What were the challenges to be solved and what specific benefits were achieved?
As a medium-sized company, the primary challenge faced by ACD Elektronik GmbH was R&D and the marketing budget associated with the introduction of Industry 4.0 measures. Under the buzzwords “Smart Products & Smart Processes”, the objective was to summarise Industry 4.0 measures and to anchor them in the business operation.
Through anchorage in the corporate strategy as well as continuous improvement, our approach is holistic and leads to successful products and processes, even without a budget of a large corporation. The ACD approach includes product developments as well as internal process optimisations. The majority of the components and solutions from Industry 4.0 are also used in-house at ACD to optimise processes. Consequently, a continuous test run as well as the collected findings represent major benefits when compared to conventional systems. Thanks to the in-house development and production, ACD can also collect empirical values due to utilisation by customers and partners and, as a result, is always able to independently accelerate and directly control the optimisation.
“Digitalisation and data networking have always been a major part of our industrial knowledge. As part of Industry 4.0, we are now also able to successfully use our traditional strengths in further product sectors”, explains ACD Managing Director, Andreas Zwißler.
How can the Industrie 4.0 approach be described?
Industry 4.0 is strongly associated with the buzzwords “Smart Products & Smart Processes” at ACD and concerns product developments as well as process optimisations that will be described in greater detail below together with examples. The approach here is a holistic one.
The most important criterion for the ACD smart products is network capability. The ACD product range contains some products that make a contribution towards Industry 4.0 thanks to their mobility and network capability. Examples include fleet management, Imagis mobile wound documentation, RFID recordings, device finder, sensor technology and big data.
The entire field of electronic and device production has been significantly optimised and streamlined at ACD under the aspect of “Digitalisation of processes, machinery and factory environment” in recent years. Some of the “smart processes” are illustrated by the following examples: Pick by Voice in the ACD warehouse, paperless productions.
What could be achieved?
The various approaches, both in-house and in the field of product development, allow ACD to optimise business processes in the Production Department as well as the entire product flow and to make them more efficient with the aid of digitalised processes. Of course, the associated needs and requirements of the customers can also be met, especially in terms of the developed smart products. The developed solutions also contribute to increasing efficiency in the respective business processes.
What measures have been taken to achieve the solution?
Concrete measures used to accelerate the development of smart products included the consistent increase of the teams in the in-house Development Departments on both the hardware and software side. Furthermore, great investment has been made in the internal and external advanced training of employees. Customer opinions and requirements are also consistently integrated into the individual development steps. Empirical values can be introduced to follow-up developments and product optimisations due to the fact that the products developed in-house are used at ACD (to some extent). Therefore, ACD products are practically always being tested.
The growth experienced in recent years have meant that the production facilities have also increased in size. As part of this growth, no opportunity to further optimise the in-house processes was missed during the “relocations” and spatial reorganisation. Concrete innovative projects were triggered in order to achieve this.
What can others learn from it?
A particular success factor is surely the fact that it is possible to achieve a great deal when implementing Industry 4.0, even with a small budget. It is not always necessary to make large investments in order to optimise and increase efficiency. However, it is important that digitalisation is firmly rooted in the minds of the employees and that everybody is working towards the same objective. Furthermore, it is always a massive advantage if in-house products and solutions are used in the company itself.