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zwissTEX GmbH accelerates circulation of quality management documents to one day

“As an au­to­mo­ti­ve sup­pli­er, we re­al­ly do have very ex­ten­si­ve do­cu­men­ta­ti­on ob­li­ga­ti­ons in qua­li­ty ma­nage­ment. In the past, such an amen­ded re­gu­la­ti­on took a good week to cir­cu­la­te. We have loo­ked at many so­lu­ti­ons to op­ti­mi­ze pro­ces­ses. But when we saw what the di­gi­ta­liza­ti­on so­lu­ti­ons of Di­gi­tal Life Sci­en­ces can do, we did not even look any fur­ther. Ever­y­thing is now trans­par­ent­ly do­cu­men­ted, ver­sio­ned, ar­chi­ved and traceable.”

Kontakt Seewald von zwissTEX GmbH
Mark See­wald
Head of in­te­gra­ted management

zwissTEX GmbH

In the cars of to­mor­row, the­re will be no one at the wheel who doesn’t want to. And when the car dri­ves its­elf, the in­te­ri­or of the ve­hic­le draws all the more at­ten­ti­on to its­elf. The high-tech tex­ti­le ma­nu­fac­tu­rer zwiss­TEX is pre­pared for this: with in­no­va­ti­ve tex­ti­les that can re­place com­ple­te de­sign and con­s­truc­tion concepts.

The histo­ry of zwiss­TEX goes back to the year 1828. Even back then, a fo­rerun­ner of the GmbH re­co­g­nis­ed the si­gns of the times and pro­du­ced tex­ti­les from na­tu­ral fi­bres. Over the de­ca­des, zwiss­TEX has re­inven­ted its­elf and its pro­duct ca­ta­log again and again, and to­day the com­pa­ny is a sought-af­ter part­ner with its high-tech textiles.

The head­quar­ters of the com­pa­ny is lo­ca­ted in Ger­stet­ten bet­ween Stutt­gart and Mu­nich. With new com­po­si­te ma­te­ri­als, warp-knit­ted and spa­cer fa­brics and many other pro­ducts, zwiss­TEX sup­pli­es not only the au­to­mo­ti­ve, clot­hing and me­di­cal tech­no­lo­gy in­dus­tries, but also the avia­ti­on and ul­tra-light­weight con­s­truc­tion sectors.

But working in an in­dus­try that is very clo­se to the au­to­mo­ti­ve sec­tor is not only ex­ci­ting and in­spi­ring. It must also com­ply with a com­pre­hen­si­ve ob­li­ga­ti­on to do­cu­ment work steps. Qua­li­ty ma­nage­ment (QM) is also a de­cisi­ve fac­tor, and here every ve­hic­le ma­nu­fac­tu­rer has its own spe­ci­fic re­qui­re­ments that sup­pli­ers such as zwiss­TEX must com­ply with.

Success Story: zwissTEX GmbH accelerates circulation of quality management documents to one day

zwissTEX initially relied on paper, Word and Excel for quality management

“As an au­to­mo­ti­ve sup­pli­er, we re­al­ly do have very ex­ten­si­ve do­cu­men­ta­ti­on ob­li­ga­ti­ons in qua­li­ty ma­nage­ment,” says Mark See­wald, Head of In­te­gra­ted Ma­nage­ment at zwiss­TEX. Qua­li­ty ma­nage­ment com­pri­ses me­thods with alowing com­pa­nies to com­bi­ne re­qui­re­ments for qua­li­ty, en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion, oc­cu­pa­tio­nal he­alth and safe­ty, safe­ty and others in a uni­form struc­tu­re. The workers in pro­duc­tion must have ac­cess to the cur­rent pa­pers at all times and com­ply with the regulations.

Zwiss­TEX has long re­li­ed on pa­per do­cu­ments as well as Word and Ex­cel to hand­le the ex­ten­si­ve tasks in qua­li­ty ma­nage­ment. For ex­am­p­le, at least th­ree peo­p­le must sign re­gu­la­ti­ons at zwiss­TEX be­fo­re they can be en­ac­ted. “So an em­ployee crea­ted a re­gu­la­ti­on,” de­scri­bes Mark See­wald, “made a copy and ran all over the site to cir­cu­la­te the paper.”

When a spe­ci­fi­ca­ti­on for pro­duc­tion was ch­an­ged, this spe­ci­fi­ca­ti­on on pa­per had to be com­mu­ni­ca­ted to, among others, the area ma­na­ger and the shift su­per­vi­sor be­fo­re it ar­ri­ved at the pro­duc­tion de­part­ment. “In the past, such an amen­ded spe­ci­fi­ca­ti­on took a good week to cir­cu­la­te,” says See­wald. Up to 900 spe­ci­fi­ca­ti­ons on pa­per cir­cu­la­te in the com­pa­ny, and if so­me­thing ch­an­ged, the ana­log­ous things took their cour­se. This kept em­ployees busy for many hours a week.

