A CAQ SYSTEM – PERFECTLY INTEGRATED INTO SAP
A CAQ system with certified SAP integration and retroactively implemented multi-client capability within an extraordinary server architecture? When they came upon Böhme & Weihs, the ART Group in Hockenheim found a solution partner capable of fulfilling their highest demands to their utmost satisfaction. The close cooperation with this CAQ provider resulted in the development of a fully integrated CAQ solution at ART – leading to vital improvements in quality and increased efficiency.
The ART Group manufactures cabling systems, housing technology, control and switch cabinets, as well as mechatronic systems – making them an important partner for a range of leading industrial companies in numerous different sectors. ART offers customized solutions – producing these on either an individual, made-to-order basis or as part of a series, depending on the respective customer requirements. As ART’s products are mostly deployed in system-critical areas, their customers take high quality levels for granted. This means that ART is in need of an exceptionally powerful organization to be able to meet the constantly increasing internal and external demands placed on them. This was achieved back in 2012 when the CASQ-it CAQ system supplied by Böhme & Weihs Systemtechnik GmbH & Co. KG was introduced.
The ART group of companies currently employs around 550 people – generating an annual turnover of € 60 million in 2018. The Polish ART plant in Plakowice, which has developed into an important production site since its foundation in 1995, supplies goods directly to Hockenheim. Connecting up ART Plakowice to the CAQ system in Hockenheim was, therefore, a crucial component of the quality policy within the ART Group with respect to ensuring smooth workflows in the incoming goods inspection and complaints management sections across both locations.
TWO SEPARATE SELECTION PROCESSES LED TO THE SAME RESULT: BÖHME & WEIHS
Since the end of the 1990s – and prior to implementing CASQ-it, ART had been using another provider’s CAQ solution – one which, however, only covered the complaints management process. Many quality-relevant processes external to complaints management had to be documented manually in Microsoft Word and Excel. It was not possible to connect up to SAP. Going through this process not only took up a lot of time but also led to transmission errors sneaking in. Back in 2008, it was already clear to the then quality manager that a more powerful CAQ system would need to be introduced – the essential requirement being that this could be directly integrated into the SAP processes.
When this was originally researched, the choice fell on Böhme & Weihs. However, before finally being able to get to work on the project, the group of companies began to feel the effects of the global financial crisis of 2008/2009 – like so many other companies. As a result, a large share of the new investments were temporarily put on hold as a safety measure. When Waldemar Surauf took over as Head of Quality Management in Hockenheim in 2012, the budget for larger-scale investments had once again been freed up. It was also obvious to him that the CAQ solution which had been in place since well before the year 2000 no longer met the demands posed by modern-day networking systems and Industry 4.0.
Without allowing himself to be influenced by the efforts of his predecessor, he set out to find a suitable solution partner – and came to exactly the same result: Böhme & Weihs. The decisive factors for both quality managers were first and foremost the high level of consulting expertise and the certified SAP interface, CASQ-it Connect for SAP, which was designed and supplied solely by Böhme & Weihs without the help of third-party providers.
IT ALL BEGAN WITH FOUR MODULES
Since embarking upon their cooperation with Böhme & Weihs, ART has been deploying four CASQ-it modules: IGI for their incoming goods inspection processes, CMEA for complaints management, PPAP for their production and part approval process and GMS for their gauge management system. The connection to SAP was made using CASQ-it Connect for SAP. This guarantees ART access to all their important master data, such as accounts payable and accounts receivable, as well as transaction data, such as information on incoming and outgoing goods – which means huge time savings and high data quality levels for ART. With approx. 70,000 incoming goods inspections annually – a figure which is on the increase, IGI is the most important module for ART as it allows them to completely comply with all their customer quality requirements – even when running at high capacity. Currently, a total of 20 employees are working with these four modules within the CAQ system.
At the beginning of the project, the question arose as to whether the Citrix XenApp thin client solution used by ART would cause problems for the CASQ-it Q-Studio browser. However, thanks to excellent communications between Böhme & Weihs and ART’s IT department, all concerns could be quickly swept aside. The CAQ solution runs reliably – despite this extraordinary network environment.
ENHANCEMENT TOOLS CONVINCE QUALITY MANAGERS
ART is delighted with how easy it is to access CASQ-it. The system allows them to add their own Workflow Objects (WFO) in arrears. WFOs are buttons that can be inserted on top of the user interface of other software solutions , allowing access to other programs without having to leave one’s familiar working environment. This enables the CAQ solution to be adapted to new requirements or work processes within ART at any time.
