Gentherm is a global leader and developer of innovative thermal management technology. Their mission is to create and deliver extraordinary thermal solutions that make meaningful differences in everyday life, by which improving health, wellness, comfort, and energy efficiency. Having offices in 26 locations worldwide, Gentherm is extremely well positioned, with broad global reach and strong manufacturing capabilities. Gentherm’s core areas of focus are:
- Climate Controlled Seats & Interior Heating
- ClimateSense™ Innovative Microclimate Solutions
- Battery Thermal Management
- Medical Patient Thermal Management Solutions
- Electronics and Software Systems
Challenges and Needs
A broad base of innovative products requires advanced lifecycle management systems for product definitions and related documentation. Such systems usually used for storing and managing, among others, service instructions, specifications, and the Bill of Material – a structure and construction which reflects how the product is built.
Gentherm expected a solution that would be intuitive and fast, regardless of the region of the world in which the user was located. The change of hosting provider was an opportunity to improve systems and provide the expected performance across multiple environments and sites.
A solution was needed that would reduce server running time and thus optimize cloud usage costs whereas at the same time give the flexibility to spin up the environment on demand.
For the PLM program and systems to meet their own expectations, Gentherm had to consider a significantly different approach.
TTPSC gave a proposal to resolve Gentherm’s issues through a combination of data migration, Cloud governance, and automation aimed at cost optimization.
Initially, three possible migration scenarios were considered:
- “Lift and shift” – moving systems to a new environment as-is, unchanged.
- Migration along with system version upgrade.
- “Fresh start” – updating existing software followed by cleansing and transferring all data to a new system built according to best practices.
The last of those options, although posing most apparent risk due to challenges resulting from a complete Windchill to Windchill data migration and rebuilding existing configuration and customization in the target environment, also held most promise to provide optimal effects – based on TTPSC’s experience. It was ultimately selected by Gentherm as the path forward.
Amazon Web Services (AWS) was selected as the target cloud due to best solution maturity and service quality at that time. All environments were built using templates, giving Gentherm the ability to create new servers quickly and at any time – on demand. The time needed for such activities was thus reduced from several weeks at a time with their previous hosting provider, to a few hours at most, spanning the entirety of the process: from requesting an environment to users being able to start using it.
The development and deployment processes were fully automated using DevOps practices and tools such as Jenkins and SonarQube hosted in serverless containers. The result was enabling much more efficient Change Management across various systems, including significantly decreasing the time needed for any changes to be validated, accepted, and deployed to production systems.
Consistency of solutions deployed across various environments was ensured through automated reverting of systems to pre-change statuses and cloning servers from existing backups on demand. This also had a positive effect on the overall quality of delivered code and applications.
The high consistency between servers and the high quality of this solution has been ensured by, the automated revert of the environments (revert to pre-change status) and the cloning of the server from the on-demand production backup.
Most processes are currently supported using Atlassian’s suite of tools, including:
- Jira – issue tracking and development project management
- Jira ServiceDesk – SLA control and issue reporting system
- BitBucket – code repository
A semi-automatic mechanism for implementing system changes without having to reboot those systems, nicknamed “FastTrack,” was also introduced.
Gentherm’s Navigate system was enhanced with new Document View and Cloud Instance Management capabilities
The application was named AWS Cloud Scheduler aimed at reducing Cloud infrastructure costs and was built using PTC ThingWorx platform.
Through an easy-to-use interface, it enabled the management of “complete” environments (i.e. qa, test, and development) including manual and automated starting, stopping of systems, with flexible scheduling capabilities. Thanks to such a mechanism, unused and non-essential environments would be stopped, thus resulting in them not generating unnecessary costs still available on demand whenever needed without the support of the hosting provider.
Systems are integrated using a Single Sign-On solution, allowing users to utilize both Windchill and ThingWorx Navigate’s capabilities using a single login to all systems (eliminating the need for separately entering credentials to each one). This solution was based on serverless container technology.
The ultimate result achieved through executing the project is ensuring Gentherm’s satisfaction with their systems, which created further plans for development and enhancements of implemented solutions. The feedback we received regarding the functioning and accessibility of various systems is outstanding and fully meets Gentherm’s expectations.
Such results were achieved thanks to establishing a properly operating system with short loading times, eliminating any trace of earlier technical issues with accessibility. The solution has successfully undergone an external security audit, further confirming its high quality.
Among value brought to Gentherm, it may be easy to overlook non-quantifiable gains such as facilitating and improving the work of many users across the system through its better responsiveness. Overall, this resulted in increased efficiency and job satisfaction while reducing implementation costs.
The solution significantly improved the flow of data within Gentherm’s organization. Furthermore, thanks to advanced automation and effort from TTPSC, the actual cost was lower than anticipated.
Through meeting and exceeding Gentherm’s expectations and establishing an efficient collaboration model, TTPSC helped Gentherm not only achieve its business goals but also laid the foundation for planning a near-future expansion of the system to cover completely new areas and provide new functionalities.