Image: Schüco International KG
For almost 20 years, the Schüco Technology Centre in Bielefeld and dacore have been working together on the “SLIM” laboratory management system and thus on optimising laboratory processes in the largest manufacturer test laboratory for windows and façades in Europe. The digital transformation for the technical-physical laboratory began with the introduction of a laboratory management system from dacore. In a continuous development process, both partners ensure the performance and future viability of the Schüco test centre.
Schüco International KG is a global leader in aluminium, steel and PVC-U systems for innovative building envelopes. With over 6,000 employees and a network of 40,000 partner companies and investors in more than 80 countries, the company offers state-of-the-art window and facade technology and individual advice for architects, planners, investors and building owners. Schüco stands for quality, security and sustainability. This also applies in a special way to the Technology Centre (Technologiezentrum, TZ), Europe’s largest test laboratory for windows and facades, based in Bielefeld.
Almost all relevant test procedures for window, door and facade technology, but also for object-specific systems, can be mapped in the TZ. Around 800 tests are carried out here every year by 40 employees. The subject areas include building acoustics, component and material tests, leak tests, electromagnetic compatibility, mechanics and service life, safety and environmental simulation tests. The wide range of test samples extends from large facades to doors and windows to fittings and accessories. The orders come primarily from the corporate group, but also from external customers.
Since 2016, the Technology Centre has also has a 17025-accredited calibration laboratory, which ensures that the entire testing technology, from measuring equipment to systems and test stands to software, is traceable to the requirements.
“With the introduction of our laboratory management system almost 20 years ago, we started our digital transformation and thus laid the foundation for the future viability of our testing laboratory. Today, we are digitalisation pioneers – also thanks to dacore. Our common goal: the best possible optimisation of our laboratory processes.”
Karl-Heinz Welk, head of the Technology Center, Schüco International KG, Bielefeld
The initial situation
Until the mid-1990s, all orders and test reports were managed in an Excel database in the then “test centre” at Schüco. However, due to the increasing number and variety of tests and the associated documentation requirements, this solution had reached its limits.
A testing laboratory-specific quality management system based on an Access database with an input tool for the technical developers was therefore set up, further developed and optimised on the company's own initiative. A decade later, however, even this solution was no longer up to the increasing demands in terms of flexibility, production-related process mapping, organisation, service quality and sustainability. In particular, a combined order and information management tool was missing to implement new types of inspections and to flexibly link them with capacity and schedule planning, inspection equipment monitoring, calibration and maintenance. TZ manager Karl-Heinz Welk was more convinced than ever: “We need software that is tailored to laboratories.”
Karl-Heinz Welk and his team became aware of dacore’s laboratory management systems through a recommendation.
“Here we found exactly the functionalities we had envisioned. We came across a company that really understands us lab people,” says Welk.
In 2005 – the same year the accreditation according to DIN EN ISO/IEC 17025 was due – the Technology Centre began with the introduction of the laboratory management software from dacore, which was introduced in Bielefeld as “TZ-AMIS”. “Of course, there was still a lot for us to adapt to, and there were great learning effects on both sides. In retrospect, however, it went very quickly until we had exactly the solution that led to a high level of acceptance here in the company and that brought us a massive step forward,” says Welk.
The functions initially included online order management for internal clients via TZ-AMIS Webbox, scheduling, resource and capacity planning. In 2009, a module for warehouse management was added to the system. Since its introduction, the system has been and continues to be developed and optimised in close cooperation with the dacore development team.
“Whether market requirements have changed, new technologies have become available or additional topics and services have been added in the test laboratory – in close cooperation at eye level, we have succeeded in keeping the system up-to-date and optimising it further and further. And the development continues, of course. Today, the focus is on networking, automation and data handling.”
Joachim Meyer, Head of Development, dacore Datenbanksysteme AG
- 2013: Establishment of a document management system
- 2015: Expansion of the quality management functions to include a supplier assessment as well as an improvement and complaint management system
- 2016: Expansion of the central measuring equipment management as well as the standards management (rules and regulations) with monitoring functionality
- 2017: Introduction of an application for calculating results based on building acoustics measurement data
- 2019: Update of the user interface to improve usability, new scheduling and resource planning with new, modern planning philosophy
- 2020: Conversion of the database from Oracle to Microsoft SQL Server
- 2021: Renaming – TZ-AMIS becomes SLIM (Schüco Labor-Informations-Managementsystem)
- 2021: Internationalisation: SLIM is introduced at international locations – initially in France. For this purpose, the system is expanded to include the following functionalities: multilingualism of the user interface and database information for the creation of language-dependent test reports, multi-client capability.
- 2021: Development of a supplier and customer interface for the exchange of data and documents
- 2022: Revision of the website for the (internal) customers of the testing laboratory (SLIM Web 2.0)
Advantages and outlook
Since its introduction, the software has ensured a consistent, transparent and flexibly adaptable organisation of the tests and thus of the entire testing laboratory – always using state-of-the-art technology.
Above all, the combination of order management and resource planning, which was already implemented at an early stage, had a lasting positive effect on quality, efficiency and occupational safety and reduced the time pressure on (internal) customers and employees. “Without the system, we would quickly lose the overview. The software enables us to have a consistent, transparent organisation,” Welk says with satisfaction.
Today, almost all of the TC’s services are handled in SLIM. Only personnel, customer and supplier data have been and will continue to be made available via SAP.
The next development step is the platform for the testing laboratory's internal customers, where they post their testing requests. As the suffix 2.0 indicates, the evolution continues with “SLIM Web 2.0” – in the direction of automation, extended self-service and even better usability.
dacore services and technical base
- Analysis of requirements, creation of specifications, installation, introduction, technical support
- Initial project: Development of the individual software TZ-AMIS (today: SLIM) with Webbox for internal online order management as a client-server solution with Oracle database.
- Creation of various SAP interfaces
- Document management system
- Improvement and complaint management
- Application for calculating results on the basis of building acoustics measurement data
- Database conversion from Oracle to Microsoft SQL Server
- SLIM (Schüco Laboratory Information Management System)
- Multilingual user interface and database information
- Supplier and customer interface for exchanging data and documents
Join us in making your technical-physical testing laboratory fit for the future and lay the foundation for the digital transformation of your laboratory processes with a dacore laboratory management system.