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Software Increases Process Reliability

Software Increases Process Reliability

Here’s how a quality data management software has helped Metabowerke GmbH to optimize its measuring and manufacturing processes. Article by ZEISS.

If employees at Metabowerke GmbH, a manufacturer of professional power tools and accessories, find a piece of chocolate at their workstations on the first workday of the new month, then everyone knows that the previous month was a profitable one. The chocolate is one way that management shows its appreciation, and this is hardly a one-off occurrence. Employees think so highly of their employer that, as the result of an employee survey, Metabo was named “Best Employer” amongst mid-sized companies in 2014 by the German magazine Focus.

Achim Schmid, Quality Coordinator in the Housing Technology Center, shares his colleagues’ high opinion of Metabo. For him, the approximately 1,100 employees in Nurtingen are always ready to give 110 percent because company management acknowledges everyone’s contributions. 

“We know that at Metabo, our opinions and know-how matter,” says Schmid. The company’s flat hierarchies make sure that everyone is heard and can actively contribute.

There is an interdepartmental mindset at Metabo that encourages employees to work with their colleagues from different areas. This approach played a key role in the company’s decision to purchase ZEISS PiWeb quality data management software. After Control 2015, an international trade fair for quality assurance solutions held in Germany, Schmid was personally “more than convinced that Metabo would benefit from using ZEISS software. But first I wanted to make sure everyone else was on board.”

The software was presented to employees and discussions were held, some of which were attended by ZEISS representatives. The end result: Metabo ultimately decided to invest in ZEISS PiWeb sbs in the middle of 2016, and has been using this software in the Housing Manufacturing department at their site since December.

Wireless Systems Instead of Cable Spaghetti

When attending the trade event Control 2015, what initially impressed Schmid about ZEISS PiWeb was the possibility of transferring manually captured measuring and inspection data directly to the system via a wireless connection.

“I really liked that you could easily integrate manual measuring tools,” says Schmid, who has been working at Metabo as quality coordinator for almost 31 years. The feature was “ideal” because various manual measuring tools are in use at the measuring stations in the Housing Manufacturing area. Prior to the introduction of ZEISS PiWeb, these systems were connected via cables, which not only limit employees’ mobility but also broke quite frequently, making it impossible to transfer the data to the system. The technology was not very reliable, and uptime was limited because the measurement plan had to be processed at one go. This meant that captured data could not be saved in between measurements.

“But now, these problems are a thing of the past thanks to ZEISS PiWeb,” says Schmid. For example, if an employee is measuring the gearbox housing of a flat-head angle grinder, they just need to open the corresponding measurement plan in the ZEISS software. The employee moves the cursor to the appropriate field in the table comprising a total of 17 characteristics, which must be measured by hand. With the push of a button, the employee transfers these data from the manual measuring tool to the system. If the value is within the stipulated tolerance, then a green dot appears immediately. A red dot indicates that the workpiece does not meet the quality requirements for this characteristic. It used to be the case that the employee would have to change software and then search for the corresponding data set in the statistics solution. Now, they can view the measurement values for the previous 500 measurements just by using the report templates in ZEISS PiWeb.

“This way, our team sees immediately if this is an outlier or if there is a trend towards exceeded tolerances,” says Schmid. This knowledge enables Schmid and his colleagues to steer the production process more quickly than before.

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