Best Practice Rosenbauer Int. AG
What’s begun will be finished
Source: LOGISTIK HEUTE 4/2017
Matthias Pieringer conducted the conversation.
Comparatively low quantities in specialized vehicle construction and a wide variety of variants – Christian Kleebauer, Area Manager for Central and Eastern Europe at the fire department outfitter Rosenbauer, reports on how employees, technology, and IT work together at the Leonding II plant so that lean management works.
LOGISTIK HEUTE: Rosenbauer started up the new plant Leonding II three years ago. This is where you produce the “AT” municipal firefighting vehicle and the “Panther” airport firefighting vehicle. How is it that with the construction of the new production location a radical re-thinking was required?
Christian Kleebauer: Despite a wide range of variants and – as compared to automobile or truck manufacturers – a low quantity, we have established a timed production line in the Leonding II plant. As a specialized vehicle manufacturer, we oriented assembly and production flows toward process-oriented production and occupied ourselves very intensively with lean management. Our Panther airport firefighting vehicle, for example, is made individually for each customer; originally, it was produced by one team using fixed station assembly. Today’s assembly in plant II includes four stations for the chassis and six stations for the platform. The vehicles and platforms are moved along automatically on rails from one station to the next. The material supply is handled according to the Kanban or pull principle.
Nearly every vehicle that leaves your production facility is unique. Why is that?
In specialized vehicle construction, we are subject to a very clear standards for the products. In Austria, for example, there are nine states and thus nine different guidelines for this type of vehicle. Each country, each region has its particular specifications for the design, which must all be fulfilled. Therefore, there are a lot of variants and differences in the details. This affects both the municipal firefighting vehicles and the airport firefighting vehicles. Precisely with the latter, the customer also incorporates his individual equipment requests into the bidding process.
What does the new production system mean for your supply chain management?
We needed to achieve improved, detailed clarification of order details at an earlier stage in order to be able schedule the order details in production so they could be planned.
How can the order details be clarified earlier?
An example is the loading of the vehicles. In the last production step, the vehicles are equipped with everything that they need in terms of equipment and tools. Does the customer want the hand tools in the right front of the vehicle or the left rear? We try to make these agreements with the customer in advance. For this, we use tools such as 3D designs and offer tours of comparable vehicles.
The corporate group produces on three continents, its suppliers are international.
What does Rosenbauer do in order to be supplied with parts in timely and secure fashion?
We can only work with suppliers who have the appropriate approvals for their products. From the point of view of volume, we are sooner one of the smaller customers. It is very important to maintain very close contact, especially with key suppliers, and to supply them with the best possible advance planning.
A central aspect of the ongoing process optimization was also the introduction of Wassermann’s “wayRTS” advanced planning and scheduling (APS) system in 2015. Why do you need such a software solution?
The SAFE project is synonymous with lean management at Rosenbauer. On the one hand, it affects the “hardware” like a new plant; on the other hand, the concern is naturally to establish the ways and methods of lean management. We very quickly realized that we needed a different form of planning and control for our processes in order to be able to use the entire system to the fullest extent. WayRTS is used for planning for the entire Leonding location, that is, also for plant I, and in 2017 it should be rolled out in other locations.
To what extent can you use standard software at all in specialized vehicle construction?
Our approach is to concentrate an ERP system very clearly on the central main processes. Everything that you need with respect to additional functionality should be mapped using selected expert systems.
With the introduction of the APS software, you also limited the number of people authorized to plan – why is that?
We had 200 people authorized to book or enter planning-relevant processes. Today, there are just 20 people who do this. In the workshop structure, the planning related primarily to the individual work areas, and it was then agreed upon by the supervisors. The result of this was that the individual area was certainly optimized, but the overall optimum was not always achieved.
What is the preliminary conclusion about the effects of the new planning approach?
We have noticed an inventory reduction of 15 to 20% since the introduction of the tool. And there is still room for further development. We also succeeded in increasing productivity, which of course was due to several factors. We were able to reduce the hours required for production of the Panther by about 40%, for municipal firefighting vehicles by about 20%.
Lean management, slim flows: How did you implement this in production?
I’ll be glad to give you an example: Today, we’re oriented according to the steps that must be performed in order to manufacture a component so that it is ready for installation in the final product. Our goal is to ensure that the components are steered directly from workplace to workplace – without buffering, without intermediate storage. Naturally this means that we must have a grip on all technologies required for such a process, so that no external steps are required. What’s begun will be finished.
Christian Kleebauer, Rosenbauer Int. AG
The new Leonding II plant required immense changes in production and supply chain management. How did you win the employees over for such a revolution?
Our employees have to make the change happen. You can’t talk about this enough and explain what it involves and why we’re doing it. For example, in the new structure based on lean management, the team spokespeople assume leadership responsibility and serve as catalysts. After our first successful experiences, we also noticed how employees’ readiness increased exponentially.
What steps is Rosenbauer taking toward Industrie 4.0 and digitalization, can you please give us some examples?
In the Leonding II plant, we introduced the “assembly cockpit.” This is the operative tool for the assembler, so that he can get information quickly and without any paper. On the display, he sees only the information that he needs for the order in question. Another example is the so-called Q-gates, the quality test benches. The specialist is lead through the order-specific test routine and receives additional instructions about what he must inspect visually – for example, whether blue or red flashing lights are installed. These are approaches that assist the employees and, from our point of view, provide the right access to Industrie 4.0.