Supply Chain Management – Industry 4.0

Toolbase Werkzeug-Ausgabe-System

Becker & Müller invests in Industry 4.0 and further develops its own supply chain management.

The carbide tool factory Andreas Maier GmbH (HAM) has existed for a good 50 years – founded in 1969. It all started with two colleagues, meanwhile there are 240 in the main factory in Schwendi-Hörenhausen south of Ulm and 450 employees worldwide. HAM Precision is well known in the industry and is represented and networked worldwide. The family-run company has built a reputation for precision tools and continues to develop the service. The processing machines should be supplied quickly and safely with the right and suitable tools for the product.

The “Toolbase” tool issuing systems of the TCM Group (Tool Consulting Management), which was developed by the company Achterberg, are used internationally. In the area of cabinet systems (software and hardware), Achterberg is the pioneer on the market. They were the first to organize the tool issue differently. The software programming is done in-house and Achterberg is still one of the leading providers of tool dispensing systems.

From this basic shelf, HAM Precision sells tools and the further developed software as a complete system. The printed circuit board industry is one of the industries that are supplied with tools by HAM Precision. The Becker & Müller Schaltungsdruck GmbH is a pioneer in the printed circuit board industry and the first company in Germany to integrate the “tool base” as a whole into in-house production processes and supply chain management. Becker & Müller is thus moving in the direction of Industry 4.0 and lean production.

No other company uses the system with greater complexity than the PCB prototype manufacturer. Xaver Müller, one of the managing directors of Becker & Müller, is certain: “We will support our circuit board customers even better with the complete use of “Toolbase”. The use of sensible innovations and constant investments in processes and technologies is our concept.”

“Toolbase” automates a large part of the processes in supply chain management and thus avoids errors and idle times. With a view to the express service from Becker & Müller and the associated promise of delivery reliability, this is an important point for the supplier and also its customers. The system is used, for example, in combination with the DRB 610 1+1 precision drilling system from Lenz. The tools are selected and used according to the product. And the storage compartment management goes beyond the drilling tools, so rental tools and their expiry dates, special tools with graphics and documents or measuring devices and their calibration are also managed automatically.

If there is a risk of a material or tool becoming scarce in the warehouse, the system automatically reorders from the manufacturer and thus always has the right tool at hand. At the prototype manufacturer, the data goes directly into the ERP system, which forwards a digital data record in the agreed protocol. The system options, ID and ports are configurable and allow direct FTP communication with the server at HAM.

It is extremely easy for employees to operate the system. The system automatically recognizes extended system components – it’s basically plug and play. The employees log on to the system with a specially configured chip and can make their settings using the touchscreen. The selection of over 20 languages ensures that the system can be used internationally.

With a consistent look and during the analysis process, Xaver Müller also saw other areas of application for the system. “Due to the growing requirements, it was an opportunity to adapt the previous systems for circuit board production.” The investment volume for the system at Becker & Müller was around 20,000 euros. A sensible step that, as practical experience has already shown, will pay off.

The delivery times for printed circuit boards, especially for prototypes, are becoming ever shorter. The system had to be more flexible, safer and faster. Ties Müller, Head of Sales and Application Technology at HAM Präzision: “With the new system, we support industry in its processes and are also one step closer to Industry 4.0.”

The system’s software was expanded for circuit board production. The software was intensively further developed in cooperation with Achterberg, i.e. adapted to the current needs of other industries.” Ties Müller is behind the new system, the prototype of which was presented two years ago at an in-house exhibition in Switzerland. In Germany, it was presented “with query machine to tool” at the last Productronica and has now been comprehensively installed at Becker & Müller for the first time in Germany.

With this investment, Becker & Müller has once again demonstrated that it has an eye on the future of the industry. Becker & Müller wants to be at the forefront in terms of flexibility and quality – and they did it again. Anyone who is reluctant to invest should know that the “Toolbase” from Achterberg can also be used with third-party tools. The flexibility of your own production, regardless of the industry, is retained.