Assembly 2016 – Best Practice Conference in Düsseldorf with GfA attendance
Under the slogan "Humans, Systems, Processes", the 15th annual conference of Management Circle took place from 2 to 4 February. In a creative environment, scientists and industry representatives discussed future challenges and opportunities of modern and efficient assembly concepts. Key points of presentations and discussions included assembly process design, installation assistance systems, networking and sensor technology, training concepts and workplace ergonomics. GfA was this year one of three regional industrial companies, where participants could learn about successful best practice solutions on site and in real time.
GfA introduced participants to their assembly concept in the course of a presentation and a factory tour. Initially, the corporate philosophy by GfA of combining the complete value added under one roof attracted particular interest. Design, manufacture, assembly, logistics, sales and service are all located at headquarters in Düsseldorf. The benefits prevail despite higher costs at the high-wage location Germany. "Short routes and personal contacts allow for efficient coordination processes and quick decisions. The corporate culture also encourages creative processes," says Dr. Jörn Bohl, executive partner of GfA, explaining the benefits of this philosophy.
GfA introduced further formulas for success to participants under the following key considerations.
Diversity of variants
GfA offers a very wide range of variants and currently realises drive solutions from 30 to 5000 Nm output torque with a speed range from 2 to 350 min-1 for all common door types. This results in approximately 5000 different models of ELEKTROMATENⓇ. This is possible with six different gearbox series each with different gear ratios. Modular assembly concepts including other components such as electric motors, attachment components and manual emergency actuators are used to complete ELEKTROMATEN. In this regard, the compatibility between all components is vital. This method allows quick implementation even of unusual and particularly application-specific solutions. The appropriate documentation is available in 18 languages.
Supply availability and delivery performance
The customer base of GfA extends from small door construction specialists to international active door construction corporations. The requirements of customers range from special drives for individual applications to highly standardised high-volume products. At the same time, fluctuations in demand caused for example by seasonal needs, weather conditions or customer-specific ordering patterns must be considered. To achieve this, GfA has currently five assembly lines for series, variant and special drives. The Kanban principle is used for demand-driven loading of lines. A modern computerised production planning with control station that obtains permanent status feedback from lines ensures an efficient and trouble-free assembly process. This allows an output of up to 1000 drives a day. An additional and large-sized finished goods warehouse with about 5000 drives serves as buffer and allows instant retrieval of the 100 most important drive sizes. Overall, the average delivery time amounts to 4.4 days. The delivery performance is at 99.7 percent. Orders are confirmed usually within two days. Individual sales orders received at different times can be combined for single delivery. Upon request, GfA informs customers by E-mail about the progress of their orders, from production planning to delivery to the customer's address.
Quality is an increasingly important topic. To meet these requirements, GfA has incorporated a quality assurance system into the assembly process. The quality assurance software by IQS assumes various functions per cycle, including:
1. Operator guidance through touch panels with key process step specifications and
retrieval of assembly-related documents.
2. Automated material, completeness, position and functional tests with
immediate OK/NOK indication. - Feedback to operator (controlled process)
as well as documentation and storage of test results
3. Marking by barcode as well as scanning as basis of the traceability and clear
assignment of individual components to the overall product
The quality improved further by introducing IQS. The acceptance among skilled workers is good.
Customised supplier products represent a trend in customer behaviour. These products allow strengthening of their own brand and successful competition through differentiation. This may be a decisive advantage in a highly competitive market environment. Another trend is shifting own preliminary processes to the supplier (upstream management), as processes are often better integrated into existing infrastructure at the supplier. This results in time and cost advantages. At the same time, the company can focus on core competencies. GfA considers these customer requirements and offers both customised products as well as individualised logistics concepts (supply chain) tailored to the needs of the customer. Product branding is available ex-factory or by enclosing labels for a third distribution level. The compilation of individual customer shipments (sets) is carried out at specially designed workplaces. The complete drive technology for a door can be pre-picked from a pool of approximately 100 accessories. Drive, door control and safety devices such as optical sensors or motion detectors can be delivered just in sequence to a specific site for assembly. The accuracy and completeness of sets is ensured by the warehouse management system (LVS) designed in-house by GfA. Content and quantity errors are nearly all eliminated by scanning all components. New packaging was developed for efficient compilation and safe transport.
Following the factory tour, the participants had the opportunity to question what they have seen and provide feedback. Many participants have abundant experience as they also representatives of medium-sized high-tech companies. This resulted in a controversial and exciting discussion with words of approval, but also suggestions for improvement. GfA will seize the valuable suggestions and incorporate them into the continuous improvement process.
The annual conference Montage 2016 was a great success. The participant had the opportunity to absorb valuable ideas and stimuli for their own operational focus on assembly and discover potentials. GfA was able to contribute to this worthwhile event.