Customer Success Stories

Converting the Mundane into a Masterpiece with Kärcher

We have to speed up our day-to-day business regarding electronic engineering. To be inline with mechanical engineering, we have to optimize our processes and tools. Altium 365 helps us to improve cost, duration and quality.

Timo Guttenkunst
Engineering Manager

Headquartered in Winnenden, Germany, Kärcher was founded by Alfred Kärcher in 1935 with a strong focus on the development of heating technology. Their first cleaning product, which was the first European hot water pressure washer, was developed in 1950. This started the journey of Kärcher, the world-renowned, high-quality and innovative brand.

More Intelligence = More Complexity

In the past, machines were much simpler. Each machine had to perform only a few tasks, activated by a few buttons that were controlled by an operator. Now, with smart devices everywhere in our daily lives and technology advancing at an exponential rate, consumers expect to see more intelligence built into products

This applies to cleaning instruments as well. Kärcher, being an innovative company, has been adding more brain power to their products. That means more sensors, cameras and electrical components.

“At the very beginning, these products were more mechanical. Throughout the years, we were able to realize more and more features in these machines by including electronic systems. These electronic systems have allowed us to combine functions of the machine, making them much easier for our users to operate. They make much fewer mistakes. The products are long-lasting and, last but not least of course, they are more intelligent. They are connected.”
Christian Mrowka, Director of Product Management, who has been with Kärcher for 10 years.

As a global company with talents in many different disciplines around the world, working as a team can be challenging. Selecting the right tools and processes are crucial to success, especially when the high complexity of product design has been added to the equation.

“To be inline with mechanical engineering, we have to optimize our processes and tools. Altium allows us to share data around the world. We have teams in China, Italy, Romania, US…and the list is growing. We are not limited to developing the design locally, zipping up the files and emailing them. We can upload the files and share them at the beginning of the design phase, and also receive comments and reviews. This makes us more efficient.”

Timo Guttenkunst
Engineering Manager

Pioneer in Cleaning and Cleaning Obstacles

Having all the talents and strategies, the next main factor is time. Time can be an ally as well as an enemy. It takes time to develop quality products, but Kärcher also has to beat the competition. That makes working efficiently across disciplines super important.

Altium 365 allows teams to collaborate anytime and anywhere, which increases efficiency significantly. Different teams around the world are able to share designs, review changes, comment on details and collaborate without limitation across the entire product design process. “Moving to the cloud is a more collaborative way of working. We do not have to use other tools, we can just extract the BOM, share with procurement and be able to use it directly to share it in the early stage. This is something which is improved compared to just a local version or other tools.” As the engineering manager, Timo is very excited that his team gets more involvement in the product design development stages due to the transparency that Altium 365 brings.

With innovative strategy, the latest technology and the use of Altium 365, Kärcher's first autonomous cleaning machine, KIRA B50, was born and received the Amsterdam Innovation Award.

Nowadays I think most of the companies are working in cloud workspaces and not on local servers. I think this is what's going on in the world."'

Michael Hutmacher
Senior Hardware Specialist

Benefits Everyone Who Touches the Product

Any product design involves many different teams. Altium 365 is a platform that carries the flow from one end to the other, so that all the users who are involved in the process experience the power and benefits it delivers.

Let’s start with ideation

This is especially critical when space is limited in the enclosure and so many components need to be placed on the PCBs. This highlights the importance of the collaboration portion of Altium 365.

“The mechanical engineer is accessing Altium 365 and he's writing the comment there and telling what his wishes are. Also, the benefit, it's not the email or something else, it's stored inside the project, the information why this change was done, for example. And then also, it can be seen if it's a task when it's finally finished then.” Michael Hutmacher, Senior Hardware Specialist, who found Altium 365 as the perfect solution for their needs.

Availability of Components

It is very important to know the list of the components used in the PCB designs and whether they are available. This is what triggered Michael to look for a solution at the beginning. Inaccurate component information can cause more design revisions, reviews and changes, and end up delaying product development. Before moving to Altium 365, their projects used to be stored on their SVN server, which was unable to give the most up-to-date information on component availability.

“We now have the feature to check which component is in which product, and we can even see with ActiveBOM which components are end-of-life or obsolete. This is a great tool and gives a big, big benefit and also, it's possible for the purchasers that they check now inside A 365 which components are used where. And they can even check the availability and end-of-life information.” Michael is very happy with his finding of Altium 365 and being able to solve the issue.

Along with Hardware, There is Software

The benefits don't stop there. Before Altium 365 was implemented, software engineers had to print out PDFs for sharing or storage. With Altium 365, the complete schematic can be seen within the Web interface.

“The software engineer can browse through the whole schematic. He can even check himself which output is…The web interface is quite good to even show, review or check where connections are.” Michael brought up examples of how software engineers and test engineers can benefit from using Altium 365. “Our test engineers, even the engineers in the production who build the wiring harness, they like it very much because they can highlight a net in the schematic and see exactly at which pin this signal is coming out of the connector. So this is quite often used.”

Fast Onboarding For External Contractors

Altium 365 is very intuitive and has a short learning curve, which helps in bringing external contractors on board. They are able to share projects, check files in and out and use library templates right away. With the transparency Altium 365 offers, all the tasks, changes and comments by the external contractor can be seen.

As Michael described, “Typically a set of external subcontractors takes one hour and then he is ready to go…this makes it really quite faster and easier to collaborate. And we have it inside our system already, so it's not stored somewhere else. We have it in our workspace.” Part of Michael’s responsibility is to train external contractors and to grant access to certain portions of the product design process for Kärcher.

Secure Single Source of Truth

“Now we have one place where we store our sources, including all the history, so the history can be seen by everyone. We have all our components there and also the release output. Now the single source of truth is complete in Altium 365. Sources, libraries, and release data are managed from there and stored there.” Michael sees more benefits of the use of the cloud.

Altium Designer and Altium 365 empower Kärcher to innovate faster and develop quality products for their customers.

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