STIHL versiondog Case Study

A Professional Change Management tool for the maker of tools for Professionals

In large, heavily-specialized production facilities like those at STIHL, it is vital that both management and maintenance can keep track of all aspects of production. Thanks to versiondog, time-consuming searches for data and documentation have become a thing of the past.

Why does STIHL need a change management tool like versiondog?

stihl versiondog case study logoSTIHL designs and produces their own production equipment for use both in-house and in external facilities.  Thomas Ruppman has been involved in the design of STIHL production facilities since 1991. He says that because the in-house team is involved from the planning stage to the manufacturing stage, they have a greater interest in ensuring that production lines run as smoothly as possible. Therefore, data management and version control is crucial to them.

stihl factory

Ruppman remembers when data management wasn’t a problem for STIHL because they were using large programming devices that were physically wheeled into the production areas to run backups.

As the task of backing up data began to use portable data storage devices like USB sticks, there was a much higher risk of data loss. While STIHL prides itself on a well-organized production environment, there is always room for improvement.“It was always clear where the data was,” Ruppmann recalls.

versiondog was the answer. In 2009, the maintenance team converted from an older version control system called VersionWorks to versiondog because it allowed for ongoing process optimization and was a convenient, easy-to-use tool.

How does STIHL use versiondog?

stihl factory

At first, versiondog was only used for backing up PLC software. As the team’s confidence in the change management software grew, they began to integrate important editors. The team at STIHL appreciate how they simply have to define the directories and project tree structure to be able to work in familiar environments.

Bit by bit, versiondog was implemented across all machines and in all areas of production. Today, at the STIHL headquarters in Waiblingen, Germany, there are around 220 users who work with versiondog.

Now all STIHL production facilities in Germany have implemented versiondog as part of their data management strategy. This encompasses approximately 3,000 machines and 7,600 components Since the introduction of versiondog approximately 46,000 versions have been created and checked in.

While the main purpose is to use versiondog data management software for automated production, even the quality assurance managers and building services engineers use versiondog.

Because these roles vary widely, the STIHL team manages access rights to information through versiondog. For example, access is highly restricted for production line construction plans to only individuals with the highly-specialized knowledge to work on them competently.

Even with restricted access, versiondog helps the necessary individuals see all of the information they need quickly. With the help of an extensive WLAN system, it is possible to use versiondog not only to access program versions of individual PLCs, but also electrical and pneumatic circuit diagrams, instructions, and documents for both common and not-so-common devices from all production areas. This singular strategy helps to reduce downtime at STIHL plants.

Devices are backed up at STIHL on a daily basis in order to ensure that the latest production data is always available. Backups enable the detection of unintended changes. As backups are run in the background, they do not have to be constantly monitored. When anomalies are detected, members of the appropriate team will receive immediate notification via email.

The bottom line for the STIHL versiondog case study – did versiondog save STIHL money?

stihl factory

At the point of procuring versiondog, reducing financial costs wasn’t the primary objective. Rather, versiondog change management software was needed for clearly organized and traceable documentation. Reducing cost has been an additional benefit.

In addition to cost reduction, STIHL relies on regular backups to ensure that the latest controller version is always stored. As a result, data storage has been simplified and uncertainty has been removed. Thanks to the centralized data storage that versiondog brings, there is no longer any risk of data storage devices going missing.

“The effort involved in searching for the latest software version has disappeared entirely. We always know where we need to go.”

Thomas Ruppmann, Department of Electrical Design at Andreas Stihl AG & Co. KG

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