Digital assembly instructions optimize switch cabinet construction.

Gradual implementation of Control and Switchgear Manufacturing 4.0

Initial situation and project objective

The buzzword industry 4.0 promises adaptable value creation systems that permit profitable manufacturing of customized products, even unique pieces. A variety of expansion stages can be identified on the way to implementing this vision, and each company must complete them individually and in a manner that best reflects their needs. This precipitates a process of continuous change within companies, and the associated challenges are technological, economic and organizational in equal measure.

Solution and customer benefits

The Digitization in Control and Switchgear Manufacturing project by Schaltanlagenbau GmbH H. Westermann addresses precisely these challenges. At base level, each switch cabinet is a unique item − a typical single-piece batch. The value chain is therefore dominated to a large proportion by the assembly process, which in turn involves significant manual tasks.

The medium-sized company with its approx. 70 employees is now on the cusp of morphing from a trades business into an industrial enterprise. Its processes and structures have grown over time and are hampered by media breaks. Significant quantities of data already accumulate today, from quote generation and project planning to commissioning at the customer’s premises. Often this data is not connected and can rarely be used in any profitable way.

The joint project aims to ensure consistent digitization of the value creation process for switch cabinets. A digitization strategy is prepared for the company in order to optimize the manufacturing process for switch cabinets and to minimize the number of mistakes made during assembly. Workshops and meetings between experts and employees from the various functional areas of the company are used to analyze the current value creation processes and to identify where there is room for improvement. This potential is then prioritized based on economic considerations and arranged within an implementation sequence. Two promising measures are also put into practice from the beginning: automated data transfer from project planning to manufacturing, as well as the use of tablets within manufacturing. The project yields a roadmap containing specific measures for how Schaltanlagenbau GmbH H. Westermann can follow a succession of steps to implement Control and Switchgear Manufacturing 4.0.