Tools and partnership with long-term quality
After thorough testing, SFB Group has been relying on Arno Werkzeuge for parting off for yearsOstfildern, )
"The beginning of our cooperation in 2014 was quite exhausting. We had to demonstrate a lot of competence, flexibility and stamina", Peter Jehle recalls. The 54-year-old trained toolmaker is a technical advisor at Arno Werkzeuge. "At the time, we wanted to optimise our parting-off processes in production and Arno promised us improvements that we wanted to have proven", says purchasing manager Ralf Wessel at SFB Group in Babenhausen. "Mainly because we always want to use one system for all machines".
Five test months later, with intensive on-site support and a number of quickly implemented tool adaptations, Arno Werkzeuge was set at SFB and its manufacturing subsidiary amo-tec in neighbouring Erkheim. Today, another eight years later, the SA part-off systems with patented internal coolant supply confirm every day that SFB made the right decision back then. They are still characterised by a long tool life, optimum chip breaking geometry and safe chip evacuation as well as low-vibration operation and good surfaces. Nevertheless, such a long period of time is remarkable in fast-moving times.
Complex and multi-variant parts and assemblies require reliable processes and partners
SFB Group Managing Director Bruno Hanselka explains why long-term partnerships are important to him: "Our valve technology and complex hydraulic components form the basis for the intelligent and innovative solutions that SFB has been developing and manufacturing for fluid technology for years. Reliable and fast-reacting partners with an understanding of the process are more important to us than a cent to the second decimal place". The family-owned company from the Allgäu region has been one of the leaders for complex precision parts and valves in the field of fluid technology for over 80 years. With around 700 employees at four locations in Germany and Poland, the manufacturing experts offer solutions from a single source as an experienced and reliable partner for long-standing industrial customers worldwide.
Highly complex hydraulic components, hydraulic and pneumatic valves as well as high-quality CNC precision turned and milled parts for demanding industries are produced in great depth of production. Renowned customers come from the aerospace, medical technology and commercial vehicle sectors as well as the agricultural machinery and automotive sectors. The batch sizes to be produced comprise quantities between 500 and 500,000 units. "Our range of variants is very extensive", says the managing director and emphasises: "One product can even have 1400 variants. This then requires great flexibility in manufacturing".
A pool of experience and knowledge benefits customers
"So it then also makes sense why a system like our SA part-off system has to fit on all machines and for all materials and products", explains Jehle. "After all, our tools should not add to the complexity". And so SA part-off systems with monobloc basic holders, holders for sliding headstock automatic lathes, NC modules and grooving blades with five different cutting inserts with grooving widths from 1.5 to 10 mm are used. The SFB and amo-tec employees thus process the usual steels as well as case-hardened and highly tempered nitriding steels, stainless steels, non-ferrous metals and extruded, sintered and forged blanks. However, it is not only the grooving tools that have made the business relationship so deep and trusting.
Because Arno Werkzeuge is always close to the customer and deeply involved in the processes with its many own technical field consultants and application engineers, customers often benefit from more than just good products. "The experience and process know-how of the Arno people has already impressed us a great deal. There are also one or two practical tips that testify to a deep understanding of our work", Wessel emphasises. Jehle confirms and explains it like this: "Because all our colleagues are always on site and involved in the processes, we have been building up a lot of experience for years. This is incorporated in regular exchange into our knowledge pool, which in turn all advisors can draw from for the benefit of our clients".
In addition, all Arno advisors also look beyond their own area of expertise. And so Jehle is able to help out again in 2017 when Wessel approaches him about a tool management system, because SFB would like to solve tool dispensing and
management in a more modern and space-saving way. Jehle's colleague Simon Lang, as the product manager for tool management systems at Arno Werkzeuge, is able to present the StoreManager tool management systems and their advantages and quickly convince those responsible at SFB and amo-tec.
The advantages of the StoreManager can quickly convince those responsible
For a pilot project, SFB receives a StoreManager Pro Master plus extension module as well as a StoreManager Duo Master including Workstation Master in the same year. "We first wanted to convince ourselves of the performance and reliability of the systems in practical operation", says Wessel. This is because the need for tool management was much higher for the more than 200 machines in the SFB Group's manufacturing network. Wessel confirms that this was achieved quickly: With the StoreManagers, we have more space in the hall right from the start, more storage space for the tools and more time for production". And production at the SFB Group runs in three shifts on six weekdays.
Depending on the configuration, the carousel system on the StoreManagerPro contains up to 2,160 storage places on shelves containing 1, 2, 3 or 4 compartments for controlled access, single removal and return. The software manages removal and return efficiently, reliably and smoothly. It also monitors stock levels and prepares documents for restocking.
Tools for more than 200 machines are available around the clock at SFB today
Today, the tools are available around the clock at SFB and amo-tec. Gone are the days when tools had to be cumbersomely counted and entered into Excel spreadsheets at the end of the day. Today, the software records this automatically, completely and without gaps. There are practically no more stockouts, because each tool is clearly assigned to a person and an order. “This creates obligations and traceability but also strengthens every employee’s sense of responsibility for the part which is removed”, assures Lang.
Already in 2019 and 2020, three more StoreMaster Pros - one Master and two extensions - will find their way to the Allgäu. And just another year later, a Pro Master model, two extensions and an extension module of a StoreManager Start are in use. And so the tools for the more than 200 machines are prepared for each order using a set-up sheet. They are then supplied job-related to the machine on a trolley. "There are practically no moremix-ups when it comes to tool selection", assures Simon Lang. “The StoreManager finds the right tool based on the scanned codes on the job data sheet and releases the related compartment by light signal. The hatch door then opens for the operator to remove the tool. On return, the system also finds a suitable empty cabinet compartment."
Users are not system-dependent, but can choose tools freely
Of course, it is not only Arno Werkzeuge's grooving and parting-off tools that are managed by the tool management systems. For Simon Lang, this is not a problem, "because our StoreManager is "integration-friendly" and also manages tools from other manufacturers safely and reliably. This convinces users on a regular basis, because they don't get into system dependency, but rather can always choose the most suitable tool in terms of productivity".
Company information about the SFB Group
Precise complete solutions for fluid technology
Founded in 1941 as the Ottobeuren screw and form turning shop, the SFB Group is one of the leading companies for complex precision parts and valves in the field of fluid technology. With over 700 employees at four locations in Germany and Poland, the family-owned company is an experienced and reliable partner for one-stop solutions for long-standing industrial customers worldwide. The development and manufacturing experts offer highly complex hydraulic components, hydraulic and pneumatic valves as well as high-quality CNC precision turned and milled parts for demanding industries in great depth of production. Renowned customers come from the aerospace, medical technology and commercial vehicle sectors as well as the agricultural machinery and automotive sectors. At SFB, the batch sizes to be produced comprise quantities between 500 and 500,000 units.