CAQ: THE KEY TO TOTAL PROCESS INTEGRATION

Innovation capability and future orientation – these are what Gebr. Becker GmbH, a leading international manufacturer of vacuum and pneumatic technology, expect not only themselves but also their strategic partners to deliver. Combined with a large helping of customer orientation, these abilities enable Becker to create integrated solutions to meet individual requirements. Böhme & Weihs Systemtechnik was just the partner Becker were looking for to implement their expectations of a modern quality management system. Through the interaction of the CASQ-it CAQ and the SAP ERP systems, a highly dynamic, intelligent quality network was created – certified, automated and deployed globally.

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In many industries, it is hard to imagine a production process without air – provided that it can be supplied reliably and precisely. For example, in the packaging industry: Boxes are transported and folded using vacuum technology. The shelf life of a product can be extended, if it is produced in a vacuum or under modified atmospheric conditions created by vacuum. This is made possible using quality vacuum and pneumatic technology products, such as those produced by Gebr. Becker GmbH in Wuppertal. The areas in which vacuum pumps, compressors and air supply systems can be used are manifold – ranging from the paper and printing industry and 3D printing to the packaging, medicine and construction industries, as well as the electronics and timber processing sectors.

Alongside the company’s main office in Wuppertal, Gebr. Becker GmbH operate two further production facilities, one in Apolda in Thuringia and the other in Shanghai – as well as a number of sales offices throughout the Federal Republic. On an international level, the company has subsidiaries and agencies located in around 50 countries – the result of a company history which goes back over 130 years. Today, the fourth generation of the family now runs the company, employing around 800 people all over the world and achieving an annual turnover of over € 150m. The columns on which this success rests: Responsible company management, a strong customer and employee orientation, a reliability which is now practically expected of the company and exceptional product quality.

CHOICE OF THE RIGHT CAQ PARTNER

To guarantee these uncompromising quality levels, Gebr. Becker have set high standards for all their company processes and products which are regularly audited in accordance with ISO 9001, ISO 14001, OHSAS 18001 and ISO 50001. Always at the center of focus: Increasing efficiency – in order to be able to optimize their processes, take the load off their employees and reduce costs. This explains why Gebr. Becker have relied on a computer-aided quality management system right from the early days. The first step was to introduce SAP in their incoming goods inspection section. However, the growing demands for a more in-depth quality monitoring system pushed the existing ERP system to its limits. A CAQ system which was introduced in 2004 also proved incapable of keeping pace with the continued development of the company. The requirement to more closely link the ERP and CAQ systems and get a dialog going between them was apparently going to be extremely costly and involve yet more external partners. For Gebr. Becker, this was a totally inacceptable solution which is why they decided, in 2013, to switch to a CAQ provider that incorporated all the required competencies.

It quickly became apparent that Gebr. Becker had chosen the right partner when they selected Böhme & Weihs Systemtechnik. Within just a few months, the CASQ-it CAQ system had been installed, fully integrated and aligned to the individual needs of Gebr. Becker. The result was a true quality network, which today not only closely links different software systems, departments and plants, but also allows automated communication between them. The intelligent interaction between ERP and CAQ is certainly the most important factor. Using their standard, SAP-certified tools, Böhme & Weihs configured a highly individual interface between these systems. A secure, fast and, above all, dynamic connection.

INTEGRATED INCOMING GOODS SECTION: EFFICIENT QUALITY INSPECTION FOR 15M PARTS

Gebr. Becker use CASQ-it to monitor the quality of around 500 active suppliers – from their own departments, which are managed as internal suppliers, to external supply partners, from whom the raw and semi-finished parts for the future devices are purchased. Annual number of incoming goods: around 15 million parts! This requires a perfectly structured and intelligent inspection process to ensure the efficiency of the incoming goods section despite such huge  delivery volumes.

