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Convenient and secure data exchange from SAP ECTR

By Daniel Wiegand

Integrating data exchange into the users' working environment is the best way to ensure that they comply with data security and know-how protection rules. That's why automotive supplier HBPO has integrated the OpenDXM GlobalX data exchange platform into SAP ECTR. In the future, it will be available not only for product developers, but also for other departments.

HBPO is a world leader in the development, design and assembly of front-end modules, i.e. those modules that give vehicles their face. The Tier 1 supplier also manufactures active grille shutters, center consoles and cockpit modules for major automotive OEMs. HBPO has stood for innovation, quality and customer proximity for nearly three decades, but has only operated under this name since 2004. Being a joint venture, 66.6% of the company is owned by Plastic Omnium and 33.3% by HELLA GmbH & Co. KGaA since 2017. Currently, the module specialist employs around 2,500 people at more than 30 locations in Europe, Asia and America.

HBPO's engineers manage their design data from different authoring systems using SAP PLM or the SAP Engineering Control Center (ECTR). ECTR provides standard integrations to the leading CAx systems under a uniform user interface. To meet the more demanding requirements in terms of IP protection and traceability of the exchange processes, the company introduced the OpenDXM GlobalX data exchange platform.

"PROSTEP was the only company that could offer us complete integration of the data exchange solution in the new environment," explains Alexander Meier the reasons for the decision. He is responsible for supporting the company's PLM landscape. Conformity to TISAX also played an important role. By using OpenDXM GlobalX, the strict security requirements of the VDA for handling confidential and personal data can be better met during operation.

PROSTEP delivers OpenDXM GlobalX with a plug-in that was developed in collaboration with DSC AG and is fully integrated with SAP ECTR. It allows users to send data from SAP ECTR to OpenDXM GlobalX and also to import data from there back into the system. Both the sending and receiving of documents can be largely automated, minimizing manual intervention.

The plugin is provided as a ZIP document and can be integrated into the SAP ECTR environment very easily. Analogous to the configuration of the user interface, the frontend-relevant settings can be configured on the file level. For example, HBPO has created various macros for exchanges that are still in progress or those that have already been successfully executed. Adjustments to the data model or classification, on the other hand, must be made in the SAP back end. "The configuration effort is kept within limits, however," says Meier. "Overall, setting up the integration took no longer than a day."

OpenDXM GlobalX is currently used primarily by engineers at HBPO. They create their exchanges for the project in question in the SAP ECTR environment, select complete assemblies or individual components in the preview window and copy them into the exchange package using drag and drop. In addition to native 3D models, the package can also contain data in neutral formats such as JT or PDF. Then they select the recipient(s) in the shipping order wizard and export the exchange package from SAP PLM to OpenDXM GlobalX. In SAP ECTR, they can track the status of their shipping orders at any time.

The seamless integration of the data exchange platform into the SAP ECTR environment ensures a high level of acceptance and also helps to ensure that users require very little training, as Meier sums up. "Setting up the data exchange authorizations was made easier by the fact that the data in SAP ECTR and also the accesses are organized on a project-by-project basis and that the integration can be adapted very flexibly to our authorization concept. Only employees who have access to the respective project and project data can create data exchange transactions."

HBPO is very satisfied with PROSTEP's data exchange platform and intends to make it available in the future to all departments that exchange sensitive data with customers or suppliers, as Meier concludes. This could be employees in purchasing, quality assurance or industrial engineering, but also in human resources. Since not all of them work with SAP ECTR, the company is thinking about implementing OpenDXM GlobalX's MS Outlook integration as well.

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