“zwiss­TEX GmbH had pre­vious­ly used a file sys­tem with Word do­cu­ments,” re­calls John Sten­der, pro­ject ma­na­ger at Di­gi­tal Life Sci­en­ces GmbH, the Com­pe­tence Cen­ter of d.velop AG for qua­li­ty ma­nage­ment and part­ner of edoc so­lu­ti­ons ag. Zwiss­TEX was not alo­ne in this: “Many com­pa­nies use si­mi­lar struc­tures like fol­ders with do­cu­ments as well as Ex­cel lists to track ver­si­ons and validity.”

Wanted: an electronic quality management system 

The time came when zwissTEX’s pre­vious workload with pa­per do­cu­ments in the area of qua­li­ty ma­nage­ment be­ca­me too much. Af­ter all, it took time to re­lease and place do­cu­ments and keep them up to date. Con­se­quent­ly, the com­pa­ny loo­ked for an al­ter­na­ti­ve — a di­gi­tal qua­li­ty ma­nage­ment system.

“We have loo­ked at many so­lu­ti­ons to op­ti­mi­ze pro­ces­ses,” says Mark See­wald, “but when we saw what the di­gi­ta­liza­ti­on so­lu­ti­ons of Di­gi­tal Life Sci­en­ces can do, we did not even look any fur­ther.” The high­light: zwiss­TEX had al­re­a­dy used d.velop do­cu­ments (form­er­ly d.3ecm). The com­pa­ny had been using the sys­tem by d.velop AG for half a year for an elec­tro­nic pro­ces­sing of in­co­ming in­voices in SAP, di­gi­tal sup­pli­er and cus­to­mer fol­ders as well as for le­gal­ly com­pli­ant e‑mail ar­chi­ving. Using the­se tools, zwiss­TEX had al­re­a­dy di­gi­tal­ly op­ti­mi­zed work­flows and pro­ces­ses, and re­du­ced re­se­arch and pro­ces­sing times. This lea­ves the em­ployees more time for the ac­tu­al, crea­ti­ve work.

Digital base came from edoc solutions ag

Here, edoc so­lu­ti­ons ag from Wei­ler­swist, the lar­gest d.velop do­cu­ments (form­er­ly d.3ecm) part­ner of d.velop AG, had al­re­a­dy laid the base. In 2018, edoc im­ple­men­ted the d.velop do­cu­ments (form­er­ly d.3ecm) at zwiss­TEX. “A be­fri­en­ded com­pa­ny re­com­men­ded us and du­ring the eva­lua­ti­on pro­cess at zwiss­TEX we were able to con­vin­ce them with our ECM port­fo­lio,” re­calls Alex­an­der Fer­rau­ti, Ac­count Ma­na­ger at edoc. Un­til 2018, many pro­ces­ses at zwiss­TEX were still con­duc­ted with pa­per do­cu­ments, and with the in­tro­duc­tion of d.velop do­cu­ments (form­er­ly d.3ecm), do­cu­ments such as quo­ta­ti­ons, or­ders or re­ceipts were au­to­ma­ti­cal­ly ar­chi­ved in the cus­to­mer or sup­pli­er fol­ders in d.velop do­cu­ments (form­er­ly d.3ecm). Alex­an­der Fer­rau­ti: “Af­ter ma­nu­al sto­rage, au­to­ma­tic do­cu­ment ar­chi­ving from the SAP sys­tem or the scan­ning pro­cess, the sys­tem au­to­ma­ti­cal­ly as­signs the do­cu­ments to the di­gi­tal process.”

Thus d.velop do­cu­ments (form­er­ly d.3ecm) was one of the first steps of zwiss­TEX in the cour­se of the di­gi­ta­liza­ti­on stra­tegy. “It was not only about ma­king do­cu­ments di­gi­tal­ly ac­ces­si­ble”, de­scri­bes Fer­rau­ti, “but also about the first di­gi­tal work­flows and pro­ces­ses. Such as the di­gi­tal in­co­ming in­voice.” Sin­ce d.velop do­cu­ments (form­er­ly d.3ecm) was set up by edoc so­lu­ti­ons ag, zwiss­TEX em­ployees have al­ways been able to track whe­re do­cu­ments are curr­ent­ly lo­ca­ted. In­voices could be che­cked or ap­pro­ved im­me­dia­te­ly and at any time, even while on the road, as could other documents.

