„Significant efficiency boost“
PHOENIX FEINBAU: Increased cycle times by up to 260 percent
At the end of 2022, PHOENIX FEINBAU, a member of the Phoenix Contact Group, invested in a RM-NC. This step went hand-in-hand with the transfer of products from the earlier cam-controlled Bihler machines to the new servo-controlled RM-NC. This has increased cycle times for the selected products by up to 260 percent while also more than halving setup times and is intended to replace three existing in-house RM 40 systems after a project lead time of approximately one year. The company has benefited from the enormous increase in performance for small, mid-sized and also high-volume runs.
Phoenix Feinbau GmbH & Co. KG in the German city of Lüdenscheid has been manufacturing stamped parts, stamped-and-bended parts and plastic products since 1939, that is to say for more than 80 years. The majority of these parts are springs of various shapes and sizes that are installed in electronic components and products. The company, whose workforce of some 900 employees now produces exclusively for the Phoenix Contact Group, owes its decades-long success to a clear strategy: “As a long-established part of the Phoenix Contact Group, we achieve a particularly high level of vertical integration and value-added and this makes us relatively independent of our suppliers. The very high delivery performance that this has allowed us to achieve meant, for example, that we were able to further grow our sales during the pandemic,” explains Bernd Simanski, Group Head for Stamping and Bending Operations at Phoenix Feinbau. “We also have a very service-oriented approach and offer single-source, end-to-end solutions – from the initial development inquiry, through design and tool manufacture and on to production,” adds Sascha Plate, Workshop Supervisor at Phoenix Feinbau.
Extensive Bihler machine pool
Bihler has also made a vital contribution to Phoenix Feinbau’s outstanding performance capabilities. The two companies have been working together since the late 1970s and Phoenix Feinbau now has a total of more than 60 Bihler systems. “Then as now, the great advantage of our Bihler systems lies in the fact that they offer outstanding versatility at low tool costs. At the same time, they also permit extremely material-efficient production,” stresses Simanski. “Even now, the extremely complex setup processes demand good, highly qualified personnel, whereas more modern systems require excellent programming rather than mechanically oriented skills in order to achieve the significantly faster cycle times.”
Clearly defined targets
In early 2022, in its desire to significantly boost its manufacturing efficiency in this product sector, the company decided to introduce Bihler’s NC technology by acquiring a RM-NC stamping-and-forming machine. “Our aim was to transfer production from the mechanical RM 40 system to the RM-NC and in this way not just cut setup times from eight to three or four hours but also to increase the machine cycle speed from 60 to up to 220,” confirm both Simanski and Plate. To do this, the company adapted a number of its existing tools for use on the new RM-NC, which commenced test operation in September 2022. It started by manufacturing a very wide range of trial components of differing geometries and made from different materials – from spring clips, tension springs and oversprings, through PCB stops and on to plug connectors.
An enthusiastic workforce
The new NC technology has been particularly well received by the younger employees. As machine fitter Daniel Reinhardt and toolmaker David Tlatlik report: “It’s great fun working with this technology. You can design the workflows as you want and are no longer bound by the cams. What’s more, the fiddly adjustment operations that you had to do in the past are now mostly possible just by pushing a button.” Six fully adapted tools are now being used on the new RM-NC, which has already produced approximately eleven million parts. “We are benefiting from both the shorter setup times and the increased throughput,” stresses Simanski. The decision has already been made to adapt another eight tools. And that, too, will be well worthwhile: “The costs of adapting the tools pay for themselves within a year thanks to the increased throughput and the shortened setup times,” explains Simanski.
Further replacement planned
The company looks back equally positively on its decision to acquire Bihler NC technology: “The decision to enter the world of Bihler NC technology was absolutely right for us and we have benefited from it in many different ways,” is how Simanski and Plate sum things up. “Our aim is to invest in another RM-NC and replace some of our existing RM 40 machines – but not all of them: We will keep the RM 40 systems that we use for large-scale production in the future.”
Phoenix Feinbau GmbH & Co. KG
Phoenix Feinbau GmbH & Co. KG is a metalworking company based in Lüdenscheid, Germany. The company has more than 80 years of experience in the metalworking industry. The workforce of almost 900 manufactures metal stamped and stamped-and-bended parts as well as plastic parts used in the manufacture of electronic components and products for the Phoenix Contact Group. Operating under an umbrella brand name, Phoenix Contact supplies innovative products, solutions and digitalization skills for the electrification, networking and automation of every industrial and infrastructural sector. In this way, the family-run company is supporting industry and society in the transformation to a sustainable world with long-term growth opportunities for all. Phoenix Contact has a workforce of around 22,000 employees and achieved sales of 3.6 billion euros in 2022. It manufactures in a production network spread across eleven countries with varying levels of vertical integration.