A team for volume production
“We synchronize our processes with those of our customers,” is what Jürgen Gerst says about Glüpker Blechtechnologie. Complex parts called for at regular intervals are the company’s specialty and are delivered at premium quality — and right to the assembly line, if desired.
A clear-cut strategy has been adopted by Glüpker Blechtechnologie. This job shop prefers to manufacture products where repeat orders are likely, where those products will probably be kept in production for a long time, and where Glüpker can realize a high real net output ratio. “To be able to really capitalize on the company’s strengths, we need the right piece counts in an order. Anyone wishing to purchase anything from individual sheet metal components to complete, ready-to-install systems is going to get the service they need here,” says Jürgen Gerst, a member of management.
The town of Neuenhaus, near the border to the Netherlands, has been the home of Glüpker Blechtechnologie since 1981. The company is a part of the Neuenhauser Group of Companies. With a payroll of 330, Glüpker Blechtechnologie delivers its products primarily to major customers and OEMs in trailer and agricultural machinery, textiles, construction and paving machines, forklift trucks, and general mechanical engineering.
The firm processes 45,000 tons of material each year. Its “classic” order sizes are lots of from 100 to 20,000 pieces per year, called for two to three times a week. These repeat orders are an important criterion for this job shop. Jürgen Gerst explains: “Our operation is focused on reproducible components of medium to great complexity. Once we have set up our processes to build the perfect product for the customer, we can call up the sequence again whenever required.” Close cooperation with the customer is important to him. Every customer has his own account manager in the sales team. A well-trained and thoroughly professional team ensures that the parts always arrive punctually at the customer’s site. This is all in line with the company’s guideline: “Say what you intend to do and then do what you said.”
Component assemblies right to the line
This expert concentrates on the more complex components in sheet metal. “We want the largest possible number of parts to pass through all of our company’s fabrication departments,” notes Jürgen Gerst. In concrete terms, the work starts with cutting to size using the laser cutting machine or punching machine, continuing on to bending and drawing, and finishing in the welding shop. The result is that complete products — surfaces finished and fully assembled — can be created along the Group’s manufacturing chain. Jürgen Gerst: “Using the capacities within the Neuenhauser Group, we can ensure that our deliveries are right, each and every time.”
The logistics department at Glüpker Blechtechnologie delivers not only directly to the assembly line, but also directly to the client’s manufacturing process. In addition to kanban methods, this job shop also offers just-in-time and just-in-sequence shipments. This means that the products are delivered in the order that corresponds to the processing sequence at the customers’ production line. Individual logistics concepts like these are both a challenge and an opportunity for the company. “Logistics are a major selling point for us, since just about anybody can cut with the laser, bend parts and weld,” says Jürgen Gerst. “Mastering the complexity of internal and external logistics is the real challenge.” Given the 300,000 orders that pass across the factory floor each year at Glüpker Blechtechnologie, this is no easy task.
Closely dovetailed with the client
One tried-and-true principle — maintaining close links between customers and the suppliers for the individual work processes — ensures that every part arrives exactly on time. “We verify the starting and delivery times for the individual manufacturing sections,” Jürgen Gerst explains. Working in real-time, the company compares an order’s current production status with the scheduled delivery date. “If the internal processes are in good order, then we have no problems with meeting customer deadlines,” says the sales manager. In addition, the company works with a forward-looking capac-ity planning system. To make this work, the system is fed with forecasts from its major customers and, based on this data, the company calculates the capacity required. “In this way we can see future bottlenecks in advance and, if necessary, pre-produce a part of the batch.” Materials scheduling can also be better controlled and warehouse inventories can be optimized.
“Our responses have to be ever faster and more flexible,” says Jürgen Gerst. “We might be notified of changes in the product just before production begins. We have to take that into account.” Speed is everything and the through-put times are continuously being tweaked. Here he concentrates on setup and part production times. Improved processes and new technologies result in continuous op-timization of the company as a whole. By procuring a new TruLaser 5030 fiber, Glüpker Blechtechnologie has already stepped up its pace. And with the BrightLine fiber function, the company can also cut thick stainless steel at good quality.
High-precision bent parts
A semi-automatic bending center built by Codatto, an Italian manufacturer, helps make bending faster, too. “We worked with bending robots in the past, but the minimal set up times make the new machine very efficient,” reports Jürgen Gerst. Especially when dealing with large, thin sheets, panel bending technology offers real advantages. The shaped parts can be marketed at more favorable prices and that improves the competitive position. The fact that Codatto is now a part of the TRUMPF corporate group is a further advantage.
In bending, precision plays a major part. “Highly accurate bent components form the basis for satisfactory welding. That makes the Codatto semi-automatic bending center the right investment for us.” This will be even more important in the future, since this sheet metal company has ordered a TruLaser Cell 7040. Precision is also important to processing with the laser welding cell. “We are looking forward to having the new system,” says Jürgen Gerst. “Laser welding injects less energy into the workpiece and makes for even greater accuracy. Ultimately we have to master the rules of the game laid down by our industrial customers — especially in regard to deliveries and quality.”
Contact us: MastersofSheetMetal@trumpf.com
This article was first published in summer 2014.