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Fuel-cell maker accelerates time-to-market with PLM

Burnaby, B.C.-based Ballard Power Systems Inc. develops, manufactures, sells and services hydrogen fuel cells, with annual revenue of US$65.53 million. The company’s products are used today in various markets, from materials handling to residential cogeneration, backup power and transportation. As an innovator in the clean energy industry with 485 employees, Ballard works to accelerate fuel cell product adoption.

THE CHALLENGE: Given the nature of its industry, the company needs to remain on the leading edge of the fuel cell industry and foster market adoption. In order to maintain its competitiveness, it must improve operational efficiency to reduce costs and accelerate time-to-market for fuel cell products – and position the company for significant product volume growth.

THE STRATEGY: Ballard implemented Oracle’s Agile Product Lifecycle Management solutions to create a central repository for product data, including Agile Product Collaboration and Product Quality Management." Additionally, they added Oracle’s Hyperion Planning, a centralized, Excel and Web-based planning, budgeting and forecasting solution that integrates financial and operational planning processes and improves business predictability. They also use Hyperion Analyzer to provide intuitive Web analysis.

THE RESULTS:
After the implementation, the company streamlined its end-to-end process from product design through manufacturing, accelerating time-to-market. "As the fuel cell industry really takes off, we need to be prepared with a scalable, flexible system to meet the demands of significant product volume increases," Paul Louw, manager of design services and configuration management, says. "We trust Oracle’s Agile applications will enable us to meet those demands."

Among the results, it increased access to product data and improved data accuracy and currency; enabled users to create product change requests directly, accelerating the approval process and reducing delays; and increased the ability to react to changing markets by enabling it to modify or create new products quickly to meet demands. The software created a new workflow to handle product fixtures and prototypes, enabling the company to react quickly to problems with products in the field or to customer change requests, and it enabled fixtures and prototypes users to purchase new parts or send drawings to vendors without clogging the material requirements planning system. Overall, the new system ensures appropriate approvals and documentation control without stalling the product manufacturing cycle.
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