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MPDV Mikrolab News

On the way to the paperless factory

Sulzer Applicator Systems produces four billion plastic parts per year by injection molding. In order for these products to function absolutely safely and reliably, all parts must be manufactured with attention to detail. High expectation for production. Critical parameters such as the composition of raw materials, homogeneity of the material mixtures, temperatures, pressure in the injection mold along with the quality of the mold and the cooling process must be precisely coordinated. Each fault means, stop the machine, sort out the faulty parts and reset the system. That costs a lot of time and money.

"By digitalizing our production, we can now reduce such downtimes to a minimum or even avoid them altogether. This is because process steps such as planning, procurement, the setup of machines, operation, maintenance and quality control can be perfectly coordinated," says Ronny Graf, Injection-Molding Department Manager at the Haag production site in Switzerland.

As early as 2013, Graf and his team of six introduced the Manufacturing Execution System (MES) HYDRA from MPDV at Sulzer. Even then, it was clear to everyone involved that they needed a solution that would make the manufacturing process transparent and not only collect data, but also analyze and control it. "We therefore discussed many options in advance and looked at various providers. But with MPDV, the overall package was just perfect," says Graf. It was particularly important to the team that the solution could be connected to the SAP system via standardized interfaces and that it offered sophisticated planning functions. Another requirement was that the MES was easy to use and that the company winning the contract should have subsidiaries in Asia. "That was particularly important to us in view of a later deployment in China," says Graf. MPDV fulfilled all these criteria and so the decision for HYDRA was made.

More transparency, improved delivery times

Especially the excellent communication between the ERP system and HYDRA has a number of benefits. After all, the planning department can transmit production orders directly to production and react quickly to changes. The MES in turn reports back the number of parts actually produced and the status of the machine. If the out-put of a machine is lower than planned, orders are distributed quickly to other machines and delivery deadlines are met as planned. Previously, employees had to record the quantities produced per machine in Excel lists. This cost a lot of time and if a machine failed, there was a lack of flexibility. "We have improved our on-time delivery tremendously.  We can now deliver around 98 percent of the orders as planned and our customers are satisfied," says Graf.   

Another advantage of HYDRA is the overall increased productivity of the machines. It can be measured using Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE), which can be calculated from the factors availability, performance and quality. A traffic light system − green means okay, yellow warns and red means take action − indicates the status of each machine to the employee. "This is how we can operate all 160 injection molding machines at optimum load. This has resulted in a total productivity gain of twelve percent in the first three years. We can therefore say that customers, employees and the company itself all benefit from the MES," says Graf with a smile.

The detailed user report can be found here.

MPDV

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Responsible for the content of this press release: MPDV Mikrolab GmbH

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