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Just in front

Vosseler Umformtechnik
uses know-how from BRANKAMP

An increase in productivity of 15 percent? With „zero defects“? This is still possible today, even on the most modern production line. Take ESKA GmbH in Chemnitz as an example. The secret of their success: The clever use of a ProcessMonitoring system - the „BRANKAMP Rotators“ - to solve a seemingly unsolvable problem - until then.

VW's 'Transparent Factory' in Dresden is a symbol of transparency in the production process. The methods used by Vosseler Umformtechnik Gmbh in Thuringia may not be as spectacular. Yet, transparency is assured through a state of the art BDE-System. This allows the chief executive in Hildburghausen to store all central data on hard drive. Much more important, however, is this: Operating manager, Arno Schmidt, uses this information on a daily basis like no other - and used it to advance Vosseler far into the forefront. Vosseler Umformtechnik GmbH employs around 90 people who will generate a business volume of almost 12 million Euros in the current year - this is the ambitious goal for 2003 at any rate. This optimism is more than justified due to the developments of the past year. Exactly ten years ago, there were merely 13 people working in the newly established Vosseler facilities in Hildburghausen. But there has been a rapid rise since then. In the meantime, the Thuringians supply practically all important automobile manufacturers, as well as other markets in the machine and building construction industries. The spectrum of parts produced encompasses around 1,000 different products. Absolute top quality only, is the basis for Plant Manager, Arno Schmidt (aged 50) - zero defects are now required almost always and everywhere. „Above all, the decisive factor for us, when it comes to competition, is customer service“, says Schmidt.

Transparency in the production process is a competitive advantage

At the same time, modern operating data collection plays a key role for Schmidt. The reason: „I can keep our customers reliably informed at all times about what is being delivered and when because the BDE-System ensures that I have all important information continually at hand.“ In practice, explains Schmidt, it also helps to bring in very simple orders because „we are often the first to be asked due to the fact that our customers receive a very quick, precise answer from us.“ Arno Schmidt has invested his heart and soul into forming technology. As Plant Manager, he has now been in a position of responsibility at Vosseler Umformtechnik for 10 years. In 1992, he even planned the Vosseler plant from the ground up, himself, in close coordination with the company headquarters in Aldingen. If need be, the 50-year-old could operate any machine to this day - prior to earning his degree in Mechanical Engineering, he accumulated enough experience in 10 years of 3-shift operations.

Staying up to date, even at the breakfast table

Yet, for some time now, the most important tool for the full-blooded metal worker is the comprehensive BDE-System in the Hildburghausen plant. Schmidt even logs in to Vosseler's Intranet via PC at the breakfast table - and this already gives him an overview of the most important operating data from his own home: „This gives me peace of mind because, while driving to work, I already know exactly what went on that night and what is scheduled for that day.“ Five years ago, Schmidt introduced the BDE-System from the Erkrath-based company, BRANKAMP, as a first step at Vosseler. Today, practically the entire production facility is networked through a BRANKAMP DC 5000 system - this includes almost 70 machines from the cold flow press to the multi-spindle machine. As Plant Manager, Arno Schmidt is permanently in the middle of the production process, even when he works mainly from his office. „I have the most important data continuously displayed on the monitor there.“ For Schmidt, this is primarily the so-called „Shop floor overview“ For this, the BRANKAMP system delivers a current graphic depiction of all machines and provides information at one glance as to where production is underway, which machines are at a standstill or which are not operating at full capacity. With just a few clicks, the plant manager has access to the next information: A „Stop-and-Go“ diagram provides a quick picture of the latest developments in production, while the manager has continuous access to current utilization factor and capacity-related reports on his PC.

BDE-System as motor for improvements

This transparency yields invaluable advantages, but not only from the customer's perspective. „The BDE-System is also a perpetual motor for internal improvement as well“, says Schmidt. This is because all problems arising since introduction of the BRANKAMP system are precisely documented and analyzed - a better foundation for problem-solving cannot be found. For this reason, Schmidt encourages his entire team to make permanent use of the current data available at the BDE machine terminals or the BDE division terminal in the production department. „I often drop by to take a look at the on-site data“, Schmidt discloses. The result: The employees gain first-hand experience as to what really matters in day-to-day operations and are increasingly capable of using the information provided by the BDE-System for themselves.

Just one example from many: If the operator with the aid of the BDE-System can see and verify that an unusual number of stops have been recorded on a particular machine, this is a clear indication for everyone that a fundamental technical problem exists with the parts produced. „At the same time, this transparency also inspires a form of healthy competition among the teams“, asserts Schmidt. Then, when different teams manufacture the same part, there should not be a great degree of variance in productivity.

Entry into hot forming planned

Not least on this basis, the Thuringians believe they are well prepared today for the next step towards the future. Henceforth, Vosseler Umformtechnik GmbH will be active in the hot forming market. The new hall structure required for this already exists and the first multi-stage press from Hatebur will begin operations at the Hildburghausen site already this year. As Schmidt does not like to leave anything to chance, he will be taking a very close look at this machine, as well, starting at breakfast. Until today's optimum is achieved and tomorrow's outlook is for continual enhancement.


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