SMP Schüssler is fully committed to digitalisation. With the installation of the innovative software Connected Manufacturing from the Hoffmann Group, the specialist in the field of sand-cast aluminium prototypes has taken a giant step in this direction. But this is only the beginning of their revolutionary, future-oriented restructuring process! Digital tools are a perfect means of achieving increased productivity, simplified procedures, and a better overview of tool management. For this purpose, the Hoffmann Group has developed the innovative software "Connected Manufacturing". It ensures maximum transparency during work preparation, increases efficiency both during assembly and measurement, and saves time and costs during production. In addition, the software can be implemented quickly and convinces users with its ease of operation.
These advantages ultimately convinced company SMP Schüssler Modell- und Prototypenbau, a specialist in the production of prototypes made of plastic and metal. The decisive factor for going the digital route via "Connected Manufacturing" was certainly also the good cooperation between the two companies, which has grown over the years. SMP already uses numerous tools and arbors purchased from the Hoffmann Group, communication with sales and service is excellent and the price/performance ratio is well balanced. In addition, according to SMP project manager Marcus Feige, "there was the great opportunity to grow with a software that is being developed, without being overwhelmed by a complete, ready-made system. At the same time, we saw an opportunity to actively get involved in the development of a promising new product."
The company has been using Connected Manufacturing for some time now. SMP identified tool management as the largest and most important beneficiary to date. It is, according to Marcus Feige, "clearer and more structured. We now have one central system for tool numbers and systematic tool names. There is a specific reference to which components make up the tool assemblies, which is fantastic." The SMP project manager thinks that both the mapping of the infrastructure and the order and the clear overview of each tool’s location are "very good". Of course, when the digital Hoffmann tool was initially introduced, some time was needed for training. Data had to be transferred to the machines and some production processes had to be adjusted. But overall, the installation process was well structured and went smoothly. Here too, Marcus Feige is full of praise: "The Hoffmann Group always tried to find solutions to best suit our requirements. The cooperation was excellent, and they always provided support when we were faced with a problem." For instance, when the path structure for the milling machines was not working properly – it just took a phone call to solve the problem.
Connected Manufacturing is an important part of the company's transition to the future of Industry 4.0. We are making comprehensive changes in all areas. Change is a key topic for us, and our employees support this, too. Standardisation ensures inventory optimisation, faster access, better availability and thus more output. It gives us a competitive advantage (keyword “New Work” - access to all data, even from the home office...). Connected Manufacturing is also an important component of corporate development. The change will never be complete, systems will have to be expanded, developments will continue.
SMP Schüssler is very enthusiastic about Connected Manufacturing. For the company, the software is only the beginning of a whole series of digitalisation measures. For instance, a robot cell is to be used in the near future. This will allow the machines to be loaded automatically and process production orders. The interaction of jobs, tools, resources, storage positions, robot movements and NC programs needs to be networked. The Connected Manufacturing system with its tool management via RFID chip plays a central role in our plans for the future." In principle, SMP hopes that the innovative digital tool from the Hoffmann Group will provide both a time and a cost advantage. Tool costs are dramatically reduced through the cloud-based management. In addition, there is a significant time saving when assembling complete tools, as there is no need to cover long distances for "tool searches". Last but not least, Marcus Feige is confident that Connected Manufacturing has enormous potential for the future: "I believe that this software can make digitalisation more accessible for small and medium-sized companies, too, and will even be used at production level."
Founded in Dresden in June 2003, SMP Schüssler initially focused on the design and manufacture of plastic prototypes. The company expanded into metalworking in 2008, when they moved to new, larger premises in Heidenau. This was followed by the acquisition of further 5-axis milling machines and more machine tools. In 2013, another factory building was completed with an expanded sand casting department and the quality assurance department with X-ray equipment, 3D measuring arm and spectrometer. These investments have enabled company Schüssler to become more and more independent of external service providers for the production of prototypes. Digitalisation is currently at the top of the agenda. In addition to the implementation of Hoffmann's "Connected Manufacturing", a robot-assisted production cell is currently being tested. For more information, visit www.smp-prototypen.de