Flexible, Fast, Easy: MDM Throughout the Entire Supply Chain Thanks to Neo4j

The Challenge

Schleich supports a wide range of heterogeneous data structures that have grown over time. Its toys are subject to strict legal rules and require extensive material management – from the first draft of a figure through its production to sales. Data on, for example, individual toy parts, their quality standards and country-specific regulations, materials, production tools and their components all have to be maintained. The data comes into Schleich’s product data management (PDM) system – which handles the master data management (MDM) of its product data – from various sources, such as component manufacturer and suppliers’ systems, and different countries. Staff at Schleich use this complex data throughout the entire value chain for their work.

The previous PDM system was developed by Schleich many years ago and adapted to its needs. This system offered an integrated product data network, but its generic user interface often handled data in an intricate way. Administration was somewhat laborious, and the PDM no longer matched the company’s requirements for greater flexibility, performance and easier operation.

The Solution

When developing a flexible, scalable system, Schleich chose Neo Technology, the developer of leading graph database Neo4j, and its partner and IT specialists Structr. The new PDM system – based on Structr’s open-source software platform, with Neo4j as the central database – drastically simplifies and speeds up the development of software solutions. Individually optimized user interfaces only take a couple of days to create. Interfaces with other systems guarantee a high degree of integration. The Structr graph application platform enables mini-apps to be specially developed for the particular requirements of Schleich’s staff. Its specialist departments can access the functional modules via individual user interfaces, which is a real boost for acceptance.

“All data is tucked away behind the applications concerned and consolidated in Neo4j,“ said Axel Morgner, Managing Director of Structr GmbH. “The mini-apps are tailored to user groups and each have a different interface and operating method.“ Apps can be created quickly, with flexible front-ends for web and mobile devices. And it is here that the flexibility and speed of Neo4j is such an advantage. Multi-user operation is also possible in large departments without any problems, so users can work on the systems in parallel. Changes to laws can also be quickly and easily assessed for their impact.

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