The path to PLM for KTM

KTM is a motorcycle manufacturer, founded in 1934 by Hans Trunkenpolz in Matihofen, Austria, where the company remains today. Starting out as a metal working business, two decades later it developed into a motorcycle manufacturer and has recently gone down a new road with product lifecycle management (PLM).

With the same turmoil that has plagued some of the leading names in the motorcycle industry, KTM’s fortunes have waxed and waned with the company essentially becoming insolvent in the mid-1990s.

KTM as we know it today was born following an injection of investment from Indian automotive giant, Bajaj. The marque name was reborn. Bajaj is now a key shareholder in the company and is responsible for the manufacture of many of its smaller displacement street bikes, whereas the higher-end products are still designed, engineered and manufactured in its Austrian headquarters.

The company has built its reputation on a combination of off road and endurance motorcycles with more recent products that are firmly in the road and superbike category, even entering the world of racing with backing from everyone’s favourite hangover cure, Red Bull.

Technological development

Since 1998, KTM has been using PTC’s tools to assist with taking its products from concept to manufactured item. The journey began in 1998 with the company investing in Pro/Engineer. Previously, it had been using a little known 2D system called Caddy and Cimatron for its 3D work.

With the wealth of data created, the team realised in 2001 that some form of data management was required and adopted Pro/Intralink for managing its design data across the engineering department. This sufficed for the next few years until data had grown to the point where something more sophisticated was required. Partially driven by the sheer volume of information, but also the need to expand out the types of information stored and increasingly complex products, a decision regarding a move to either PDM/Link or another PLM system was made.

The key requirements were that KTM’s PES (Product Engineering System) would not only hold its wealth of engineering data, but also replicate its existing manual workflows and approval processes in a digital environment. Another key driving factor was greater integration between the PDM system and the company’s chosen ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) system, Movex.

An environment that combined PDM/Link with not only Pro/Engineer, but also ProductView (for product visualisation) was put together and rolled out across KTM’s internal departments. This also allowed supply chain access to released data in a controlled and secure fashion. The PES went live in 2008 and in the intervening years, KTM has been updating and expanding the solution.

An evolving solution

At present, the PES system is available for use by 580 users. In terms of how this breaks down, KTM has 170 designers and engineers, 125 members of the team involved in release workflow, sign off and approval (not including manufacturing and production staff) and 285 pure viewing users who are not involved in the approval process. In terms of departmental coverage, it’s now in use in R & D, purchasing, scheduling, production, AV, technical documentation, customer service, quality and more.

In the last two years, KTM has also moved further. The team is bringing not only technical documentation into the managed data realm (using Isodraw and Abortext), but also to introducing the management of cable and harness design using the Pro/Engineer interface with Zuken Pro/Cabling. KTM is also looking to expand out its use of 3D visualisation (using ProductView) to assist with the approval process.

Into the future

Next year’s aim is to make the move to Creo 2.0 (the team has highlighted the use of sub division surfaces in Freestyle as a driving factor) in combination with an upgrade to PDMLink 10.1. Beyond that, the team is looking to link its CAD product structures with an electronic BOM (bill of materials). Additionally, Variation management, improved integration with ERP is on its current to-do list.

KTM is experiencing growth across all facets of its product range. From the lower capacity bikes to the supermoto category and is currently Europe’s fastest growing motorcycle brand. Its alliance with Bajaj has given in 377% growth in Asia, but it’s also growing in other emerging markets such as Latin America and Africa. It has an impressive ambition in mind, to become Europe’s leading sport motorcycle brand in the next five years, with the volume goal of shipping 200,000 by 2017.