Some of the most important parts in a vehicle are often overlooked and taken for granted. A good example is the side door latch, which has a spring-loaded mechanism that retracts to open the door and, upon release of the door handle, protrudes to keep the door closed.

Kiekert AG is the world’s leading manufacturer of side door latches in the automotive sector. It has produced more than 1.9 billion latches for automotive OEMs around the globe since 1857.

With such high production comes the need for efficiency at each of the company’s eight manufacturing plants worldwide. Equally important, Kiekert has significantly expanded its product portfolio in recent years to address market trends like e-mobility and autonomous driving.

All of these factors recently led the company to replace its outdated product data management (PDM) system with the CIM Database from Contact Software. This product lifecycle management (PLM) platform enables Kiekert to fully support its product-innovation projects, says Franz Nienhaus, global PLM project manager at Kiekert.

“Global data management is increasingly important for collaboration in the development process,” explains Nienhaus. “The previous PDM system was neither multi-CAD-capable nor did it meet [our] additional PLM requirements.”

Two other factors increase the complexity of product development at Kiekert. One is the growing presence of electronics and software in each product. The other is the company’s extensive number of development teams around the world.

Nienhaus says that Kiekert selected the CIM Database because it ensures better collaboration and quicker project completion. Also, product-relevant information is more complete, consistent and accessible to all key departments in the company.

The open, modular and configurable architecture of the software makes it possible to implement specific requirements without any programming. In addition, the database server automatically derives and provides data in standard formats such as 3D pdf.

“By introducing the database as an integration platform, we expect further increases in product development,” says Nienhaus. “The companywide connection of our various software is a major step to further improve efficiency.”

Contact implemented the PLM platform this past spring with help from its partner Bosch Engineering. Overall, a total of 700,000 Catia files, 400,000 articles and 2,000 projects from five applications were merged.

According to Nienhaus, central business processes have been digitalized and automated, resulting in approval processes that are about 20 percent faster. Data loading times have been reduced by 40 percent, another benefit to database users.

In the near future, Kiekert plans to include requirements-management and model-based-systems-engineering information in the CIM Database for staff members. They, in turn, can link it to CAD data and other project documents.

Last year, Kiekert unveiled its latest access and latch system called NuEntry. This platform includes the company’s door-drive system actiMOVE, according to Dr. Klaus Hense, executive vice president for product development at Kiekert. ActiMOVE automatically opens and closes side doors, making it ideally suited for electric and autonomous vehicles.

Open standard and open source software from Contact make it easy for manufacturers to reliably execute processes and collaborate with others using virtual product models and their digital twins. For more information, call 49-421-20153-44 or visit