Starting signal for the digital quality management of Digital Life Sciences GmbH

Af­ter the fa­mi­lia­riza­ti­on pha­se with d.velop do­cu­ments (form­er­ly d.3ecm), zwiss­TEX com­mis­sio­ned edoc so­lu­ti­ons ag to ex­pand the exis­ting d.velop do­cu­ments (form­er­ly d.3ecm). The tar­get: Em­ployees should be able to edit, view and up­date QM do­cu­ments di­gi­tal­ly. “On the d.velop do­cu­ments (form­er­ly d.3ecm) sys­tem, we were able to build up our user in­ter­face very well, which al­lows us to re­spond to the re­qui­re­ments in the qua­li­ty ma­nage­ment sec­tor”, de­scri­bes John Stender.

The joint pro­ject to set up and ad­apt the sys­tem for di­gi­tal qua­li­ty ma­nage­ment star­ted in Ja­nu­ary 2019. The so­lu­ti­on only had to be slight­ly ad­apt­ed to the needs of zwiss­TEX. In the me­di­cal in­dus­try, for ex­am­p­le, com­pa­nies must fol­low ex­ten­si­ve gui­de­lines known as “GxP”. “zwiss­TEX is not a clas­sic GxP cus­to­mer”, Sten­der de­scri­bes, “but the re­qui­re­ments are si­mi­lar, be­cau­se zwiss­TEX has ba­sed its qua­li­ty ma­nage­ment on GxP standards.” 

In their dai­ly work, zwiss­TEX em­ployees have to crea­te, up­date and re­lease many di­gi­tal QM do­cu­ments, some of them with di­gi­tal si­gna­tures. The in­tro­duc­tion of the di­gi­tal do­cu­ment ma­nage­ment was only the first step. In con­trast to working with Word and Ex­cel, the qua­li­ty ma­nage­ment so­lu­ti­ons by Di­gi­tal Life Sci­en­ces of­fer a struc­tu­re for this pur­po­se which also pre­de­fi­nes the work­flow. Em­ployees are gi­ven dif­fe­rent user ro­les only gran­ting them ac­cess to the do­cu­ments and sec­tions they re­al­ly need. This not only en­su­res or­der and cla­ri­ty, it also dries up a pos­si­ble source of error.

Runtimes reduced from one week to one day

Mo­reo­ver, each em­ployee has an in­di­vi­du­al over­view of all tasks, dead­lines and do­cu­ments. “At the be­gin­ning, we first im­ple­men­ted our or­ga­niza­ti­on chart in d.velop do­cu­ments (form­er­ly d.3ecm),” See­wald re­mem­bers. Users could then as­sign tasks, such as che­cking or ap­pro­ving a do­cu­ment or even working th­rough a root cau­se ana­ly­sis. The tasks re­cei­ve dead­lines and key dates, the per­sons in char­ge re­cei­ve a no­ti­fi­ca­ti­on via Mi­cro­soft Out­look. If the va­li­di­ty of a do­cu­ment ex­pi­res, a per­son in char­ge of QM re­cei­ves a message.

From pro­ject start in Ja­nu­ary 2019, it took only six months to go live. See­wald: “We have also set up an ad­di­tio­nal em­ployee qua­li­fi­ca­ti­on mo­du­le to re­cord which col­le­ague must be trai­ned on which do­cu­ments and which trai­nings have al­re­a­dy ta­ken place.”

The new soft­ware also makes it much ea­sier to keep track of do­cu­ments and dead­lines even in the heat of the day. Ac­cor­din­gly, the user is au­to­ma­ti­cal­ly re­min­ded about the ex­piry of a pos­si­ble dead­line. Ac­cess to the re­le­vant do­cu­ments is also fas­ter and more con­ve­ni­ent. No­bo­dy has to scroll th­rough fol­ders any­mo­re — with the full-text search, the de­cisi­ve do­cu­ment is only one click away.

See­wald: “In the past, for ex­am­p­le, new spe­ci­fi­ca­ti­ons for pro­duc­tion took a week for the cir­cu­la­ti­on of do­cu­ments. With di­gi­tal qua­li­ty ma­nage­ment, this is done wi­thin a day, in rare ca­ses it ta­kes two days.” Sin­ce its in­tro­duc­tion, 350 em­ployees now work with the di­gi­tal qua­li­ty ma­nage­ment sys­tem, in­clu­ding the em­ployees at the zwiss­TEX site in Mexico.

