In 1924, Albrecht Schnitzler constructed the first hand-held drill, laying the foundation for today‘s Metabowerke GmbH. This company with a long tradition was acquired by Hitachi Koki, part of the Japanese Hitachi Group, in March 2016. Globally Metabowerke, manufacturer of professional power tools and accessories has 1,900 employees, 1,100 of whom work at its headquarters in Nürtingen near Stuttgart, Germany.
In the Housing Manufacturing area at Metabowerke, various hand-operated measuring tools are in use that were previously connected via cables. Not only did this limit employees’ mobility, but the cables often broke, further reducing system reliability. On top of this, data captured on the ‘old’ system could not be cached, which significantly increased the inspectors’ workload if the measuring process was interrupted for any reason. Equally problematic was the fact that it was relatively time-consuming for employees to statistically evaluate any measurement errors. This made troubleshooting difficult and further prolonged the measuring process. The measurement plans created for each of the approximately 500 manufactured workpieces were printed out specially for employees. These printouts were then brought to the individual workstations, which meant there was sometimes a substantial time delay before measuring technicians could implement the changes.
“Now these problems are a thing of the past,” says Achim Schmid, Quality Coordinator at the Housing Technology Center. “These days, if an employee is measuring the gearbox housing of a flat-head angle grinder, they just open the corresponding measurement plan in the ZEISS software. The employee moves the cursor to the appropriate field in the table and, with the push of a button, transfers this data from the manual measuring tool to the system. If the value is within the stipulated tolerance, then a green dot appears immediately. If a red dot is displayed, the measuring technician works on identifying the defect. It used to be the case that the employee would have to change software and then search for the corresponding data set in the statistics solution. Now they can view the measurement values for the previous 500 measurements just by using the report templates in ZEISS PiWeb. “This way our team sees immediately if this is an outlier or if there is a trend towards exceeded tolerances,” says Schmid.
In addition to keeping the measurement plans up to date, employees no longer have to collect the necessary data for controlling their processes from different systems. “Now all our data are stored centrally,” says Schmid. “Moreover, the layout of the ZEISS PiWeb reports are easier to use as compared to the previous solution, so we can see where the problems are more quickly.” And that’s not all. The ZEISS solution has also helped this mid-sized company improve machine uptime. As part of a pilot project, the company analyzed the measuring data in ZEISS PiWeb and identified four process-relevant characteristics for a workpiece, enabling them to speed up the set-up time for the manufacturing machines. If these are within tolerance, then serial production begins immediately. For the Head Foreman in Production, Uwe Forschner, one thing is clear: “The shorter setup times are already a big step towards the efficient manufacture of very small batch sizes, which would definitely increase our competitiveness.”
For more information: www.zeiss.com