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CHIRON Werke News

Focusing on customer

Faster, more accurate, more robust: The demands placed on machine tools are continually increasing. How does the CHIRON Group meet this challenge?

Dr. Eppler: The demands not only grow continually, they are also becoming more and more diversified. A few years ago, a tool machine manufacturer still had to build good, fast and robust machines, his technology had to be up-to-date and his machines had to be developed in line with the market. Meanwhile, innovations are required within different areas from different perspectives – also in cooperation with our customers and suppliers. As a result, we no longer consider innovations only for new machines, but also for services and processes. We feel challenged by that. Within the CHIRON Group we created structures, filled functions and installed processes which we use to pick up and evaluate trends and innovation topics from all of the relevant areas and push for further developments.

Dr. Spachtholz: The challenges are completely different today. The possible variants of the basic machine concepts are well known. Today, further developments are taking place in the component details, in the kinematics and in the control intelligence. But new ideas are also needed when integrating the tool machine into the production process in order to meet the customer demands in terms of reducing cycle times, run times, cost per piece or operating concepts. Our customers demand maximum productivity.

Where do the ideas for further developments come from?

Dr. Spachtholz: One should not always compare innovation with a technological quantum leap. At our house, innovation is frequently the continuous development, in other words a clear process. The ideas are coming from different sources: internally from e.g. our service, engineering or sales. Externally from customers, partner organizations, suppliers or research institutes. For example, we are closely networked with the Laboratory for Machine Tools and Production Engineering (WZL) of RWTH Aachen University. They do basic research which we as medium-sized machine manufacturer could not afford.

Dr. Eppler: This close network with our business partners is extremely important to us since we are not able to cover all areas of expertise. However, we must be able to identify, understand, evaluate and integrate current trends and requirements into our solutions. Because, at the end of the day, the CHIRON Group is selling complete solutions, with complex machines that stand for themselves. It is absolutely crucial for the development that all technical advances on and in our machines are strictly aligned to the customers’ benefit.

Digitization, Big Data, Industry 4.0: Where and how does the CHIRON Group position itself as a medium-sized machining center manufacturer on these topics compared to specialized IT-companies?

Dr. Eppler: We position ourselves exactly where we belong: at the machine. Instead of Big Data we aim at Relevant Data, in other words, what you can read from the data and for what they are used. We do not follow cloud solution concepts. All of the data analyses are designed in such a way that they work directly at the machine or in secure cloud solutions going forward. We start with the individual machine, compress the accumulated data with mechanical competence, analyze them, develop parameters, generate and evaluate statements. We can then provide this information in the local customer network to the master foreman, the process planner, the controller or to the management. This way, we create added value for our customers throughout the life cycle of the machine and with the vertical networking.

Dr. Spachtholz: Our great advantage in comparison with IT-companies is that we have comprehensive domain knowledge. The IT-companies that wish to capture this market do not have that. This technical expertise in mechanical engineering often saves the big-data round-ups. The pure search for patterns and data correlations in large quantities of data is a feasible approach when interactions are unclear. However, we are very familiar with these causalities with our machining centers and we are able to gain insights much more streamlined, faster and more effectively. That is pure customer benefit.

Dr. Eppler: With SmartLine we offer software and hardware solutions that control and optimize production processes, safeguard the availability of equipment, enable predictive maintenance, and offer an abundance of analysis possibilities. Our current focus is on machine simulation and production optimization, and all that goes with it. But we are also thinking about maintenance and service concepts where, for example, the machine itself is ordering its spare parts.

From idea to innovation: How do you manage this process within the CHIRON Group?

Dr. Spachtholz: As already mentioned, strategic and technological impulses are coming from different sources. The task of the Development System at the CHIRON Group is to structure and channel them. As a result, we steer a lean and group-wide management system for the entire life cycle of innovations – in other words, from advanced development and product planning to product development all the way to product maintenance. In principle, this system applies to all products and solutions, regardless whether it concerns machine or software development. Both depend on each other and therefore should not be considered in isolation in the innovation process.

Dr. Eppler: Within the CHIRON Group there is the principle of organized creativity. In doing so, we are questioning together with employees from the relevant technical departments whether the machine concepts are still correct and what we can improve. This also creates new concepts for our production and services. Creativity and flexibility are important, however, at a certain point in time they must be rolled into a formalized structure. The process of the structured innovation basically applies to any form of expression, regardless whether it is from the market or from the company, radical or step by step.

Many ideas are therefore coming directly from the company. How is it possible for the CHIRON Group to maintain its staff’s qualifications at such a high level?

Dr. Eppler: Our aim is to always be up-to-date with the state of the art of technology. That is the heart of a mechanical engineering firm. And we have also created the structures for that within the CHIRON Group. For that reason, the technical advances on and in our machines are ongoing. Our employees in the application department, for example, are always working on the newest machines with the most recent control. That is qualification, day after day, always at the upper limit. In addition, we also offer technical and methodical qualification for our staff in-house.

Dr. Spachtholz: Of course, we also have qualification plans in order to keep up with technological leaps. Two years ago, for example, we sought external input from specialists to include robot cells in our portfolio. This elevates our employees to a very high level so that the one testing the customer’s work pieces today can later also work in sales as project developer or turnkey-specialist. The expression of a learning organization becomes really tangible.

Responsible for the content of this press release: CHIRON Werke GmbH & Co. KG

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CHIRON Werke GmbH & Co. KG
Kreuzstr. 75
78532 Tuttlingen
Germany
(+49 7461) 9 40-0
(+49 7461) 9 40-53 00 0

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