Process optimization at Grenzebach The digitalization of processes for efficient production plays a prominent role in Grenzebachʼs in-house control cabinet building center. Customer-specific solutions for an efficient assembly line process with integrated, digitally supported worker assistance system were developed and implemented together with Phoenix Contact.
Customer profile The Grenzebach Group
As a family-owned company with a global presence, Grenzebach has been supplying the international markets of the glass and construction materials industries as well as intralogistics with customized automation and digitalization solutions for over 60 years. The company was founded in 1960 and has its headquarters in Hamlar near Augsburg in Bavaria, Germany. In addition to Germany, it also has production sites in the USA, China, and Romania.
Initial situation and objective
Up until this point, skilled workers had assembled terminal strips directly in the control cabinet. This process involved long walking and reaching distances, as well as search and idle times. In addition, the assembly of the terminal strips was based on printed production documents.
The goal of the collaboration with Phoenix Contact was to design the process of terminal strip assembly to be more efficient and more ergonomic for the skilled workers.
In an initial project, the individual process steps for producing the terminal strips were recorded in a value stream analysis.
Cardboard engineering was then used to set up a prototype production line including software-supported worker assistance systems with a focus on ergonomic and rapid assembly. Based on this prototype, the workstation system with the worker assistance software for the creation of terminal strips was developed further in a close collaboration, which included the involvement of the employees themselves.
Working together as equals, there was always a constructive exchange of ideas from both sides about different approaches to solutions. This resulted in a solution for us that not only meets but actually exceeds our wishes in terms of efficiency and ergonomics.
Solution Results of process optimization
In the new optimized process flow, a project can now be started by the trained employee simply via mouse click. At the self-designed workstations, employees are supported efficiently in cutting the DIN rail to length, printing out the marking, and mounting the terminal blocks and markings. Particularly in assembly, the use of a pick-by-light system saves a significant amount of time in the picking process.
Worker assistance noticeably speeds up production processes, as the terminal strips can now be produced decoupled from the rest of the control cabinet.
Simplified process flow
The workstation solution that was developed, including the worker assistance software, provides quick and easy guidance through the entire terminal strip creation process.
Reduced production times
By centralizing the terminal block assembly process, the search, run, and idle times could also be significantly reduced.
The ergonomically optimized workstation eases the workload of employees in many ways, e.g., through short reaching distances.