Successful serial production in Germany
BOOSTER Precision Components is one of Germany’s innovation-driven production companies. Founded in 2004 in Schwanewede, Lower Saxony, it now produces more than 10 million compressor wheels and other complex components for the automotive industry every year.
The fact that a company can be a global player and manufacture mass-production parts Germany is relatively rare given the comparatively high wage levels. But in Schwanewede, northwest of Bremen, it‘s a normal part of life. The factory covering almost 8,500 square metres has been specifically designed for the production of complex components, in particular compressor wheels for turbochargers in large-scale series. At present, 350 employees are responsible for the productive operation of the state-of-the-art plant and machinery around the clock and 365 days a year
Alone in the turning machine section, 55 horizontal and vertical lathes are constantly in operation and reliably providing their services. Arranged into more complex turning cells and equipped with a robot, they are able to produce up to three different products at the same time. The milling shop contains around 80 modern milling centres, which are also fitted with a 6-axis robot. Especially for the compressor wheels, a further 15 fully automatic balancing cells are available to meet and ensure the high quality standards the cus-tomers require. A special feature of the company is that it also possesses 5-axis tool grinding machines so as to be able to produce high precision form cutters.
It‘s therefore no surprise that the interest in the subject of tool management and the contact with KROMI Logistik AG ini-tially arose mainly for logistic reasons. For executive partner Jonas Keune the specific question was whether he should expand his own purchasing department in the wake of the company‘s ongoing growth, or rely from the outset on a service model in a best-in-class partnership. In particular due to the high technological standards of the company‘s in-house production, a certain degree of scepticism was discernible among the company‘s employees towards the concept of a “vendor-managed inventory”. But since the company is generally subject to great cost pressure, a comparison was indeed worth making. Important arguments in the decision-making process were, of course, provided by the merits of KROMI services like the takeover of the tool warehouse, the automatic stock management and the adoption of full supply responsibility.
Within the pilot phase, the electronic tool catalogue was created and the first tool dispensers were installed to start with. For the purposes of an initial cost comparison, however, there are a number of factors that play a significant role in this particular stage of the transition. For instance, the takeover of the tool inventory by KROMI and the subsequent repurchase of the tools results in a one-off extra charge for the client that temporarily burdens the cost side. In return, however, the usual “idle inventories” or obsolete stocks that have been built up are removed from the warehouse shelves. In addition, the notional personnel expenses that would normally occur for maintaining a separate company pur-chasing department are elements that should not be ignored in any cost comparison or weighing up of the pros and cons.
As was expected, selected time studies also showed with regard to the optimisation of machining processes that the production experts from BOOSTER already possess highly sophisticated NC programmes and production processes. That‘s no wonder: if it were otherwise, the costs per part would certainly not be internationally competitive in the world market. For Jonas Keune, process opti-misation within the framework of the KROMI Engineering Service is not yet the final priority: “As soon as we‘ve converted and stabilised all the logistics processes so that availability and quality of supply are effectively optimised, we‘ll then concern ourselves with further savings. We know, of course, that we‘re already very well positioned. But when it comes to engineering, KROMI is a manufacturer-neutral provider that will definitely be
able to give us further valuable tips.”