And this is where the special intelligence between the CAQ and ERP systems comes into play: SAP informs CASQ-it of every incoming delivery. And the CAQ system automatically generates the corresponding test order. But only where this makes sense! This is because there is usually a quality assurance agreement in place with external suppliers and only certain deliveries require a comprehensive incoming goods inspection. In accordance with the Gebr. Becker-specific logic, CASQ-it checks every incoming goods shipment: Did the last delivery give rise to any complaints? Or does the delivery concern a development project? Or do function-relevant characteristics of the supplied parts have to be monitored? Only in such cases is a test job created, displayed to the employees in the incoming goods section for examination, and a detailed usage decision reported back to SAP following the inspection.

Reduced organizational effort through automation and a reduced inspection frequency through intelligent dynamization – the time and cost savings through the certified integration of the SAP and CASQ-it systems are enormous. Consequently, this interplay continues throughout the production process – from Wuppertal via Apolda and all the way to Shanghai in China.

CAD IMPORT AND INSPECTION PLANNING ACCORDING TO HIGHER-LEVEL PRODUCT FAMILIES ENSURE EFFICIENCY

Gebr. Becker produce around 100,000 devices and systems annually in a three-shift system. And every single one of these undergoes a large number of tests during production in order to monitor product and process quality – from operator self-tests and automated dimensional tests using gauges to functional tests at special test benches. All the results of these tests converge centrally in CASQ-it – and nearly all of these tests are initiated, managed, monitored and documented by CASQ-it.

Ein Vakuum System von Gebrüder Becker

The test plans stored in CASQ-it are the foundation on which all of these quality inspections are based. And these are created in combination with the drawing-based infra-CONVERT inspection planning system supplied by ELIAS GmbH – virtually at the touch of a button. Characteristics are automatically numbered, imported from a wide variety of CAD drawing formats and then merged into an overall test plan containing all the details. But CASQ-it also ensures efficient inspection planning without CAD drawings. This is where Gebr. Becker’s particular strongpoint becomes a challenge: The large number of different models concerned. Although the number of basic device types, approximately 160, is manageable, these can actually be adapted by the customers to meet their own requirements in an extremely flexible manner. To start with, there are 30 standard colors to choose from, plus various filters, power drives, circuits and controls. CASQ-it can flexibly accommodate this diverse range of models. No matter how individually a device may be configured by the customer, only a few mouse clicks are needed for CASQ-it to be able to create an individual device test plan – which is the basis on which CAQ-controlled quality monitoring is carried out during the production process – from the higher-level family test plans.

EXEMPLARY NETWORKING ACROSS THE ENTIRE PRODUCTION CHAIN

As soon as a production order is triggered in SAP, CASQ-it reacts immediately: Which test plan applies to this specific device configuration? And which quality checks will the device undergo prior to delivery? CASQ-it independently generates all the relevant test orders and makes these available to the appropriate test stations – from the test station for operator self-tests to sophisticated measuring systems and the test station in the outgoing goods section:

  • Networked with 30 test stations

Quality monitoring in the processing, assembly, paintwork and shipping sections is carried out directly by the operators using the CASQ-it test stations, whereby CASQ-it differentiates precisely between which test jobs are to be carried out where. As the CAQ system knows the Gebr. Becker-specific company structures: The operators only see the test orders relevant to their own particular work areas at their individual facilities. The employees  simply scan the bar codes on the accompanying SAP cards and CASQ-it automatically  starts the corresponding operator self-tests.

  • Networked with six gauges

Whether we are talking about Wuppertal, Apolda or Shanghai: All the results from the six ZEISS gauges are centrally collected in CASQ-it. For the first part tests alone, this means up to 25 measurements per day, covering approx. 300 characteristics. On top of this, initial samples are tested, and additional capability studies carried out. Every three minutes, CASQ-it imports this multitude of quality data in Q-DAS data format. The data import system is as intelligent as it is efficient: Each reading, together with the time when the test was carried out, is automatically assigned to the respective characteristic number in the test plan. And CASQ-it even goes one step further: If the measurement value log contains data that applies to a completely new characteristic, this is independently added to the respective test plan. And if there is currently no test plan in the CAQ system for the measured values, CASQ-it even creates a completely new test plan – automation in perfection.

