The most commonly used systems for cleaning and recycling the process water required in mass finishing operations today are centrifuges. For example, Wegmann Automotive, is utilizing a fully automatic Rösler centrifuge, model Z1000. As a pilot customer Wegmann expanded the software for its centrifuge with the “advanced version” of the innovative digital process water management system from Rösler Smart Solutions. Compared to the previously practiced manual process control the new software package with its digital algorithms has produced considerable benefits. It helped not only to improve the overall product quality but also resulted in substantial cost savings.
When it was founded in 1882, the company initially was building carriages. From these modest beginnings Wegmann expanded into a corporate entity with three different business units. Krauss-Maffei Wegmann develops and produces a wide range of products in the field of national defense. Schleifring is a leading provider of systems for the transfer of energy, electrical signals, data and electronic media. With a huge portfolio of balancing weights, tire valves, battery terminals, tire pressure control systems, including suitable service kits and special weights, Wegmann Automotive supplies not only numerous automobile manufacturers but also serves the entire automotive aftermarket. The company, located in Veitshöchheim, Germany, produces more than one billion components per year.
A mass finishing operation that must meet stringent demands
The balancing weights are made as stampings from steel and galvanized steel as well as die-castings from zinc or zinc alloys. Eugen Weizel, the department manager for mass finishing and coating at the Wegmann Automotive company, explains: „After the stamping or die-casting process the weights undergo a part-on-part mass finishing operation in a rotary vibrator. The goal is to completely remove the residual oil left over from the stamping process and the water-based mold release agent left over from the die-casting operation. At the same time the utilized compound provides a corrosion protection for the steel parts. On the other hand, the zinc die-castings require a certain surface tension for the subsequent coating step. The surface tension is carefully monitored and controlled.” Eugen Weizel’s colleague Manuel Salomon, at WAPS (short for Wegmann Automotive Production Systems) responsible for setups in the coating department, trainings and Lean Management, adds: “A high compound concentration in the process water is beneficial for the corrosion protection on the steel parts. But if it is too high, we will not achieve the required surface tension on the zinc components. This can cause inadequate coating results and may even force us to scrap some products.”
The product quality depends on the quality of the process water
Since the process water is recycled, the process water cleaning operation with a fully automatic Z1000 centrifuge from Rösler and the control of the compound concentration are key factors that determine the quality of the balancing weights.
Manuel Salomon: „When the mass finishing machine and the centrifuge were commissioned, we quickly recognized that there is a close correlation between the process water quality and the quality of our products. Therefore, we carefully measured the compound concentration once per week and recorded the measured results. This allowed us to precisely define the compound concentration for our finishing process and correct it as needed.” Since measuring and recording the concentration values was quite time consuming, Wegmann gladly accepted Rösler’s offer to utilize the advanced version of the “digital process water management system” as a pilot user. Eugen Weizel concludes: „We quickly recognized the benefit to further develop and refine the software package together with Rösler, and, at the same time, to deepen our process knowledge.”
The new, interactive monitoring and control system for process water cleaning and recycling with semi- and fully automatic centrifuges is integrated into the centrifuge controls and allows the monitoring, recording and evaluation of all relevant process parameters. At Wegmann this includes measuring the compound concentration by titration or refraction (BRIX), the pH value, the process water conductivity, the water hardness, the microbiological contamination with bacteria, yeast and fungi, chloride contents, CSB value (chemical oxygen demand) and BIT concentration (biocide in the process water). The system also monitors the appearance and the smell of the process liquid. The process water parameters to be monitored can be individually selected and their values adapted to the respective finishing requirements.
In the basic version of the digital process water management system from Rösler Smart Solutions the samples are taken manually and analyzed with suitable measuring devices that can also be supplied by the company. After the data have been entered into the system, the algorithm in the software determines if the measured values are within the specified limits. In case of deviations the dashboard displays suitable actions, which can be immediately implemented. In addition, the technical background and corrective actions are explained in detail. This allows the operator to undertake the measures required to bring back the values into the acceptable range and to secure the desired process stability. Since all parameters are stored in the system, they can be retrieved at any time, for example, in the form of a table or a chart. The latter helps to prevent unwanted and costly downtimes by carrying out necessary process water changes during periods, when they are not interfering with the manufacturing operations. The complete documentation of the operational parameters is also a valuable tool to prove the process quality and process stability during quality audits as well as for validation purposes.
Recommended actions can also be called up in case of events that affect the overall quality of the mass finishing process. This includes foaming during the process, corrosion of the work pieces or insufficient work piece cleanliness that could negatively affect subsequent manufacturing steps. Manuel Salomon comments: „The pointers and recommended actions are extremely helpful. In the past we measured the process parameters. But when it came to the necessary corrections, we were entirely on our own. And in case of process problems we had to search for solutions ourselves, or we had to ask for help by telephone. Today the digital system provides all the support we need. This is especially helpful for colleagues with little knowledge of mass finishing and process water cleaning and recycling.”
