Optimized pallet flow and performance ­increase of more than 15 %

To defend its leading position as a high-quality company in the fiercely competitive precast market, Ziegelwerk Arnach GmbH & Co. KG  decided to optimize and modernize its existing production.

What began with an initial talk between the Managing Director Karl-Josef Fassnacht of ZW Arnach and Hermann Weckenmann of Weckenmann Anlagentechnik GmbH & Co. KG in April 2013 at the trade fair Bauma in Munich can today be judged a complete success. Soon after this initial contact, Weckenmann visited the plant of ZW Arnach in the German city of Bad Wurzach and inspected the existing circulation system. Although the initial objective had been only to take an inventory of the actual condition of the system, intensive talks with the team from ZW Arnach started immediately.

Weckenmann analyzed and summarized the status quo of the plant and the results of the discussions. Based on a study, Weckenmann then demonstrated to his customer the actual condition of the plant as well as the possible improvement and extension potentials. All of the participants were pleased to see what little expenditure and cost would be required to implement substantial improvements through ergonomic and performance-enhancing measures.

Optimization within the shortest possible time

Weckenmann worked the plant optimization and modernization concept, including the cost studies, into his proposal within a very short time. ZW Arnach placed its order only three months following initial contact. The plant modernization concept was implemented from mid-December 2013 to January 2014. The first pallet was cast soon after; precast production commenced at full capacity at the beginning of February 2014 as scheduled.

The logic behind the decision made by the Managing Director Fassnacht to invest in the circulation system for production of floor plates for floor systems and large-area special products bought in 1989, can best be summarized as follows: “Nothing comes from nothing.”

The modernization measures in detail

The primary objective formulated had called for a performance increase of at least 15 % to be achieved with the same pallet cycle. The solution consisted of more effective utilization of pallet loading by two additional stacking stations and an additional removal car, enabling in this way mixed pallet assignment. New lifting beam equipment with turning gear for handling narrow and short parts extends over two pallet positions. Pallet flow was optimized by two additional intermediate positions and new pallet positions in the demolding area. In this way, a performance increase of considerably more than the originally planned 15 % was achieved.

The second objective was to enable more ergonomic and effective work in the plant. Toward this objective, the solution consisted of a new shuttering system with integrated magnets and a new formwork transport system with cleaner and oiler for automated transport of the side forms from the demolding station directly to the shuttering station. A new workstation system with walkway on pallet level and rack system for storing the embedded parts was installed directly adjacent to the shuttering position alongside the pallet. This system includes a movable tool car with glue gun for positioning the embedded parts, and a manual oiler above the shuttering station. By optimizing the workflows on the demolding and shuttering stations, manual set-up and removal of the formwork with cleaning and oiling was able to be shifted to the machine. Another benefit is the much shorter distances between the storage facilities for the magnets, formwork and embedded parts that were previously stored at the front-end of the pallet.

In the third step, the machines, control units and higher-ranking computer technology were replaced to minimize downtimes and malfunctions. In addition, the safety equipment was upgraded to the state of the art.

Investment was the right step

Modernization, as predicted in the Weckenmann study, resulted in the intended performance enhancement in the plant, with the logical side effect of a bottleneck in the existing reinforcement plant. At the beginning of 2015, consistent with the overall concept, reinforcement preparation will be replaced by the latest in technology and by a high degree of automation as well.

“The expectations placed on the measures were fully fulfilled, and the investment was the entirely right step in this direction,” said Managing Director Fassnacht with considerable satisfaction. “Concept development, project processing and implementation by Weckenmann progressed smoothly without exception and met time schedules smoothly and satisfactorily without exception according to the established time table. In particular, the specifications for the performance rise, critical for us, were even exceeded.”

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