Industry 4.0 is no sorcery but enables hp polytechnik, the medium-sized supply component supplier in Iserlohn, to be competitive in the future – thanks to support by SmartFactoryOWL in the East Westphalian town of Lemgo, one of the most modern research factories in the world. Employees play a significant role on the “journey to digitisation of the working environment”.
Large monitors hang over the workplaces in the production building of hp polytechnik where until a short while ago there were still technical paper drawings in AO format spread out. Digitisation has already started at the company for sheet metal processing in Iserlohn. “We can and want to be open to the so-called Industry 4.0,” says Matthias Hellebrandt together with Traugott Penderok, founder and managing director of the company. The first stage of this journey was to install hp polytechnikPDA terminals via which the entire manufacturing times are automatically transmitted to a SAP system. The company has been taking the next steps together with the research and demonstration factory SmartFactoryOWL for several months now.
Support by SmartFactoryOWL
The cooperation began with a visit to Lemgo. The managing director and production manager were both impressed by what they experienced at the research factory. In particular as the models can be adjusted to the respective requirements of small and medium-sized enterprises. After that the engineers at SmartFactory carried out a quick check and potential analysis for the company which showed the employees from Iserlohn various initial optimisation possibilities. “We were given many suggestions and competent support. And all that free of charge including the quick check and potential analysis,” said Traugott Penderok For further details on the cooperation as well as the SmartFactory please read on here…]
“The automation of assembly processes is not possible for us in the way we saw in Lemgo, however, we found the idea of visualisation excellent and have applied this to our requirements in the form of production monitors, “Matthias Hellebrandt explains.
Efficiency and quality increased by visualisation
With a mouse click at one of the workplaces foreman Mehmed Balat transfers the technical details of a component onto the large monitor and discusses the next steps of the bending technology with an employee. For this purpose he simply zooms in further details so that the employee can read the relevant measurements and see how the bending operations are to be carried out. With a further click the monitor shows the complete technical drawings again. In less than a minute details are clarified and the employee knows exactly what to watch out for in the bending process. The advantages of the new technology: Nothing must be looked for and printed out. By zooming in individual parts and worksteps the employees can work more accurately and faster. The digital drawings are available at any time and not only during office hours as they used to be. This way any employee can at any time call up process-related information such as inspection plans, packaging instructions or product photos from the database. Especially the late shift benefits from this. “By digitalizing our entire customer drawings we save time during work processes and increase quality. After the introduction of SAP Business One this was the next big step,” says Dominic Rose, responsible for IT and strategic questions and adds, “This is good for the customers and makes us more competitive”.
hp polytechnikhas been working successfully in the highly competitive market of sheet metal processing for over 20 years. The company in Iserlohn has expanded to 80 employees and eight apprentices. The aim is to increase quality assurance by digitalisation as well as reduce lead times and costs. This contributes to remaining competitive and retaining jobs in the long term. “Customer behaviour has changed in the past few years. The order volume has risen continuously, but orders are becoming more and more small-scale. This increases data volumes and therefore also costs. Digitalising our production and working conditions will compensate for this,“ says Rose.
Employees involved in digitalisation right from the beginning
The employees are open to new developments. For the management and superiors it is of great importance to inspire all the employees on the road to more digitalisation and automation. “Right from the start we involved our employees in the process. They know our digital strategy and go along with it,“ Matthias Hellebrandt explains and adds, “Workplaces and processes will change in the next few years, but employees are the most important part of the company and will always be needed. This is what we are trying to convey to them.” During the introduction of the production monitors there were also sceptics. However, parallel to the innovations, the management trained the employees intensively and gave them time to get used to the new technology. That way they no longer feared automation. The result: After a very short time most of them cannot imagine working without monitors and digital plans.
The journey to the digital age has started successfully. hp polytechnik has already planned the next steps with the help of SmartFactory.