„Achieving more together“
Weidmüller: Bus bars, clamping yokes, terminal blocks and springs
As a global market leader in the field of Industrial Connectivity, the Weidmüller Group supplies customers from a wide range of industries with solutions in the fields of electronic connectivity and automation technology. For the production of stamped and bended parts based on the linear principle, the company uses the LEANTOOL system as standard to cut its tool costs and reduce time-to-market of its new development.
Sharing ideas and experiences in Detmold. How can setup processes be designed better? How can tools be used even more efficiently? The participants at a shared workshop at the Weidmüller Group headquarters discuss the use of the LEANTOOL system, offer tips and absorb new ideas from practical experience. “We are linked together by a very intensive, technically-focused partnership that has grown up over the years and in which we can work together in trust and confidence as equals”, explains André Pöhl, Head of Metal Toolmaking at the Weidmüller Group.
Wide product portfolio for electrical connectivity
Whether in the field of carmaking, power generation or water purification – electronics and electrical connectivity play a vital role in many sectors of industry. The market leader in this field is the Weidmüller group of companies which supplies some 60,000 different parts and components for the corresponding applications: from bus bars, through clamping yokes and on to terminal blocks and springs. The company manufactures anything up to 6.9 billion parts every year. “These parts, which are often very delicate and have complex geometries, must respect very narrowly defined tolerances even when produced in high quantities. To achieve this, we need an absolutely reliable production operation with robust processes”, says Dirk Hanke, Head of Mechanical Production. That is why for its stamping and bending requirements, the Weidmüller Group uses only technology from Otto Bihler Maschinenfabrik. Starting with a single Bihler RM 35 back in 1971, Weidmüller now operates 77 Bihler machines at its sites in Detmold and the Thuringian town of Wutha-Farnroda. “When it comes to stamping and bending technology, we need look no further than Bihler. We benefit enormously from the reliability of their machines, coupled with their robust tool and plant designs”, explains Pöhl.
Faster to market
The Weidmüller Group has been using a GRM-NC servo stamping and bending machine ever since 2013. In September 2019, this was joined by the LEANTOOL system for producing linear tools. This is a fully-specified modular tool system which, in 70 percent of cases, makes use of predefined, reusable standards. “The high level of standardization reduces tool costs compared to conventional tools. And what is becoming ever more important today, it greatly reduces the development time for new tools and hence also the time-to-market”, continues Hanke. With the LEANTOOL system, it is possible to work under production conditions as early as the development phase. This eliminates the extra time required for the manufacture of production tools – while maintaining the same quality level as for conventional tools. What is more, further time savings are achieved thanks to the setup process using a high-speed clamping system and the VC 1 controller.
Tangible potential for savings
The Weidmüller Group has now already used the Bihler LEANTOOL system to manufacture the tools for five bus bar and spring element projects involving nine components variants. In two of these projects, the tool system was used intensively as early as the development phase. “Naturally, we had to familiarize ourselves with the system and gather experience. Despite this, the potential for savings through to achievement of product maturity was noticeable. In the future, things will undoubtedly go even faster and we will be able to make the switch from product development to series production in half the time”, says Hanke with conviction. He also considers the intensive accompaniment by the Otto Bihler Maschinenfabrik support team during the start phase and the training received by Weidmüller’s engineers at Bihler in Halblech to be key factors in the successful introduction of the system. And the current workshop is making a further contribution to optimizing the processes.
Setting the direction for the future
The next two development projects due to be implemented on the GRM-NC using tools manufactured with the LEANTOOL system have now been identified. “We want to gradually extend this approach and plan to commission another GRM-NC in combination with the LEANTOOL system in our production department in two or three years time”, says Pöhl looking to the future. He sums up the current experience as follows: “For us, the systems helps us to meet the twin goals of developing products faster and more economically and launching them on the market at a high level of maturity. In this way, we are ideally equipped for the future.”
The Weidmüller group of companies supports its customers and partners worldwide with products. Solutions and services in the industrial power, signals and data fields. It develops and manufactures innovative, sustainable, value-added electronic engineering and electrical connectivity solutions for customers in a range of sectors and markets. The company, which was founded in 1850, now possesses production facilities, sales companies and agencies in more than 80 countries. In the 2019 financial year, Weidmüller achieved turnover of 830 million euros with a workforce of approximately 5,000 employees.