When accuracy and precision lead to PRODUCTIVITY
When accuracy and precision lead to quality products thanks to excellent internal quality assurance processes, we want to share the success story! Vorwerk, best known for their Kobold and Thermomix brands, is just that story. Especially because they wanted to implement their own measuring processes as much as possible themselves, in their own new metrology lab.
Measuring internally makes us more flexible and gives us advantages when developing new products,” says Martin Przibilla, Head of Quality at Vorwerk’s Wuppertal plant. The family-owned company are best known for their Kobold brand vacuum cleaners and attachments as well as their Thermomix kitchen appliances. The company has a global network of plants in Wuppertal, Cloyes-les-Trois-Rivières, France and Shanghai, China, production is carried out according to fixed specifications and strict quality standards across the board. “All plants are independent, but there is a close exchange – especially in quality assurance,” explains Przibilla. The quality assurance department in Wuppertal also performs measuring tasks for the Thermomix plant in France as an internal service provider.
RAMPING UP THE METROLOGY LAB
The quality assurance department at the Wuppertal plant consists of three teams: quality planning, which starts early in the development of projects; quality assurance for series production; and the measuring room with five employees. Przibilla has headed the department since 2016, and then in 2019 the metrology lab was added to the department too. “It struck me at the time that we had a lot of unused potential in the measuring room,” he recalls. “We have tremendous expertise within our measurement technology staff. At the time, the measuring room supported the development area to some extent, and it also performed some measurements during series production. But the bottom line was that the coordinate measuring machines had too much idle time, which was partly because they were not optimized. Creating the measurement programs ran in software that was outdated and took an awful long time because every single movement of the coordinate measuring machine had to be written in source code.”
METROLOGY SYSTEMS TO ENSURE OPTIMAL PRODUCTIVITY FOR THE NEW PROJECT
During the development of the new VK7 wireless cleaning system the company’s end goal leaned heavily on the success of the metrology requirements: to increase the number of plastic parts produced with injection molding in Wuppertal by 10, for optimal productivity! “This was the motivation to raise the bar of the measuring room, so that we can measure much more internally than in the past. Most importantly we wanted to increase internal ability and vertical integration,” says Przibilla.
Klostermann GmbH has been their measuring service provider for over 15 years and was the perfect partner to help them put their plan to work. Klostermann has also created measuring programs for Vorwerk; including clamping systems from Witte.
Klostermann recommended that Vorwerk replace the existing coordinate measuring machines with an LH 87 gantry measuring machine from WENZEL. Klostermann: “In the high-end sector, the hardware of coordinate measuring machines does not differ significantly from one another. What makes the difference today is the measuring software – and with WM | Quartis, the measuring software from WENZEL is very easy to use,” explains Christian Klostermann, Managing Director of the family-owned company based in Remscheid. When it comes to Przibilla, he was preaching to the choir: “We had an ultra-high-precision coordinate measuring machine. We could use it to measure gauges, but we don’t need that. It doesn’t depend on the micrometer for our measuring tasks; we mainly measure in the hundredths of a millimeter range.”
TODAY, MEASUREMENT PROGRAMS ARE CREATED WITH A FEW CLICKS
The difference to the measuring software of the existing coordinate measuring machines became apparent right after Vorwerk put the first LH 87 from WENZEL into operation. “Thanks to the WM Quartis software, WENZEL’s coordinate measuring machines can be operated very easily and intuitively, which has really proven its worth. Today we don’t have to type in source code, we just click buttons. We can probe points directly on the CAD model. We benefit from this not only when creating measuring programs, but also in our daily work,” says Przibilla.
For example, Vorwerk now uses the new coordinate measuring machines to measure components for Kobold and Thermomix against the CAD model. This also enables the company to evaluate freeform surfaces. Fast and easy alignment against CAD data is made possible by the Reference Point System (RPS), which WM Quartis supports. “Data set-based probing of elements is also much faster today, of course,” says Przibilla.
CYCLE TIME INCREASE THANKS TO THE RIGHT METROLOGY SOLUTIONS
He can precisely quantify the benefits: “Under WM Quartis, my employees can now create measurement programs much faster – in 20 percent of the time it used to take them. As a result, we were able to program all the measuring programs for the components of the new VK7 ourselves. This saves time in the creation of measuring programs, but also costs – around 40 percent. The bottom line is that it has made us much more flexible.”
