Major investments in 4 key areas for higher quality and improved lead times
As the new year kicks off, we’re hitting the ground running at IGS GeboJagema. We laid the groundwork last year with the largest investment our company has ever made, in robotized machinery, software, new people, training, and even an entirely new department. We know that quality and lead times are both of great importance to our customers. So our goal with these investments is to improve quality, to make lead times more reliable and to shorten them where possible. To serve our clients even better in 2021, we invested in four key areas.
1. Model Based Definition
The manufacturing industry has worked with 2D drawings for decades. The problem with drawings is that they always involve a degree of interpretation. Miscommunication is unavoidable, which leads to imprecision and errors. Using 3D CAD models helps reduce such errors, but is still an imperfect solution. IGS is moving towards an Industry 4.0 production environment, which allows us to automate more and more parts of the production process. As part of that move, we have adopted 3D model based definition. In short, these are ‘intelligent’ 3D models, which eliminate the possibility of human error entirely. As a result, quality is increased and lead times become more reliable.
The switch from 3D CAD models to 3D model based definition is not as simple though as starting to use some new software. It is an entirely new way of working. While we did ensure the software was properly set up for this new approach, we also trained our people to work with model based definition, from the design department to the logistic technology engineering department and the tool shop. Moreover, our suppliers all needed to start delivering their products in accordance with this new way of working.
To learn more about model based definition, be sure to read this whitepaper written by our Chief Innovation Officer Rob Doorakkers: ‘Model Based Definition: Nice-to-Have or Must-Have for an Automated, Faultless Industry 4.0 Production Environment?’
2. New Planning System
Late last year, we made the switch to Microsoft’s Dynamics 365 Business Central. This move allows us to start using a new planning system called Siemens OpCenter, which offers several critical advantages. First, this new system makes it possible to plan all resources in one place. Instead of planning production separately, it will be tightly integrated with our engineering and validation resources. This will increase the accuracy of our lead time estimates, from the very first engineering design to the factory acceptance test.
Second, the new system allows for smarter and leaner planning. Whereas other systems track large batches of parts and components, our new system is much more granular. This makes it easier to spot inefficiencies and optimisation opportunities. Our planning professionals are of course excited to be working with this new software.
3. New Machines in our Tool Shop
We have invested heavily in new machinery for our tool shop and customer service centre. We acquired ten new machines for our spark erosion, wire erosion and high-speed milling departments, expanding our capacity by over 20%. Late last year, we also installed a state-of-the-art ENGEL injection moulding machine, bringing the total to eight IMMs.
Our fully robotized machine park for finishing mould parts comprises a presetting, spark erosion, wire erosion and high speed milling department. It is completely managed and monitored by Erowa robots and Erowa JMS Mould Line software. This ensures high quality and huge capacity for our customers’ projects.
- Presetting department.
- Three robotized EROWA CMM Qi measuring machines.
- Two robotized GFMS Spark Erosion machines.
- Two robotized GFMS Wire Erosion machines.
- Four robotized Makino 5-axis steel High Speed Milling machines, working in two twin cells.
- Two robotized Makino 5-axis High Speed Milling machines for graphite electrodes.
- One MicroCut machine for precision valve gate bore manufacturing.
- One 280-ton ENGEL injection moulding machine, with robot.
But arguably the most significant, innovative step we have made is the opening of an entirely new presetting department. We acquired three additional EROWA CMM Qi portal measuring machines to automatically measure not only the electrodes and cutting tools, but also all mould parts and fixtures before they are sent to the high-speed milling, spark erosion and wire erosion departments. This new department is an integral part of our Industry 4.0 strategy. By significantly reducing the risk of error early in the production process, we are making another step in ensuring the highest possible quality and making lead times more reliable. Moreover, it offers opportunities for greater efficiency and performance.
4. New Team Members
We welcomed several production and quality control operators last year, growing our team by over 10%. This expansion was not strictly necessary to deal with current production volumes, but protects us against the possible impact of unexpected absences and ensures we are ready for production spikes.
With our expanded team, we have plenty of capacity to handle the rapid growth of our order book. Moreover, we are making sure our team will be ready to handle future growth, by training young new colleagues to become future professionals.
Performing Better than Ever
As we enter into 2021, all the new machines, software and other systems are in place. Over the next couple of months, we will be finishing the implementation into our processes and fine-tuning our entire production cycle. We expect to improve performance significantly with these new options at our disposal. Needless to say, our team is excited to explore just how far we can go… All with one clear goal: to help our customers better than ever.
Curious about the possiblities?
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I’d love to hear more about your plans to see how IGS can assist. Even if your project is in the earliest stages, we are more than happy to share our expertise, so don’t hesitate to reach out.