Getting product lifecycle management (PLM) right is essential for manufacturers of all types. It enables them to consistently deliver safe products and stay competitive as technologies and market landscapes shift. But it’s also a challenge, requiring agility and intention to adopt new technologies and shift best practices.

Dräger knows this challenge all too well. Founded in 1889 in Lübeck, Germany, Dräger is a globally recognized manufacturer specializing in medical and safety technology. Dräger’s innovations span anesthesia workstations, ventilators, respiratory protection gear, and gas detection systems.

As the company scaled over time, Dräger’s technology stack became increasingly fragmented, resulting in inefficiencies, unnecessary complexity, and high IT costs. To build on the success of the company’s storied history — and usher in the next 140 years of innovation — Dräger needed to modernize its PLM processes to streamline operations, enhance data security, and significantly reduce IT costs.

Legacy PDM led to data fragmentation and high costs

From the mid-1990s onward, Dräger’s medical and safety divisions used separate instances of Oracle’s Agile e6 product data management (PDM) system. This fostered a highly fragmented data management landscape, which consequently led to inefficiencies, added complexity, and increased costs in IT operations due to maintaining disparate systems and connections.

The medical technology division primarily used SolidWorks for computer-aided design (CAD), while the safety technology division relied on PTC Creo. Both divisions utilized AutoCAD, Mentor Allegro, and E-Plan ECAD systems alongside various software development tools. This diverse array of tools significantly burdened Dräger with data replication and infrastructure costs, further complicating their approach to PLM.

Unfortunately, the customization of Oracle Agile e6 over time made the system inflexible and unable to meet Dräger’s evolving technical requirements. System updates were expensive and time-consuming, increasing operational costs and decreasing efficiency. The need for a more adaptable and scalable PLM solution became evident as Dräger sought to enhance security, scalability, and performance while reducing IT costs.

Operating with these disjointed systems also posed challenges for compliance with global regulations. Dräger’s products, especially those in the medical sector, required rigorous documentation and adherence to regulatory standards. The fragmented systems made it difficult to maintain consistent documentation and track compliance across different regions, risking potential regulatory breaches and operational disruptions.

Dräger seeks a unified, scalable, and customizable PLM solution

Dräger recognized the need for a comprehensive PLM solution and sought a platform to unify its medical and safety divisions under one system. Scalability and customization were crucial criteria, as the platform needed to integrate seamlessly with various applications and configure customer-specific processes without incurring prohibitive costs.

The desired PLM platform had to handle multi-CAx environments and offer customization capabilities to address the unique requirements of the medical and safety divisions. Controlling data storage locations was also imperative because Dräger manufactures many safety-related products for the military sector, where the product data must not leave its respective country.

Dräger also required a solution to digitize and streamline document-heavy processes, particularly for regulatory documentation such as Electronic Design History Files (EDHF). The platform had to support efficient workflow management, ensuring tasks and data could flow seamlessly between various stages of the product lifecycle, improving overall productivity and reducing time-to-market.

Achieving seamless integration and enhanced efficiency

Enter Aras. Dräger selected Aras Innovator® as its new PLM system for its robust integration capabilities, ease of customization, and cost-effective upgrade process.

Dräger implemented Aras with a phased approach, which began with replicating existing functionalities from Oracle Agile e6. This gradual transition allowed Dräger to minimize disruptions while steadily improving system integration and collaboration across divisions.

Shifting to digital workflows

One of the critical successes with Aras Innovator was the development of Electronic Design History Files (EDHF). This digital workflow replaced the previously paper-based process, significantly enhancing efficiency, transparency, and auditability. The EDHF process went live within six months, showcasing the Aras platform’s rapid adaptability and implementation capabilities.

By digitizing document-heavy processes, Dräger achieved faster project documentation and management, reducing the time and effort required for regulatory compliance. The company also plans to scan and migrate paper archives to the digital system, ensuring all documents are accessible electronically. This move not only improves efficiency but also enhances data integrity and traceability.

The benefits of customization

Aras Innovator’s customization capabilities were particularly beneficial for Dräger. The platform allowed for extensive tailoring to meet the specific needs of the medical and safety divisions. Unlike other PLM solutions that impose rigid frameworks, Aras Innovator empowered Dräger to adapt the system to their existing business processes, improving user adoption and satisfaction.

IT cost reductions and improved data security

The transition to Aras Innovator resulted in substantial IT cost savings for Dräger. The company no longer needed to maintain separate infrastructures for its medical and safety divisions, reducing overhead and complexity. By unifying all development-related data under one system, Dräger improved synchronization between divisions, which previously incurred unnecessarily high costs due to data replication and manual integration efforts.

The cloud-based platform provided by Aras Innovator enhanced data security and scalability. Dräger’s end-users could access their workstations and CAD systems via Citrix, which streamed only the necessary data, improving data transfer efficiency and security. Eliminating data replication further reduced IT overhead, allowing Dräger to allocate resources more effectively.

Embracing the future of digitalization

The successful implementation of Aras Innovator positioned Dräger to embrace future digitalization opportunities. The platform’s flexibility and customization capabilities allowed the company to explore additional applications beyond traditional PLM. For instance, Dräger leveraged the platform to manage data related to their Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) initiatives, integrating action plans and risk assessments within the same system.

By embracing Aras Innovator, Dräger not only streamlined their PLM processes but also set the stage for future growth and innovation. The platform’s robust, scalable solution supported Dräger’s ongoing digital transformation, enhancing overall operational efficiency and ensuring compliance with global regulations.

A foundation for continued innovation and growth

Dräger’s experience with Aras Innovator demonstrates the transformative power of a robust, scalable PLM solution in driving organizational success and maintaining industry leadership. Aras Innovator transformed the company’s approach to product lifecycle management, providing a unified, scalable, and customizable platform that meets the company’s evolving needs. The partnership yielded significant benefits, including improved efficiency, reduced IT costs, enhanced data security, and more streamlined operations.

The successful migration and implementation laid a solid foundation for continued innovation and digitalization, positioning Dräger to remain at the forefront of the medical and safety technology industry.

The company plans to continue leveraging Aras Innovator to enhance its medical device PLM processes and beyond, continually exploring and exploiting new digital opportunities. The platform’s flexibility and customization capabilities will enable Dräger to adapt to future business needs and regulatory changes, ensuring sustained efficiency and compliance.

At this point, thanks in part to its partnership with Aras, the next 135 years of Dräger’s business look just as bright as the first.

Learn how other leading organizations modernized PLM practices with Aras.