Failure is not an option
Meurer specialises in end-of-line packaging machinery for foods such as dairy products, tea, coffee and bottles of wine. Since 2015 the company is part of US-headquartered ITW, a global manufacturing specialist with 85 divisions and a $12 billion turnover. Meurer’s strategic marketing director Matthias Look explains: “Our whole philosophy is to deliver a solution that is fully integrated and tailored to the customer’s needs.
“For our customers, the critical thing is the availability of the machine. Supermarkets have very specific requirements on when they want products to be supplied. If the product isn’t supplied on time there will be empty shelves in the store and the supplier will be fined.
"Failure is not an option, customers have to rely on our delivery performance. And this leads back to our manufacturing operations.”
“We make around 50 to 60 thousand distinct parts a year with just 8,000 repeating parts. So it is important to get the right mix on the manufacturing plan to minimise setup times.” Hermann Brand, head of operations, continues: “The starting point for us is the productivity and flexibility of the machines. We need to be able to integrate fast track jobs in the production flow.”
Meurer already had two Easy-Form press brakes retrofitted with the latest controls. The Easy-Form® Laser adaptive bending system plays a key part in Meurer’s manufacturing strategy, says Hartwig Busch, head of component production:
“You get a good part right from the first part and that is vital to achieve the availability and quality of components we need.”
In parallel with this, a new Phoenix fiber laser was installed. “We constantly look at the flow of work through the department. We saw that we could do more, but our old 4 kW CO2 laser was a bottleneck. On the one hand it was no longer energy-efficient, and on the other hand our production possibilities were constricted by the laser power.” Brand adds: “The advantages of the fiber laser are clear. On the basis of our trials I would say it is around three and a half times faster, with a very good cut.”
Process integration through the manufacturing chain
Brand continues: “We have a big engineering department and although we standardise our machines, there are always new parts.” The complete LVD software process integration was introduced. “In the past we had a 2D system. Contours were taken from individual drawings and prepared for the laser and nested on the sheet. Now 3D parts are seamlessly transferred from engineering onto a server. The LVD software imports the data, automatically generates the cutting and bending programs and sends them to the machines.”
The software includes the latest CADMAN-B bending software, CADMAN-L laser cutting software, CADMAN-SDI smart drawing importer and CADMAN-JOB. CADMAN-JOB manages the interactions between the engineering department, the ERP system, CAM and the workshop in order to optimise manufacturing resources and production time.
“CADMAN-JOB gives us real-time visibility on the status of individual components, telling us which part is on which machine, what has been completed, what is ready for dispatch. So we get 100% oversight of the whole operation and a continuous data flow from A to Z.”
Touch-i4 will allow the team leader to organise and monitor parts on the shop floor – tracking which parts on which sheet go with which assembly, even when they have moved on to secondary operations such as deburring and thread cutting.
This is the latest stage in a long-term relationship with LVD. The first LVD machines were supplied to Meurer in 2011. Until then the company had been outsourcing its sheet metal work. LVD trained about 20 people from engineering and production on how to design,
“In 10 years' time, the production environment at Meurer has evolved tremendously. But it hasn’t happened overnight, we have always been moving forward step by step.”
The next step came in 2016 when Busch was put in charge of part production. “We carefully audited the whole manufacturing process so that we could re-organise it and optimise it. “Moving from 2D to 3D, we had to be able to design the sheet metal parts so that we could make them. Our engineers worked with LVD to continually refine them so we could get the right sheet metal parts and optimise them on the sheet and produce them.