During a period of rapid growth, Hagler Systems, a small manufacturer of mining and dredging equipment, decided it needed to scrap its paper-based processes to compete with large global companies. Hagler Systems needed a better way to manage
its engineering drawings and highly complex bills of materials. Then, in 2009, the company began a pilot implementation of product lifecycle management (PLM) software from PTC, a Gold Certified Microsoft partner and combined it with Microsoft Dynamics AX enterprise
resource planning (ERP) and data management software from Microsoft. In March 2011, Hagler Systems began using the PLM software, completing the full deployment in October 2011. The company believes its new easy-to-use PLM-ERP solution will help it compete
effectively against even large global firms. The solution, which relies on the Microsoft advanced database foundation, also saves time and offers a low total cost of ownership.
Hagler Systems was established in 1996 by three brothers who run the company today: President Robert Hagler and Vice Presidents David and Ben Hagler. In the relatively short time it has been in business, Hagler Systems has made a name for itself in the design,
manufacture, implementation, and repair of dredging and mining equipment.
||We’re a very competitive company, and by deploying Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 as the common database for Windchill 10.0 and for Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012, we can compete with anybody.
Partner and Vice President of Engineering and Operations
The company focuses primarily on solutions for the extraction of oil from oil sands, phosphate fertilizer mining, and dredging operations. Hagler Systems provides a full range of offerings for control systems, hydraulics, and other related needs—from customized
designs to installation and repair. By providing everything from concept through manufacturing and services, Hagler Systems helps its customers get up and running faster than those that use separate vendors for each function.
Between 2002 and 2010, Hagler Systems was immensely successful and grew from 5 employees to 70. Even by 2009, the three owners realized that their paper-based processes were hindering their ability to compete with the large multinational companies that dominate
their field. For one thing, to serve its customers—which include some of the world’s largest enterprises—Hagler Systems had to manage highly complex, multi-level bills of materials (BOMs) with frequent change orders. “Our customers demand quality, and we needed
to standardize our processes and become more efficient,” says Ben Hagler, Vice President of Engineering and Operations.
Hagler Systems was also having problems with collaborating and managing version control for its engineering team. “If two people on a team wanted to edit the designs for two parts of the same assembly at the same time, it was very difficult,” says Ben Hagler.
In addition, the company wanted a short engineer-to-order timeline and a compressed design cycle. To accomplish these goals, engineering needed to be connected to the mission-critical manufacturing processes.
In April 2009, Hagler Systems began a search for a solution to help it become more competitive. The owners explored product lifecycle management (PLM) software to handle their complex BOMs, frequent change orders, and approval processes. They also looked
at enterprise resource planning (ERP) software to work with PLM and provide a company-wide system that would link engineering to manufacturing. To support these mission-critical applications, the company wanted a common database foundation.
Toward the end of 2009, Hagler Systems selected Windchill, a PLM solution from Microsoft partner PTC, which holds a Gold ISV competency. Windchill supports multiple computer-aided drafting (CAD) programs, including the 3-D modeling program that Hagler Systems
used. “We looked at competitive offerings, but Windchill was more powerful,” says Ben Hagler.
The company chose Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 for its ERP system, in part because it could easily interoperate with the PLM software. The solution relies on Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 Standard data management software. Hagler Systems had successfully used
SQL Server 2005 for certain applications and for the database for the CAD program that was used with its burn table, a machine that burns metal for the direct machining of parts. “The inventory and machine settings for our burn table were all managed by SQL
Server, so we knew the product was reliable and easy to manage,” says Ben Hagler.
After Hagler Systems began a pilot implementation of the software, the owners realized that they needed additional expertise. So they hired three new industrial engineers with master’s degrees and certifications in the Six Sigma quality management methodology.
||Thanks to the partnership between Microsoft and PTC, PLM is not just for large companies anymore. This solution with Windchill and SQL Server 2008 R2 gives us the capabilities of a larger company, so we can compete with the best.
Partner and Vice President of Engineering
The new industrial engineers studied the company’s operations and software needs for several months. Then, when PTC made Windchill 10.0 available in March 2011, the company downloaded it and began using it the next day. Ben Hagler says, “As a partner, PTC was
a lifesaver for us.” Rishi Kaki, one of the recently hired engineers, adds, “We were very impressed with the user interface and capabilities of Windchill 10.0.”
