NETZSCH Achieves a Milestone in Production

From a “Greenfield Site” to a New, State-of-the-Art Production Plant

It All Started in 2015

The ball got rolling for the planning of a new production site already several years ago. The order situation at NETZSCH Analyzing & Testing was very good; in turn, the lack of space in production was becoming impossible to ignore. Our philosophy was: If we need to expand anyway, then our goal should not just be to gain more space; we should also consider how to position ourselves better and more intelligently in order to produce more efficiently and economically. Financial support was secured from the NETZSCH shareholders and management for a project to restructure production and logistics. So the next question was: Where and how do we start optimizing the processes to which we were accustomed?

The Beginning of an Exciting Planning Phase

An extensive status analysis was carried out; all existing processes were examined and documented. Interfaces between the various departments were analyzed. In order to gather ideas and propositions, state-of-the-art companies in the mechanical engineering sector were visited. All of this took place with a view to the big question: What would our company look like if we were to build it on a “greenfield”?

Products Specifically Tailored to Our Customers’ Needs

As always, the focus of NETZSCH products is our customers’ needs. Our manufacturing emphasis is thus not on series or mass production. Rather, NETZSCH’s primary objective is to manufacture products exactly tailored to customer solutions. Each instrument delivered is individually configured in accordance with the customer’s needs.

This customer-oriented philosophy, of course, places certain demands. The new production and logistics concept was supposed to also bring about additional improvements. The aim was to design processes so that individual production all the way through series production would be as efficient as possible. There needed to be enough flexibility for individual orders as well as the ability to respond to order fluctuations.

Based on this strategy, a new production and logistics concept was developed implementing the requirement for instrument production in batch size one with efficient structures and processes.

Summer 2017: Relocation to the New Production Site

After a construction period of less than one year, the new, multistoried production site is complete and the warehouse and production have been successfully relocated. The new building interfaces directly with the old one. A “social area” with catering service forms the centerpiece between the new and old buildings. Coworkers can meet here in a relaxed atmosphere, spend their lunch or coffee break together or exchange views on professional or private matters.

From the social area in the direction of the atrium, you can look down on the column-free production hall, generously flooded with daylight. Around the atrium, the production-related departments such as Research & Development, Purchasing and Materials Planning are lined up. The Incoming Goods Department with the department for Quality Assurance along with the new warehouse and a state-of-the-art paternoster elevator are arranged in front of the new production hall. The open architecture, with large, glass-paneled offices spanning several floors, allows for transparent and efficient communication between the interdisciplinary departments.

Optimized Production Processes for State-of-the-Art Measurement Instruments

All production processes are geared toward optimum material flow. Assembly units are lined up next to each other, sensibly segmented according to function. The SAP-controlled storage lifts deliver the customer-specific orders to the manufacturing department with “goods-to-man” commissioning, completely and flawlessly. Employees in manufacturing can flexibly rotate between standard workplaces and production islands in the new production hall according to the order situation. Helpful tool boxes containing order-specific screws and special tools additionally facilitate and accelerate assembly. Manufacturing takes place in clean-room structures. A sophisticated air filter system keeps dirt particles from the outside away. The system ensures a steady temperature and air humidity. In order to guarantee a dust-free work environment, the goods are already unpacked in the warehouse and taken out of the cardboard box or packaging. This way, goods are kept clean and are stored or kept ready for assembly in accordance with quality requirements.

Optimum employment of staff and materials allows for quick processing of orders and guarantees prompt supply of state-of-the-art measurement instruments by NETZSCH to our customers.

What Else Needs to Be Done?

The new processes have been implemented. Our start in the new production site went almost unnoticed by our customers. Even during the turbulent relocation period, delivery capacity was always guaranteed. Now, all departments have to internalize the newly learned procedures and get accustomed to the new processes and standards. And – as is most often the case for such comprehensive projects – fine tuning and readjustment will be necessary so that everything runs smoothly over the long term.

Milestone Achieved

Our project team’s joy and relief is already palpable today. By building our new production site, a milestone in production was achieved. We are satisfied with the result, knowing well that additional steps will have to be taken on our way to Industry 4.0.