For example, ART was able to independently integrate a photo box, which they had developed themselves for their incoming goods inspection division, into the system. All an employee now needs to do is to simply scan a goods receipt slip and then place the respective parts in this box. This automatically takes a photo which is then made immediately available in both the CASQ-it test plan and SAP. In addition, the CASQ-it IGI module relieves the employee of unnecessary paperwork by automatically inserting the data received from the hand-held scanner in the incoming goods inspection section straight into the corresponding IGI form fields.
In order to avoid extensive and time-consuming employee training, the work processes associated with a complaint were simplified. All that now happens is that an email is sent to the workplace of the person responsible for the respective production process. This email contains a button which directs him/her straight to the right complaint. Once there, he/she can enter the information needed to be able to process the complaint – more in-depth training or an enhanced knowledge of the system are no longer required.
A CROSS-SITE QUALITY MANAGEMENT SYSTEM
Right at the very beginning of the partnership with Böhme & Weihs, the possibility of being able to connect several sites with different access rights to the CAQ system was a decisive criterion.
This function, known as multi-client capability, allows cross-plant collaboration between ART Hockenheim and ART Plakowice. After CASQ-it had stood the test for two years at ART’s headquarters, the integration of the Polish site followed.
This became necessary as the share of additional components being purchased at the Plakowice site skyrocketed following the transfer of some of the production processes over to Poland. The IGI module was then activated in Poland to meet demands for the quality of the deliveries to remain constantly at the same high level. To achieve this, ART made use of the system’s multi-client capability which allows information in the CAQ system to be used at both locations simultaneously and in multiple languages, whereby content is approved and controlled centrally in Hockenheim. This allowed the site in Poland to work directly with the incoming goods inspection system, without the need for time-consuming inspection plan generation. This ensures that all the goods are inspected according to standardized quality specifications and that no location-specific changes to these specifications are made.
Böhme & Weihs’ CAQ solution allows employees at different locations to work simultaneously on a single SAP data set using CASQ-it, without being fed inconsistent data from different sources.
Due to just-in-time logistics, it was impossible for ART in Hockenheim to carry out a 100% inspection of all the components delivered from Plakowice due to the volume of parts involved and time pressure. Through CASQ-it, it was possible to realize an upstream incoming goods inspection process at the Plakowice site prior to the manufactured parts actually leaving the plant. Now, all deliveries from Poland arriving at Hockenheim can simply skip the incoming goods inspection procedure.
TEST PLANS WITH A MODULAR DESIGN
ART’s strength lies in their close, project-related collaboration with their customers. Cabling and switch cabinets are produced either in series or according to individual requirements, whereby ART always relies on high-quality components from large suppliers. In order to avoid having to create a completely new test plan for each individual project, ART has set up their own test plans in the CAQ software for all the different product groups. These test plans are now automatically compiled in CASQ-it based on a modular design. This means that each individual project can now be tested without any additional effort – despite its unique character.
If ART would like to add a new supplier to their supplier database, this supplier must first qualify for a cooperation according to ART’s specifications. This involves the evaluation of the supplier according to criteria stored in the CAQ software, such as location, competencies, standards, and references. This information is then added to IGI’s master supplier database according to an internal points system and later flows into the supplier evaluation. Before the introduction of the new CAQ system, these data were merely kept in Excel lists.
Compared to the era of the old CAQ system using Excel lists, employees today can check and manage up to three times the volume of goods in the same amount of time. And the number of incoming goods inspections has continued to rise steadily ever since the system was first introduced. In 2018, there were 64,000 incoming goods inspections; by the end of 2019, this number is expected to rise even further.
A SUSTAINABLE CAQ SOLUTION
For ART, CASQ-it was definitely the right decision – resulting in high data quality levels through the avoidance of transmission errors, time savings through the optimization of the incoming goods inspection process, and improved product quality. However, this does not mean that the optimization of the quality management processes has now been completed. In the future, all the quality management work that is still done on paper today will also be handled by the CAQ system. To achieve this goal, ART will once again make use of the extensive customization options offered by CASQ-it. In order to simplify the inspection processes in both the assembly inspection and final inspection areas, they also plan to introduce the CASQ-it BII module to manage their intermediate inspections. Thanks to the flexible, modular design of the software and the possibility of combining individual test plans with family test plans, ART feels that they are well prepared for the next steps . The employees at ART can totally rely on their CAQ software and their dedicated quality management team.