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Optimization measures
Service shortens repair times

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Plant Construction, Engineering & Components
The new Fast Lane Service for Gea Separators enables repairs in less than 10 days. Picture: Gea
The new Fast Lane Service for Gea Separators enables repairs in less than 10 days. (Picture: Gea)

Following a series of optimization measures at its Center of Excellence in Oelde, Gea has already began significantly reducing the general repair times of its separators. Infrastructure and organizational improvements, as well as the appointment of an Assessment Coordinator, have enabled numerous synergies, resulting in inspection and repair times being reduced by up to 40% worldwide. For particularly urgent cases, the company is now offering a Fast Lane Service, which enables affected separators to be repaired in less than 10 days, depending on the requirements.

Even the short-term breakdown of a separator can, in worst-case scenarios, halt the entire production which can result in heavy economic losses for companies. Such situations require quick analysis and repair. In most instances, the separator must be transported to a certified Gea workshop to ensure authorized repair by the original manufacturer, which includes the necessary safety tests. Shipment, reporting, repair, inspection and return require a certain time frame, which can be bridged via bowl rentals or spare parts – however, this is not always the optimal solution for customers. The company has therefore developed a Fast Lane Service for particularly urgent repairs, which are handled by a dedicated team who take care of these prioritized requests. These employees work alongside Gea’s regular diagnostic and repair service teams, but have the advantage of being able to exclusively handle prioritized cases more quickly. The Fast Lane Service is offered for separators in all application areas with a surcharge based on bowl diameter.

The Fast Lane offer is currently limited due to capacity and time considerations. For this reason, a small steering team will decide on the urgency of each repair based on diverse criteria. Once a repair is prioritized, the operational team takes over the order, managing the entire process which includes cooperating with the specialist departments as well as arranging for the dispatch of parts and repaired machines – reducing overall lead times by up to 80%. With its considerable reduction in repair times and optional Fast Lane offer, Gea has achieved an important improvement in its service which is a clear plus for customer satisfaction.

Measurement, Instrumentation, Control & Automation Plant Construction, Engineering & Components Videos

Product Video
Speed controllers with push-lock system

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SMC´s Featured Products Video: AS-A & AS-FS – Speed controllers with push-lock system

With the AS-A & AS-FS series, users can easily and quickly set the speed of the pneumatic drive.

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Plant Construction, Engineering & Components

Industry 4.0
Continental launches qualification initiative

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Continental has founded an institute for technology and transformation. The primary task of the new institute is the qualification of all employees in Germany. Initially, the focus is on the group of untrained and semi-skilled workers, who Continental is giving access to further education and training programs certified by the Chamber of Industry and Commerce. The institute’s services cover Industry 4.0, new drive concepts and digitalization.

“As electrification and digitalization become more widespread, simple tasks are being replaced by more complex tasks that require training. These changes are far-reaching and affect the entire industry. Qualification is therefore only possible through a sensible sharing of the burden: lawmakers, trade unions and companies must all work together,“ explains Dr. Ariane Reinhart, Executive Board member for Human Relations. “Above all, the employees also need to play their part. Our institute provides the framework for self-development and maintaining their employability.”

The company uses the Continental Institute of Technology and Transformation (CITT) to actively manage the transformation process currently taking place across the entire automotive industry. The institute was designed in collaboration with the Continental Corporate Works Council, IG Metall and IG Bergbau, Chemie, Energie (Metal, Mining, Chemical and Energy Industries Unions) to secure the long-term employability of employees.

Qualification only works if employees invest their own time

The projected costs for needs-based qualification are huge. They include both training costs and costs for lost working hours. “The qualification of employees is a task of historic proportions. As a company, we bear overall responsibility but cannot implement needs-based qualification alone. To train only 20 percent of our employees in Germany for nine months would cost us €1 billion,“ explains Reinhart. Continental is accordingly calling on lawmakers, companies and, above all, employees to share the costs of the necessary qualifications. “The Qualification Opportunity Act is the first step. But we also need our employees to be willing to change and invest time outside working hours in their own qualification.“

CITT offers certified further vocational education and training courses

Continental is implementing a transparent, selective approach to strategic workforce planning to determine the future qualification requirements of different employee groups. Validated diagnostic procedures are used to compare the individual skills and abilities of employees with their future field of activity. Further training is provided wherever qualification is required. The institute is initially focusing on further training programs for production employees. The first measures start in September. The qualification opportunities for Industry 4.0, new drive concepts and digitalization will be gradually extended for the selective further education and training of all employees in Germany. In order to achieve this objective, the institute is devising an appropriate qualification strategy, establishing the required program structure, managing the different training options and ensuring standardized implementation at the various locations. The quality of the training will also be assured by ICC certifications and vocational qualifications. “It was very important to us to assume responsibility at an early stage. The purpose of founding the CITT was in the interests of all our employees, to define the framework and measures that will secure their future employability,“ explains Hasan Allak, chairman of Continental’s corporate works council. “Now it’s important for our employees to show a high degree of willingness to learn, and proactively and independently join in shaping their future.”

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Plant Construction, Engineering & Components

Double flange system
Motor Spindle Safety System

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The most common accidents involving the use of machine tools include spindle crashes. Common causes include programming errors, incorrectly defined tools, disregarded interference contours, or unintentional high-speed operation. The forces involved are so enormous that components of the motor spindle, ceramic spindle bearings, shafts, encoders, clamping system and the entire machine geometry can be affected or even completely destroyed.

A case study from RWTH Aachen shows that repair costs after a crash in the amount of five-digit euro amounts are not uncommon. Collision avoidance systems for machine tools minimize damage and reduce downtime and repair costs in the event of a collision. Nevertheless, only very few machine tools have a spindle collision protection at all. This is usually based on compression elements that act like a car bumper and are completely destroyed in the event of a crash. Although the spindle components remain intact, downtime still occurs.

The motor spindle protection system MS³ from Jakob Antriebstechnik detects collisions by means of several sensors and reports them electronically to the machine control. This can bring the feed axes of the machine tool to a halt with measures such as braking and reversing the drives. But beyond that, the motor spindle protection system can immediately interrupt the power flow at the interface between the spindle box and the motor spindle by means of 3D deflection in the event of a collision-induced overload, even before the electronic emergency stop, mechanically and energy-autonomously. This effective combination of mechanical protection system and active electronic sensor monitoring makes the system superior to purely electronic collision avoidance systems and effectively protects the shock-sensitive components of the motor spindle from the high force peaks of the collision. The resulting kinetic energy of the crash intercepts a built-in shock absorber. The difference is made by a double flange system with built-in permanent magnets.

They can guarantee the required high holding forces and rigidity. During the disengaging process, compression springs guide the motor spindle and then return it to its original position. The downtime is limited to the exchange of tools, additional external service is no longer needed. The system is energy self-sufficient, maintenance-free and adaptable to all common motor spindle geometries.

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