A simple solution that can be quickly implemented
The smart process water management system has been in operation at Wegmann Automotive since the middle of March this year.
Eugen Weizel remarks: „The software structure is well organized and easily understandable. And the system can be fully utilized after a short training. All critical data are arranged so that they can be viewed at a glance. And the entire information is presented in an easy-to-understand manner.”
While in the past the compound concentration was only measured once per week, now it is measured twice, once in the morning and once in the afternoon of a particular day. In addition, the pH value is recorded, and the appearance and smell of the process water is monitored. „This approach provides us with valuable information about our process. For example, the development of the compound concentration tells us that due to a higher
volume of oily work pieces we must increase the compound dosing rate to maintain the required process water quality,” explains Manuel Salomon, who continues: „Another example is the microbiological contamination. In the past we did not control this at all. If the contamination is too high, it can have an adverse effect on the corrosion protection of steel parts.”
Significantly improved process stability and cost-efficiency
For monitoring the various parameters with the digital process water management system Wegmann Automotive needs about 20 minutes per week. Compared to the once-per-week measurement of the compound concentration this requires about 15 minutes more. But the technical and economic benefits achieved by the digital system are so significant that the company gladly accepts the fact that a bit more time must be invested.
Eugen Weizel concludes: „With the digital process water management system we find out quickly, if for example, the compound concentration is no longer adequate. Since this could have an adverse effect for subsequent manufacturing steps, we are grateful to have such a valuable, early warning system. Our finishing process is now not only a lot more stable but also more economical.”
Therefore, it is not surprising that the company is interested in the next version of the digital process water management system from Rösler Smart Solutions. This allows the automatic measurement, evaluation and recording of the process parameters.
Transparent and efficient processes with QM software
Focus on user-friendliness
Working with people requires a completely different understanding of quality than in the manufacturing industry. Social, communicative and interpersonal goals are in the foreground, but at the same time social institutions must also meet business and legal requirements. A well-structured quality management system supports social service providers such as Lebenshilfen, welfare associations, operators of day-care centers or operators of other social facilities.
ConSense’s software solutions stand for transparent, user-friendly quality management and integrated management systems. The software helps to make processes clearer and more efficient, to clearly define responsibilities and to fulfill documentation requirements. At the same time, the management system facilitates compliance with the standards and guidelines applicable to the respective facility. The ConSense software solutions have been developed with a special focus on user-friendliness and the mapping of realistic processes. Employees can navigate quickly and intuitively on the clear interface, and a comprehensive search function guides them directly to the desired content.
Software-supported quality management saves time
The QM software enables complete electronic QM documentation with automated, intelligent document control. Further automations, such as the targeted distribution of information, the request for notifications and the revision and archiving of documents, significantly reduce the administrative workload for employees. At the same time, the software offers integrated process management including a process editor for simple and fast process modeling. This simplifies the continuous improvement of processes and the transparency and clarity of documentation increase.
QM software for social institutions with many locations
Management system software solutions are suitable for organizations of all sizes. With a wide range of functions, interfaces and configuration options, they can be optimally adapted to the needs of the respective institution. The IMS ENTERPRISE solution, for example, is ideal for setting up an integrated management system in facilities with multiple locations or complex organizational structures. All applicable standards and regulations are systematically mapped under a uniform interface and compliance with specifications is supported.
In addition to the quality management standard DIN EN ISO 9001, many other standards or guidelines are also relevant in the social sector, such as DIN EN ISO 45001 (occupational health and safety), HACCP (hygiene concepts in relation to food), DIN EN ISO 15224 (quality management in healthcare), KQT (Cooperation for Transparency and Quality in Healthcare) and the AZAV regulation (Accreditation and Approval Regulation for Employment Promotion). An Integrated Management System helps to harmonize these and thus also makes it easier to meet the criteria for accreditations or certifications.
The solutions for QM systems and integrated management systems from the Aachen-based software developer can also be supplemented as required with modules, such as for measures management, audit management, training management and many more, and thus specifically tailored to the requirements of the organization.
Easy roll-out, mobile deployment
These software solutions can be rolled out quickly and flexibly within the company. The ConSense PORTAL is a web-based management system solution for which the company can also provide hosting. The web application simplifies and accelerates the roll-out compared to desktop applications. Since it can also be used on the move, it is particularly suitable for social institutions whose employees work with the system regardless of time and location.
Three out of four companies already use services from the cloud, and the trend is rising (source: Bitkom). This is shown by several surveys. In particular, this enables many companies to keep pace with the greatly changed hardware and software requirements. Companies’ expectations of cloud-enabled concepts are high – also in engineering. For them, the question is whether previous on-premise solutions are also cloud-capable? Solution provider Eplan already launched its first cloud products and services years ago. Now the spectrum is being expanded in the context of the cloud:
Eplan offers customers of the Eplan platform a standardized and free implementation concept for the provision of the platform in the Microsoft Azure Cloud. The prerequisite for this is that these customers have already set up or are setting up their company’s own cloud infrastructure in Microsoft Azure. In addition, the company offers professional consulting for implementation. The operation of the cloud infrastructure and the Eplan software remains in the hands of the customer. Companies benefit from an installation package that has been tested and preconfigured as executable, combined with state-of-the-art deployment technology.
