first time at a trade fair and launched it without any additional promotion. It was obvious that none was necessary. “The system has been well-received by the customer and is being used more and more, which shows our trade partners perceive a real benefit”, says Heidemeyer. One of the most popular offers used by heating engineers is the one for homebuilders. Here, the end user receives comprehensive advice from an economic and environmental point of view. Vaillant also offers its trade partners a training programme dealing with new products, technology and regulations.   

Preconfigured system solutions as order recommendations

After a successful start, Vaillant equipped its online system configuration with new functions and other services. Since then, the systemKONFIGURATOR also provides suitable preconfigured order recommendations using standard configurations. “With the systemKONFIGURATOR, we have developed, as the first in the industry, a service for craftspeople that offers complete Vaillant system solutions”, explains Heidemeyer. Trade partners now have access to entire systems, including the parts lists and hydraulic and wiring plans. It is possible to amend the pre-configured order recommendations and customize them. The accessories shown are then automatically adapted to match the order. In this way, the user always receives a securely planned system, even with individually adapted solutions.

This is how the configurator works

Users access the systemKONFIGURATOR via the protected area of FachpartnerNET on the Vaillant homepage. Each system user receives their own authentication and project management system. Here they can store individual configurations, customer data and quotations.

Matching product accessories 

The systemKONFIGURATOR obtains the current product data from the product database at Vaillant. The entire know-how per item for Vaillant products is available in the product information management system (PIM). The PIM system (Contentserv) accesses the data via the standardised user interfaces. The deposited software simultaneously creates corresponding item numbers and list prices, and updates the data in the configurator. The set of rules contained in the systemKONFIGURATOR tests the manufacturability of the combinations, and generates the required matching accessories. The systemKONFIGURATOR also shows any errors in the compilation of a system, for example an air/exhaust duct that is too long to fit, thus preventing the assembly of non-constructible combinations of items. “... because once a heating system is ready for installation, rectifying the design error can be time consuming and complicated“ explains Hoeller.

“The tool allows the dealer to focus on advising the customer"

Digital quotation preparation

The systemKONFIGURATOR runs on any standard Internet browser, and the usual commercial programmes for craftspeople are then able to process the quotation data. In addition to the integration in FachpartnerNET, the configuration solution is also available in the WinSOFT programme.  “Trade partners can obtain the tried and tested WinSOFT software package from Vaillant and use the link to the systemKONFIGURATOR“, explains Hoeller.

Via an OCI-interface, the user can load the prepared quotation documents in the WinSOFT system. Everything is thus seamlessly integrated into the usual work processes. “In order to further process the quotation data you can, however, also use any other programme.” The configurator supports the OCI interface along with the export formats Excel, Word, PDF and the skilled craft-specific format ugl.

The preparation of quotations in the systemKONFIGURATOR is flexible and high quality.  Craftspeople can easily show alternatives to the preferred heating system and also include images of the components in their presentation.  They also have permanent access to the latest product range. Using a “set query”, they are able to compare their compilation with the complete systems compiled by Vaillant, and benefit from additional price advantages.

Conclusion

“80 percent of the quotations prepared by heating engineers relate to standard systems that can be quickly and correctly compiled by the systemKONFIGURATOR. They thus have more time to advise the customer about complex systems” says Ralf Heidemeyer, Head of Marketing and Information at Vaillant Deutschland and responsible for the project.  At the same time the online system increases quality and efficiency when advising customers and conducting daily business. Heating experts are now able to put together a complete system for the customer during their visit and immediately prepare a perfect, high-quality quotation. The craftsperson benefits from having access to a constantly updated data base for all of the Vaillant products.