Tightly networked and uniform data flows are key to efficient working processes. This applies especially to large enterprises that produce using many machines at different locations — like ThyssenKrupp Plastics. As a leading distributor of semifinished plastic material, it supplies and processes products for building construction, visual communication, piping systems and industrial plastics. In Germany alone, ThyssenKrupp Plastics employs more than 800 people at 20 locations. They use a total of roughly 30 HOLZMA saws for cutting plastics to size.
To further increase the efficiency and quality of its own first-stage processing services, the company engaged specialists from HOLZMA to harmonize the Cut Rite optimization software for all saws by updating it to the latest version, to train its employees and to undertake the necessary hardware updates. A tall order, on a scale that even HOLZMA does not see every day.
More than almost any other brand, the name ThyssenKrupp is associated in Germany and around the world with high-quality steel products. However, the product portfolio of this long-established group of companies extends far beyond that market sector. The company can also look back at more than 50 years in the semifinished plastic products market. To concentrate its expertise in the plastics business and increase its visibility as a special provider, the Group combined its activities in the plastics field into an independent company, ThyssenKrupp Plastics GmbH, in October 2009.
In only a few years, ThyssenKrupp Plastics GmbH has become a heavyweight in the plastics industry, with numerous locations and an equally wide spectrum of services and products. Many of the locations have something in common in terms of technology: They have placed their trust in HOLZMA for cutting plastics, often for many years. At the 15 sites in Germany alone, roughly 30 HOLZMA saws are in service. They range from small models to large saws such as the HPP 510.
"For cutting optimization, many of our sites have been working with the proven HOLZMA Cut Rite software," reports Jens Dahm, ThyssenKrupp Plastics Product Manager, "but with different and often older versions, so we were not able to fully exploit the potential of this optimization software." Optimization was decentralized and offline in the individual plants.
The Goal: More Efficiency, Less Administrative Effort
"To benefit from previously unexploited optimization potential and better coordinate our production work processes in all of our plants, we turned to HOLZMA, our long-term partner for saws and software," says Dahm. The goal was quickly drawn up: The efficiency in cutting optimization should be markedly increased and the administrative effort for managing software and future updates should be lowered.
"Therefore, our first step was to analyze the current optimization processes at the 20 German ThyssenKrupp Plastics sites and then to develop an individually suitable concept on this basis," explains Arne Mömesheim, the manager of HOLZMA Cut Rite. The solution was that optimization should continue to be decentralized at the individual sites — but should be online. The Cut Rite software is now only installed on a single central computer. The employees in the plants have access via a single user license, create the cutting plans and send them online directly to the relevant saw. That saves money and time, and avoids errors. Software updates or new parameter settings now need only be made once at the central computer and are then available across the corporation at all individual workplaces.
"The crucial advantage to us is that we operate in a much more networked manner in this way, and can exchange orders among ourselves," emphasizes Alex Hammer, logistics manager for the southern division of ThyssenKrupp Plastics. "If one plant happens not to have the necessary material on hand at a given point, it can forward the order including the cutting plans directly to another site. This means that the customer always receives the ordered material on time – and we can flexibly compensate for performance spikes," Hammer explains.
Hardware Updates Included
Depending on the year of manufacture and the configuration of the existing HOLZMA saws, a certain number of hardware updates were necessary in order to implement this concept. "We brought in the specialists from our HOLZMA service network to work quickly, and we precisely tailored our work to the customer," Mömesheim stresses. The network capability of the machine computers was only one aspect in this regard. It already exists in all newer HOLZMA saws and only needed to be activated. "But as a quality supplier with the highest standards, ThyssenKrupp Plastics wanted to seize the opportunity to bring its machine pool for cutting to size to the current state of the art," says Christof Stadel, HOLZMA Service Manager. "We therefore checked all the computers in the 30 or so saws, and installed updates or replaced older systems as a preventive measure, so as to avoid unnecessary downtime in the future." In addition, there were other modifications specifically for plastics processing — for example, HOLZMA Service retrofitted or modernized spraying units for some saws, installed longer or folding air cushion tables and increased the fan power in some cases. Some machines were also equipped with label printers for marking parts and with cutting gap closers.
This list of actions only represents a selection of the successful updates and modifications. "We were able to solve the problems quickly and almost without interrupting operations for the customer," Stadel points out. "We also profited from our tightly knit group of dealers with skilled service technicians on site and from the HOLZMA remote maintenance capabilities." HOLZMA was able to access newer saws directly from its company headquarters and conduct tests, updates or activations online, saving time and costs.
User Knowledge Completely Up to Date
The HOLZMA training team simultaneously developed a customized training concept so that the employees in cutting optimization at ThyssenKrupp Plastics could be completely familiar with the functions and capabilities of the newest version of Cut Rite from the very beginning. "We trained the employees intensively in several group sessions and prepared them for the new features in our training center in the Black Forest," reports Tino Lützner, manager of HOLZMA Training. This ensures that all users are at a uniformly high level of knowledge and are able to exploit the new possibilities to the fullest extent. The pilot installation of the new Cut Rite Software took place in May 2012 on the central computer of ThyssenKrupp Plastics. The rollout is predicted to be completed by the middle of the year. Then the corporation will have one of the most modern optimization networks in the world, with 100 single user licenses for Cut Rite.