A company whose slogan is “Standard for Clean Air” and who thus places the highest demands on their own products, who counts among the industry leaders with numerous awards for innovative solutions, is a company who also sets a high bar for its internal processes and their constant optimization. As part of its production, Keller Lufttechnik from southwest Germany relies on an end-to-end sheet metal process chain realized by SPI SheetMetal Solutions.
Dirty air comes in, hits a filter element, the dirt falls into a container for disposal, and clean air is supplied to the environment. It may sound banal at first. But the example of fine dust pollution in our cities illustrates the complexity of the issue: the contaminated air must be meticulously captured, transported to the filter in an energy-efficient manner, and cleaned. Collecting dirt in containers while the constantly added contaminated air creates turbulence, is a further challenge.
Keller Lufttechnik is still working on the fine dust problem in cities. For air pollution due to industrial machining, however, solutions are available for almost everything. Their product range covers a wide spectrum of processes: dry separation, wet scrubbing, coolant and oil mist separation, and electrostatic separation. The company, which today operates internationally, was founded in Stuttgart, Germany in 1903 and located to its current location in the nearby Kirchheim unter Teck in 1948. In 1977, 1998, and 2011 subsidiaries were established in Switzerland, the USA, and China. The global company remains family-owned and is currently managed by brothers Frank and Horst Keller.
Since 2008, Keller uses Solidworksfor design and construction. The sheet metal flat patterns created with Solidworks had to be revised and then corresponding machine programs had to be written for control during manufacturing. Insofar feasible. However, data consistency within the process was non-existent. In 2009, Keller met SPI at the BlechExpo trade fair in Stuttgart and soon thereafter the first license of the SPI sheet metal unfolding software was installed. Eventually, the two companies decided to create a joint implementation concept for a large scale solution. Today, 21 SPI software licenses are used throughout Keller Lufttechnik.
The Head of Design, René Schwenger sums up the defined objective: “Our systems are individually manufactured for our customers. Changes in ongoing projects must be implemented reliably. In addition, products must meet the customer requirements accurately and repeatably, down to the smallest detail. Our goal was to seamlessly integrate the design and the production processes and to further improve the quality of the components.”
Here the IT experts from SPI proved themselves not only as solution providers but also as accompanying process consultants. Keller Lufttechnik was convinced by the concept: the responsibility of design was entrusted to the SPI SheetMetal software. Thus, the relevant manufacturing conditions are already taken into account during the design phase. For laser cutting, Keller relies on machines from Ditzingen and the simple use of the SPI interface for their control convinced them right from the start. The bending is carried out with an LVD press brake. The CADMAN-B software that is used for its programming reads in the GEO data supplied by the SPI software.
The project continues…
All the requirements defined by Keller have not been implemented yet. “But we are working on it,” confirms SPI Key Account Manger Mathias Schöwe. “Ultimately, as a software house with over 35 years of industry experience, we specialize in solving such tasks.”
Two important milestones that have already been achieved are the minimization of errors and considerable reduction of turnaround times. The effort involved in technical data processing has been reduced by around 60-70%. “SPI provides us with intelligent GEO data, the basis for digitizing the processes. The 2D drawing as an information carrier, and the misinterpretations associated with it, has been dispensed with.”
Once we tackle the remaining challenges, my vision will have been fulfilled: an integrated process chain from the first design draft to unfolding and manufacturing with Solidworks and SPI. The provision of a manufacturable flat pattern with all necessary process information, speedy derivation of machine programs on the basis of the same data, as well as smooth final manufacturing. I have absolute confidence in our North German professionals, who have accompanied us for years as a process consultant in this project. In hindsight, I would choose the SPI solution again, just earlier.
What was the challenge?
The sheet metal flat patterns had to be revised and corresponding machine programs had to be written for control during manufacturing. Data consistency within the process was non-existent. Our goal was to seamlessly integrate the design and the production processes and to further improve the quality of our products.
What have you gained?
Intermediate goals that have already been achieved are the minimization of errors The effort involved in technical data processing has been reduced by around 60-70%.
In a nutshell: the main advantage?
Efficiency: the effort involved in technical data processing has been reduced by around 60-70%.
What would you like others to know?
I have absolute confidence in our North German professionals, who have accompanied us for years as a process consultant in this project. In hindsight, I would choose the SPI solution again, just earlier.
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