This is how digital quality management works at zwissTEX

zwiss­TEX has di­vi­ded its di­gi­tal qua­li­ty ma­nage­ment into five pro­cess groups:

  1. Do­cu­ment management
  2. Ch­an­ge Con­trol (ch­an­ge management)
  3. CAPA (Cor­rec­ti­ve And Pre­ven­ti­ve Actions)
  4. De­via­ti­on Con­trol (de­via­ti­on management)
  5. Em­ployee qualification

 “We de­ci­ded to go with d.velop”, says See­wald, “be­cau­se all five com­pon­ents and so­lu­ti­ons we nee­ded were al­re­a­dy available in one soft­ware. The soft­ware is also ex­pan­da­ble, for ex­am­p­le for con­tract ma­nage­ment.” Al­re­a­dy in July 2019, short­ly af­ter the do­cu­ment ma­nage­ment sys­tem was set up, zwiss­TEX in­tro­du­ces a di­gi­tal ch­an­ge ma­nage­ment (ch­an­ge con­trol) ba­sed on d.velop do­cu­ments (form­er­ly d.3ecm).

The re­ason: Be­fo­re the in­tro­duc­tion, the zwiss­TEX em­ployees had their hands full ma­na­ging the ch­an­ges. Some ch­an­ge re­quests came by e‑mail, some by call-in bet­ween the cof­fee kit­chen and the desk, and some even by Post-It. See­wald: “So we nee­ded a di­gi­tal­ly con­trol­led ch­an­ge ma­nage­ment sys­tem, also to meet the re­qui­re­ments of the In­ter­na­tio­nal Au­to­mo­bi­le Task Force (IATF).”

Ex­am­p­le: A zwiss­TEX cus­to­mer ch­an­ges his re­cur­ring or­der. He now needs yel­low in­s­tead of red parts. zwiss­TEX must the­r­e­fo­re pro­du­ce yel­low parts in fu­ture — a ch­an­ge that af­fects many de­part­ments, from pro­duc­tion and in­voi­cing to prin­ting de­li­very no­tes and labels.

“With d.velop do­cu­ments (form­er­ly d.3ecm), our em­ployees keep the over­view”, de­scri­bes See­wald, “and we avo­id fric­tion­al los­ses.” Di­gi­tal ch­an­ge ma­nage­ment crea­tes a task list for all in­vol­ved or re­spon­si­ble em­ployees and keeps track of the pro­ces­sing. Em­ployees re­cei­ve a mes­sa­ge via Out­look when new tasks are due or they have to act in the pro­cess. For ex­am­p­le, pro­duc­tion em­ployees can upload a pho­to of the first yel­low parts to con­firm that they are now pro­du­cing yel­low parts, thus mee­ting the zwiss­TEX customer’s ch­an­ge requests.

The other are­as of qua­li­ty ma­nage­ment, such as the ma­nage­ment of cor­rec­ti­ve and pre­ven­ti­ve ac­tions, work in a si­mi­lar way. Af­ter all, it is not en­ough to sim­ply com­mu­ni­ca­te a ch­an­ge re­quest. Em­ployees must also trans­la­te this ch­an­ge re­quest into me­a­su­res and keep track of whe­ther the­se me­a­su­res have been pro­ces­sed. And in due time and form. Last but not least, any com­plaints must be tra­cked down and pro­ces­sed using de­via­ti­on management.

See­wald: “A big com­pli­ment to Jac­que­line Gol­lan, qua­li­ty ma­na­ger at zwiss­TEX. The ra­pid im­ple­men­ta­ti­on of an elec­tro­nic qua­li­ty ma­nage­ment sys­tem would not have been pos­si­ble wi­t­hout her; she was the dri­ving force be­hind the project.”

“We’ve collected all the specifications on paper”

“The gre­at ad­van­ta­ge of di­gi­tal qua­li­ty ma­nage­ment,” says John Sten­der, “is not only the di­rect ac­cess to do­cu­ments, dead­lines and tasks, but abo­ve all the fact that it is up-to-date. Do­cu­ments are al­ways up to date, which is a gre­at ad­ded va­lue for the pro­duc­tion staff. They no lon­ger have to worry about whe­ther they have the cor­rect and cur­rent instructions.”

This way, zwiss­TEX eli­mi­na­tes a lot of fric­tion los­ses. And a lot of pa­per. “We have coll­ec­ted all spe­ci­fi­ca­ti­ons on pa­per”, em­pha­si­zes Mark See­wald, “in the en­ti­re pro­duc­tion the­re are no more spe­ci­fi­ca­ti­ons on pa­per.” All pro­cess de­scrip­ti­ons, work in­s­truc­tions, pro­ce­du­ral in­s­truc­tions and the com­ple­te QM de­part­ment are now di­gi­ta­li­zed. See­wald: “Ever­y­thing is now trans­par­ent­ly do­cu­men­ted, ver­sio­ned, ar­chi­ved and traceable.” 

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