The solution is deployed globally through the Microsoft Azure Marketplace, following proven quality standards. In addition to being verified by the solution provider, the applications have also been validated by Microsoft. Thanks to the worldwide availability of Microsoft Azure, this offers global companies in particular the opportunity to move their engineering to the cloud and thus facilitate cross-location work. Deployed in the customer’s own cloud environment, the responsibility for operating and maintaining the software and the associated infrastructure remains with the customer.
Implementation concept facilitates entry
The motivation for a complete move to the cloud is often similar: companies decide to move their existing and local IT landscapes to the cloud. This makes it possible to significantly reduce overall IT management costs or outsource them to external cloud service providers. However, there is also a challenge in every changeover: companies often need intensive support, for example when it comes to the specification of the cloud infrastructure, integrations with other systems or location-independent database access. Eplan has developed a sophisticated implementation concept that provides assistance in implementing the solutions in the company-specific cloud. In addition, the Eplan consultants offer support during the set-up via a wide range of consulting services.
Sustained dynamic sales development and rising profitability
BRAIN Biotech AG has now published its half-year figures for 6M 2021/22. After a dynamic start to the financial year, the Group has now continued its strong revenue momentum in the second quarter. Both business units contributed to a dynamic revenue development and a positive operating leverage effect. Taking into account the acquisition of Breatec B.V. and excluding the continued high investments in the proprietary CRISPR genome editing platform, management now expects sales of around €50 million and a slightly positive adjusted EBITDA for the fiscal year. CRISPR-related investments for the full year will remain at around €2.5 – 3.5 million.
“We are very pleased that we were able to maintain the positive operating momentum of the last two quarters despite increasing challenges in the global supply chain and rising material costs. The continued positive momentum is clearly noticeable in both business units and also makes us optimistic for the development in the further course of the fiscal year. Without supply chain constraints, we would have been able to grow even more dynamically, particularly in the BioIndustrial segment. The integration of our baking enzyme specialist Breatec is proceeding according to plan and we expect to leverage extensive synergies within our BioIndustrial businesses in the coming years.”
– Adriaan Moelker, CEO
In the first six months of fiscal 2021/2022, the Group generated sales of €23.3 million compared to €18 million in the same period last year, an increase of 29.3%. Sales in the second quarter of 2021/22 amounted to €13.1 million. This corresponds to an increase of 31.9% compared with the second quarter of the previous year. On an organic basis, i.e. excluding the acquisition of Breatec, sales in the second quarter increased by 20.4% to €11.9 million.
Adjusted Group EBITDA increased significantly by €2.2 million in the first six months of fiscal 2021/22, from €-2.0 million in the previous year to €0.2 million. Adjusted EBITDA in the second quarter increased year-on-year from € -0.6 million to € 0.5 million. Following the payment of the purchase price for the acquisition of Breatec B.V., ongoing investments in the expansion of fermentation capacities at Biocatalysts Ltd. and a Series B financing at SolasCure Ltd. the cash position at the end of the quarter was a solid € 16.4 million.
Genome Editing Toolbox: The company received an international search report and written opinion from the European Patent Office (EPO) in January 2022. The positive written opinion states that the engineered cas (BEC) nucleases for which patent protection is sought under the Patent Corporation Treaty (PCT) constitute an inventive step with respect to the BEC nuclease sequences and are industrially exploitable and not otherwise excluded from patent protection. The corresponding sequences of BEC nucleases are therefore considered patentable by the EPO. This is an important milestone in the regular patent application process and confirms the view of the management and the scientific team that the proprietary BEC technology is a novel and clearly differentiated genome editing tool.
New Group member Breatec B.V.: In February, the Group entered into an agreement to acquire an initial 62% stake in Breatec B.V. from its current owners. In addition, an agreed call/put option allows BRAIN to acquire the entire company by the end of the first quarter of 2027. Breatec was founded in 2006 and is located in the south central region of the Netherlands near the Belgian and German borders, surrounded by many leading international companies in the food industry. In calendar year 2021, Breatec generated revenues of approximately €7 million with a positive EBITDA contribution. The acquisition will be fully consolidated by the company as of February 1, 2022.
Cooperation with Formo GmbH: BRAIN and Formo launched a strategic cooperation in February to further advance the production of animal-free milk proteins. Formo is a pioneering foodtech startup in the field of alternative milk proteins and will expand its production of bioidentical milk proteins with a genome editing technology; leveraging its expertise as well as the proprietary BEC platform. The strategic alliance aims to optimize microorganisms to further expand novel and sustainable protein production for commercial use through precision fermentation.