In dialogue with Präzisa
Präzisa Kunstkautschukwaren Betriebsgesellschaft mbH is a globally supplying producer of elastomer products. The diversified product range is found primarily in industries such as medicine, security technology, aviation and baby care.
MR FERLEMANN, PLEASE TELL US WHY YOU OCCUPY YOURSELF WITH THE TOPIC OF AUTOMATION AT PRÄZISA.
Mike Ferlemann: Our location is very tourism-driven and the search for qualified staff is often arduous. The appeal of larger cities such as Hamburg or Lübeck takes its toll. Consequently, we had to come up with a plan and started compensating for the lack of candidates with automation at an early stage.
However, in terms of the current system, the situation is a
different one. We received a request for an increase in the number of units from the customer. This involved the production of protective masks. We’d previously produced these on a partially automated system. And since DESMA was able to directly provide us with professional support, it made sense to implement this plan with DESMA, too.
PLEASE DESCRIBE THE COURSE OF THE PROJECT FOR ME.
As I already mentioned, the product in question was a protective mask. You can imagine how critical it was to remove the existing tool from the running production and send it to Fridingen so that it could be adapted to the new machine. Of course, ultimately, we had to keep our delivery promises. DESMA submitted a cohesive overall concept and explained its absolute reliability in minute detail. As a result, our trust increased and we were convinced that the tool would be ready in time to start further production.
However, we were still sceptical when it came to calculating the numbers of units to be produced. On the partially automated system, a worker had manually demoulded the masks, and had been able to always remove two at a time. The fully automated demoulding system only permitted individual removal of each mask and a lower output was calculated – but the opposite is the case.
CAN YOU EXPLAIN THAT TO ME IN MORE DETAIL?
Well, you can’t allow yourself to forget that our products are highly sensitive parts. Full automation therefore means continuity of production. Our top priority was, of course, to increase yield – but right next to this was also achieving consistent levels of quality. If you have three-shift operation, at the end of the day you wind up with three different levels of quality. This is due to different cycle times, speeds, preferences of the people onsite and many other variables. Automation brings production reliability. The main objective with fully automated production is that one article is identical to the other. Just ogling the increase in numbers of units is not enough.
That rises by 15 – 20 %. But as a result of less scrap and continuous quality, the number of good parts increases. As a result of the combination of number of units and quality, there’s simply greater output at the end of the day. There is one more synergy effect I’d like to mention. Our industry works with a material that can’t be recycled at all or only in part, that’s just the way it is. The resource has been removed from nature. Higher quality therefore also means consuming less of these valuable resources. The ZeroWaste cold runner technology is a huge help to us in this regard.
[Red.: possibly reference to the use of ZeroWaste?]
THAT SOUNDS REASONABLE. WERE THERE ANY CRITICAL MOMENTS IN THE CURRENT PROJECT AS WELL?
Of course, in projects like this, there are also difficult situations which don’t go according to plan. But this isn’t inherently something bad. I see this as a challenge you have to rise to together. There aren’t many projects that run without a hitch right from the start.
Mistakes mean an opportunity for further development and thus progress. And progress normally leads to success. You have to benchmark according to the tasks, ideally this occurs in the team.
WHAT ELSE WAS DECISIVE FOR THE COLLABORATION WITH DESMA?
As I already mentioned, we weren’t exactly able to boast a flood of skilled experts here. That’s why we needed a complete solution from a single source because we haven’t got the expert capacities for robotics here. The planned handling process and the robot programming this entailed was especially complicated in our view. There was this one special motion the robot arm was supposed to execute which caused us quite a lot of hard work. However, the DESMA employee in charge indicated to us early on that the programme structures were designed in such a way that our request could be implemented without any trouble. We would have required two members of staff for this problem alone. Of course, it was also important to us that the system run without malfunctions and, if a malfunction should occur, that we could get
it back up and running on our own. So we need someone who is always at the ready and who can provide us with support without delay. And DESMA can deliver on this, I’m speaking now from my own experience. My co-worker was on holiday and the system was down. So I rang up our contact partner at DESMA and explained the situation to him. Just a short while later I received a call from one of the service technicians in Fridingen. He literally took me by the hand and guided my through the robotics programme. With just one call, two or three messenger pictures, which we sent back and forth, and a few useful tips given by the service technician, the system was back in production in less than 30 minutes with a double thumbs-up from me.
ARE THERE ANY FURTHER PLANS FOR AUTOMATION AND WHAT FACTORS ARE DECISIVE?
The response is, of course, “Yes, we’re continuing with this.” We’ve already sent the next request for quotation for full automation. In this we were the initiator of the idea, we presented our specifications orally and received suggestions from DESMA
how this could best be implemented. We don’t relinquish responsibility, instead DESMA proactively supports us in all matters. This has been our experience in the collaboration to date.
WHAT IS YOUR PERSONAL CONCLUSION?
We always believed in the concept and were convinced that it works. There was no simulation beforehand. It was only as a result of our joint experience, trust and the absolute will to implement something like this that we were able to complete the project within an extremely short time frame and keep our delivery promises. I remember very well the first time I heard that
the tool in Fridingen was working. I had them send me a video right away. That was a genuine “wow moment” – that’s what makes us happy to get out of bed every day. Especially in times such as these, here at Präzisa we are very much aware of our responsibility, and help wherever we can with our staff and products. Automation supports us in this crucial commitment.