  • Connected to nine test benches

Gebr. Becker offer premium quality. Therefore, without exception, every vacuum pump, every compressor and every air supply system undergoes a functional test prior to delivery. At special test benches, these are tested to ensure they are functioning perfectly during two to four hours of continuous operation. CASQ-it generates the respective test orders and makes them available at the test facilities in Wuppertal and Apolda, whereby the system  differentiates between functional tests for devices and tests for air supply systems. Every day, up to 3,500 readings are generated and consolidated by CASQ-it to create valuable quality information.

The intelligent connection between CASQ-it and the numerous checkpoints along the production line allow Gebr. Becker to efficiently implement this quality monitoring system despite its complexity and extremely close-meshed design. However, the resulting data volumes need to be accordingly controlled because it is only possible to react fast and in a targeted manner, if these data are precise and sufficiently informative.

QUALITY INFORMATION IN A NUTSHELL – FOR OVER 10,000 TESTS EACH AND EVERY DAY

Each and every day, CASQ-it imports, processes and analyzes up to 10,000 test results from Wuppertal, Apolda and Shanghai. The challenge is to be able to distinguish between the important and the unimportant data – whilst still retaining direct access to all the data: Quite often trends and problem areas only become apparent when a variety of different information is combined. For the employees in the quality management section, the daily log is an indispensable tool.

This daily log provides an immediate overview of all the test results. Different colored symbols mark appr. tests, tolerance violations, attribute-based errors and tests with comments attached in a compact overview. For all the different shifts, locations and over any desired period of time. For the employees in the quality management section, there is no faster means of obtaining an overview of the several thousand tests carried out each and every day. As a result, reviewing the daily log has become an indispensable routine task. The daily log contains virtually unlimited analysis options. Every single mouse click changes or deepens the perspective: What defects have arisen during the night shift in China? How did the functional tests for a specific device type go during the past four weeks? Critical production processes, problem orders or anomalies in specific features are immediately obvious – allowing suitable countermeasures to be introduced.

VERNETZTES REKLAMATIONSMANAGEMENT MACHT SERVICEDATEN NUTZBAR

For Gebr. Becker, networking and automation do not stop at the boundaries of the company’s own facilities but stretch far beyond – even reaching the mobile service technicians they deploy all over the world whose feedback on repair and maintenance work carried out onsite at customer locations offers enormous potential for the company’s  quality management efforts: A trigger for improving both products and processes. To achieve this, the relevant service data must be accordingly processed and passed on from the mobile technicians to the quality management section – all without any extra effort on the part of the employees involved. The certified connection between SAP and CASQ-it also meets this requirement.

All the technicians need to do is to simply record all the respective data and damage symptoms related to the service call on the customer’s premises using Becker’s own app and then transfer these over to the SAP system. The ERP system informs the CAQ system of this incoming service notification. Only if this notification is relevant to quality does CASQ-it automatically create a new complaints transaction, adding any missing information, such as the date on which production was completed and the respective warranty period. Special feature: Instead of creating a separate complaint in the CAQ system for every incoming transaction in SAP, CASQ-it combines transactions with the same customer, device type or error code to create just one single complaint.

The service notification is analyzed and processed according to the 8D system. Step by step, the description provided by the service technician is analyzed in more depth and the core of the customer’s problem elaborated using intelligent root cause analysis tools. Proceeding in this manner shows very clearly which improvement measures can be used to achieve even greater customer benefit. And it is precisely these measures that provide the quality management and product development sections with valuable stimuli for new technologies, further product improvements and the ability to optimize the company’s own production processes on a permanent basis.

AROUND ONE IN FIVE EMPLOYEES USE THE CAQ SYSTEM

Transparent information in a nutshell, tightly integrated processes and intelligently automated work steps: These features of the CAQ system also quickly won over employees working outside the quality management section. Whether we are talking about the development, sales or spare part purchasing divisions – each and every section that comes into contact with the product now works with CASQ-it. Supported by a self-explanatory user interface, between 100 and 150 employees now have daily access to all the company’s  relevant quality information – through respective indicators and analyses.