Surface Specialties UCB Rolls Out Product Development System

Implementation at 12 locations designed to streamline innovation process for specialty chemicals manufacturer


Implementation at 12 locations designed to streamline innovation process for specialty chemicals manufacturer

London and Minneapolis, MN — September 23, 2004 — Sopheon, an international software and services company, announced today that Surface Specialties UCB, manufacturer of resins, films and adhesives for surface applications, is deploying Sopheon's Accolade product development system in Europe, the United States and Asia. The effort involves 12 locations in 8 countries.

Surface Specialties said it is using the system as the backbone for a structured, measurable process aimed at improving productivity, increasing revenue generated from new products and deriving more value from its product portfolio. It has set a goal of achieving a 20 percent productivity gain in 2004 and a 10 percent increase annually thereafter.

UCB Group created Surface Specialties in 2003 by combining its existing chemicals and films divisions with the resins, additives and adhesives offerings obtained through its acquisition of the resins business of Solutia. The newly formed business unit subsequently decided to enhance its innovation process by implementing Stage-Gate, a widely used product development methodology.

Surface Specialties sought to formalize and automate the process through the use of software technology. The organization conducted a competitive review of five product life cycle management (PLM) solutions and selected Sopheon's Accolade, based primarily on ease-of-use, high user acceptance, its ability to strengthen portfolio management, and its compatibility with the Stage-Gate process.

Following a brief pilot implementation, Surface Specialties completed roll out of the system in 90 days.

"The economic slowdown, our growth through acquisition and our focus on new applications areas together presented a clear opportunity to craft and deploy a product development system that would build on our legacy of innovation and reputation for technical excellence," said Jan Vandendriessche, global R&D director of Surface Specialties.

Bau Michelet, innovation process manager of Surface Specialties, added that the results from the pilot and roll-out implementations validated Accolade's suitability to Surface Specialty's needs. "It met all of our objectives for increasing collaboration, creating transparency around project progress, supporting key go/no go, prioritization and acceleration decisions, and providing flexibility and user friendliness," Michelet said. "We believe that Accolade will ensure the success of our introduction of a world-class innovation process."

Surface Specialties UCB said it sought a framework that would allow it to manage its product development efforts from idea generation to post-commercialization. Its Accolade deployment includes a process modeler that automates the product development process and has best-practices content to enable a successful implementation. Additionally, it has idea management tools to capture, track and evaluate product ideas; resource planning capabilities that allow executives and teams to see where and when to allocate project resources; and portfolio management functionality that supports the early identification of product winners and losers.

While all companies must produce new products, specialty chemical companies must do so continuously to combat product commoditization and profit erosion, Surface Specialties said. Specialty chemical producers spend between 4 and 8 percent of revenues on product research and development, while the typical manufacturer spends less than 3 percent. Therefore, the company said, achieving productivity in innovation is a critical challenge. Studies have determined that best-in-class specialty chemical companies typically derive 35 percent of revenue from products introduced in the last five years compared to 20 percent for average companies within the industry.

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