Przibilla also received this positive feedback back from colleagues during the development of the new Kobold VK7 vacuum cleaner, which was launched on the German market in October 2022: “Those responsible for the project praised us for providing the measurement data quicker and also for being more meaningful than before because we can display the measurement reports clearer with WM Quartis – in direct comparison with the CAD data. This means that project staff can see immediately where there are dimensional deviations in form and position tolerances, for example, based on the colored display.”
COORDINATE MEASURING MACHINES WITH PROBE SYSTEM FROM RENISHAW
Vorwerk now has three WENZEL coordinate measuring machines in operation in the measuring room.
Thanks to Vorwerk Groups successful sales, demand has increased, and the measuring room has obtained these machines in less than 2 years. All machines are equipped with Renishaw’s PH10M/SP25M probe system for 2D and 3D scanning. Compared to the previous solution, this probe head can tilt and enables probing from the side. The SP25 is known for high scanning speeds and high point rates.
“Of course, we could also use optical sensors and multisensory technology on the WENZEL measuring machines, but for us, tactile and optical measuring technology continue to be two different worlds with their own strengths and weaknesses,” says Przibilla.
THE IMPORTANCE OF SUCCESSFUL PARTNERSHIPS
He sees further advantages in Vorwerk now more easily exchange measuring programs with Klostermann, especially outsourcing measuring tasks to them during peak times. Klostermann also measures the components on an LH 87, allowing both companies to access a database and even exchange fixtures. “In the end, it was this overall package from Klostermann that convinced our management to make the new investment. The new coordinate measuring machines make us much more flexible – and Klostermann can cushion order peaks for us even better.”
“Of course, the development at Vorwerk is bittersweet for us,” says Klostermann. “On the one hand, we are now no longer commissioned by Vorwerk with as many contract measurement services as in the past. But on the other hand, with WENZEL’s coordinate measuring machines, we have helped Vorwerk to deepen their value chain and become more flexible. And these strategic advantages for the customer outweigh the disadvantages at the end of the day.” Przibilla adds,
Measurements during series production to safeguard manufacturing processes are also easier today with the CMM machines, since the measurement data can be compared with the CAD data records.
Something else that shows that the partnership with Klostermann works well: Is that Vorwerk created 35 of the 40 new measuring programs for the WENZEL machines itself, while Klostermann took over the rest. “The exchange of measuring programs and resources from employees with Klostermann works extremely well,” Przibilla emphasizes. Service and support for the coordinate measuring machines have also improved significantly for Vorwerk: this concerns the further development of the measuring software, but also the service provided by Klostermann. “The machine projects also include so-called consulting days at Vorwerk, which make it easy for the customer to access our support and knowledge within a short response time,” says Klostermann.
Klostermann gave the tip for the clamping systems from Witte.
“Overall, the advice from Klostermann is very valuable to us,” says Przibilla. They worked together to develop and replace the clamping fixtures that had been done in the past with Witte’s modular clamping systems. “Although the investment was costly, it paid off quickly thanks to the retooling options, i.e., the reuse of system components from fixtures that are no longer needed, starting with the second project,” Przibilla is pleased to report. Klostermann has also trained employees from Przibilla’s department on the new WENZEL machines.
INTEGRATING MEASURING DURING DEVELOPMENT AND PRODUCTION
“In the future, we want to make the work within the department even more flexible, so that the boundaries between measurements during development and during mass production are even further integrated. This will further increase efficiency in quality assurance,” says Przibilla. Further tasks are already in sight for his team: Vorwerk will invest in the construction of an additional Thermomix production facility in France to meet the rapidly growing demand for Thermomix.
MORE ABOUT VORWERK
Vorwerk is a family-owned company founded in 1883. In addition to Thermomix kitchen machines and Kobold vacuum cleaners, the company includes Neato Robotics and AKF Bank. Vorwerk operates in more than 60 countries and generated consolidated sales of 3.3 billion euros in 2021. The Thermomix Division’s sales amounted to 1.7 billion euros in 2021, the year of its 50th anniversary. The Group’s largest production site is Wuppertal, Germany, with more than 1,000 employees.