Along with the purchase of some new server computers, Hagler Systems also deployed Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 and Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 Standard as part of its solution. The full implementation was completed in October 2011, using the Windows Server
2008 R2 Standard operating system on a mix of hardware and virtual machines. The company has allocated a space of 500 gigabytes of data on SQL Server 2008 R2 for its system. Because SQL Server 2008 R2 offloads data to a hard disk and stores only the metadata,
the company expects that it will have enough space for the next few years. “Now we’re just looking forward to what comes next,” says Kaki.
Hagler Systems has achieved a fully interoperable PLM-ERP system that will save time, provide an advanced database foundation, and offer a low total cost of ownership that strengthens the manufacturer’s ability to succeed in its industry. “We’re a very competitive
company, and by deploying Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 as the common database for Windchill 10.0 and for Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012, we can compete with anybody,” says Ben Hagler.
The interoperation of Windchill and the Microsoft software has provided Hagler Systems with capabilities that were previously unavailable to small companies. Today, the company’s engineers can work on drawings for different parts in the same assembly simultaneously.
Change orders are not a problem with easy management and version control, and the whole process of completing BOMs is simplified.
Hagler Systems experienced the difference the new system made even while it was still in the pilot deployment. “We were working with a partner engineering group in India using a shared SQL Server database,” says Ben Hagler. “They were making drawings, and
we could review and approve them from here. It just worked beautifully.”
Because Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 is part of the solution, time and materials can be accurately charged to the appropriate customer account, which simplifies accounting. “Thanks to the partnership between Microsoft and PTC, PLM is not just for large companies
anymore,” says Ben Hagler. “This solution with Windchill and SQL Server 2008 R2 gives us the capabilities of a larger company, so we can compete with the best.”
Saves Time with an Easy-to-Use Solution
As a small company, Hagler Systems has long tried to maximize employee labor, and its combined PLM-ERP solution helps it do just that. “The most valuable resource you have as a small company is your people,” says Ben Hagler. “And you want to help them make
the most of their time.” The solution is also helping Hagler Systems save time by increasing efficiency in preparing BOMs and managing processes.
The company finds the intuitive interface of Windchill 10.0—which looks very much like the familiar Microsoft interface—and the ease of using Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 and SQL Server 2008 R2 are important in helping employees take full advantage of the
software. Hagler Systems expects that because of the increased efficiency, the new solution will reduce time-to-delivery by 10 to 15 percent.
Provides an Advanced Database Foundation
||We would not even attempt to do this with other database software that would require us to hire a separate database administrator and services. As a small company, we just can’t afford that, and with SQL Server 2008 R2, it’s not necessary.
Partner and Vice President of Engineering
SQL Server 2008 R2 provides an advanced database foundation for the combined PLM and ERP solution at Hagler Systems. SQL Server 2008 R2 is a cost-effective choice that simplifies management, offers easy-to-use reporting capabilities, and is highly scalable.
“We would not even attempt this solution with other database software that would require us to hire a separate database administrator and services,” says Ben Hagler. “As a small company, we just can’t afford that, and with SQL Server 2008 R2, it’s not necessary.”
The company is deploying SQL Server 2008 R2 Reporting Services for use with Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 and looks forward to using the Report Manager. In addition to the built-in tools available with SQL Server 2008 R2, Hagler Systems finds it a highly reliable
and flexible database that it can scale up, as needed. Says Ben Hagler, “Where else except with SQL Server 2008 R2 can you get a large-scale database combined with tools that are usually reserved for the elite?”
Offers a Low Total Cost of Ownership
Another key advantage of the combined solution is that it offers a low total cost of ownership. Hagler Systems saved money on the initial cost of its PLM and ERP software and on SQL Server 2008 R2, compared with competitive offerings. In addition, maintenance,
backup, and disaster recovery are simpler, which will further contribute to lower IT costs.
“Windchill 10.0 offers the same capabilities as other PLM systems at a more affordable price,” says Ben Hagler. “And, of course, together with SQL Server 2008 R2, we have fewer staffing needs and do not have to contract for services.”
Because the solution is based on the Microsoft platform, the same IT staff that handles the rest of the company’s Microsoft software can manage its combined solution. “Six Sigma teaches that saving time is saving money,” says Kaki. “We have done that.”
The low total cost of ownership for its PLM-ERP solution is one more reason that Hagler Systems, which currently has 80 employees, can compete—and win—against much larger companies in its field.
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