„Optimize your processes“
Cutting production costs, raising production rates and exploiting cost-saving opportunities – these are the primary objectives of process optimization efforts designed to boost one’s own efficiency to good effect. They are key in allowing companies to differentiate themselves commercially and technologically and thus achieve a competitive advantage in the global market. Otto Bihler Maschinenfabrik realizes these increases in value added across the board within the framework of a comprehensive lifecycle management system, supporting their customers with a wide variety of services and solutions, ranging from the initial idea through component production and right up to follow-up support activities.
In Germany, mechanical and plant engineering has a turnover that is among the highest in the manufacturing sector, contributing 3.3 percent to total gross value added. In recent years the focus has been on deploying strategies and methods to raise efficiency and create greater value along the entire production chain. And it pays. Because, after all, vast potential for growth and improvement lies dormant in the industry. A recent study by the Federal Association for Information Technology, Telecommunications and New Media (BITKOM) and the Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Engineering (IAO) shows that in the mechanical and plant engineering sector alone, productivity could be raised by as much as 30 percent through to 2025.
The possibilities for improving efficiency and streamlining processes are many and varied. Existing processes, for instance, can be altered in such a way that goods can be manufactured at lower cost using existing resources. Likewise effective is the use of new manufacturing technologies that make production more flexible while driving process and product quality at the same time. Changes like higher component densities, too, are helping to tap into substantial savings and optimization potential.
At Otto Bihler Maschinenfabrik, huge importance is placed on optimization initiatives designed to boost efficiency, not least because these help customers to maintain their competitive edge in the global marketplace. But for Bihler, optimizing processes and creating greater value is not just about streamlining individual production stages on Bihler machines or speeding up cycle times. On the contrary, Otto Bihler Maschinenfabrik takes an all-encompassing approach that addresses every step in the manufacturing process, from the raw material to the final product.
Turning ideas into production
The Bihler Leantool system exemplifies the company’s end-to-end approach. Both universal and modular, the system optimizes the path by which new tools are created and makes the entire process simpler, faster and cheaper. At the same time, the Leantool system optimizes upfront processes that help customers to acquire new business. With the Bihler Planning app they have advanced access to essential information on the technical feasibility of stamped and bended parts made from strip material or wires. Likewise available is information on the type of machine needed, projected cycle rates, estimates of likely setup times, and information on the possible output volumes that can be produced. All this enables users to run exact cost calculations prior to production and to respond more quickly to customers – two factors that increase their chances of winning orders.
Tool costs cut in half
When an order comes in, manufacturers can design and optimize a production task in terms of tools from beginning to end using the Bihler Leantool system Here, too, the Bihler Planning app is exceptionally useful. Users can download designs quickly and efficiently that can be modified easily to create and develop the desired components. The subsequent toolmaking process is likewise optimized as it utilizes standard parts that only require minor modification. Thanks to the ease and simplicity of tool assembly and system setup, component production can begin exceptionally quickly, keeping the time to market short. In addition, conventional tools can be made in the same fashion but for as little as half the cost.
Comprehensive lifecycle management
“The Leantool system exemplifies the end-to-end services and solutions that we offer our customers to help them leverage untapped optimization potential throughout the process chain,” says Mathias Bihler. “We are not just with them from initial acquisition all the way through to production, we also offer continuing assistance through our customer support.” This lifecycle management even extends to subsequent optimization of manufacturing processes that might be necessitated by mounting cost pressures. Here, Bihler provides a range of additional consulting and support services aimed at promoting real performance gains over the longer term. For instance, Bihler employees can assess which working steps could be automated and run together on the same machine so as to tighten up the value chain. This high level of consulting and support expertise is as unique as it is characteristic of the company. In tandem with other solutions designed to optimize processes, it offers customers of Otto Bihler Maschinenfabrik a substantial long-term competitive advantage.
Profiting from knowledge
Customer focus, authenticity and openness – always at the forefront of Bihler’s customer and partner relationships – play an important role in the successful optimization of processes, too. This is particularly true when it comes to sharing knowledge and expertise. “With the Bihler Planning app, for instance, we give our customers access to a comprehensive pool of knowledge that they can then combine with their own expertise to implement projects successfully,” explains Mathias Bihler. This takes the sharing of mutually complementary knowledge to a new level and contributes substantially to both sides’ success.
NC technology opens up immense practical potential for optimization. It makes production so hugely efficient and flexible that it delivers immeasurable performance gains compared to mechanical systems. Besides dependable, reliable production at the highest quality level, it also allows much shorter setup times, maximum reproducibility when setting up tools (particularly where smaller batches and frequent changes are involved), and fully usable, cost-effective solutions based on the Leantool system. Mathias Bihler is convinced: “Every customer using this combination is in an excellent competitive position for the future.” The training programs Bihler offers are therefore designed to ensure that attendees acquire all the knowledge they need to use servo-controlled production systems effectively and so offer customers an immediate return on their investment.
Expanding production horizons
This comprehensive, end-to-end approach to optimization by Otto Bihler Maschinenfabrik focuses on new projects and tasks as well, not just on existing manufacturing solutions. Here, too, the company can bring its exceptional consulting and service capabilities to bear. “We feel duty bound to deliver a level of performance that helps our customers succeed,” says Mathias Bihler. This the company achieves in practice by providing mature manufacturing solutions designed to satisfy customer requirements and do more than merely accomplish new tasks with ease. At the same time, though, customers using Bihler systems often think outside the box and develop specific process expertise that, with time, allows them to come up with new potential applications. Thus, new projects executed on new Bihler systems not only broaden users’ horizons, they also encourage innovative ideas for future projects. Here, as always, Bihler is on hand to help with its array of support services and pool of knowledge built on 60 years’ experience in stamping and forming technology.
Continuing digital transformation
Bihler is steadily expanding its portfolio by adding new digital solutions and services as well. This began with the introduction of smart control technology in the form of the VC 1 control system, efficient process monitoring tools, and network-based remote maintenance. There are new tools in the pipeline that will provide access to comprehensive system-specific information online. Other upcoming features include live status information on customers’ own systems, analysis and suggestions for improvements. Systems will also be easier to integrate into digital environments thanks to the addition of new interfaces and sophisticated communication capabilities. All new and existing services and features offered by Otto Bihler Maschinenfabrik with the aim of optimizing processes have the capacity to drive success. Says Mathias Bihler in conclusion: “Our tailored services help customers to set themselves apart from rivals, both technically and economically, and so command a competitive advantage in the global area.”