Start Where the Leverage is the Greatest

Andreas Blättler
Engineering Consultant, Bossard Switzerland

All companies want to manufacture their products faster, better and more cost-effectively. In order to recognize the potential of lean management, an outside perspective is often useful. Such was the case at an electrical engineering company I recently consulted for. Although the company has its own R&D department, it is small and the staff is busy with day-to-day business. I know from my own experience as a design engineer that in-house there is a real risk of blind spots. You sometimes need an objective set of eyes to identify more radical, fundamental optimization opportunities.

It made sense that this company asked Bossard for support because we have supplied them with fastening elements for many years. We have also successfully implemented our Bossard Inventory Management system for them. We were now tasked with helping them with their product development under the aspect of design-to-cost, which is to develop a new and more cost-effective design for their floor service boxes.

For such projects, which we call Bossard Next Generation, the optimization potential for customers is particularly significant because the leverage is the greatest. There are two requirements for a successful Next Generation project: First, an interdisciplinary approach must be taken where all the important players work together.

For the development of the floor service boxes, for example, it was important to incorporate the third-party sheet metal supplier. As an external consultant, I constantly have to be aware that I’m working on somebody else’s turf. For this reason, a second important requirement in Next Generation projects: the commitment of senior management to drive change.
As with all Bossard Next Generation projects, using the value-stream analysis methodology, I start with the existing production processes. Walking through the production halls, I gained an overall understanding of the operations from receiving to shipping. In fact, I always begin at the end: with shipping. In other words, I go backwards to understand the customer’s perspective. I also talked to the workers on the production line, with the people who assemble the product. We analyzed my findings, identified optimization potential, validated the results and then presented them to the customer.

Our proposed Next Generation solution for the floor service boxes calls for far fewer screws – that alone will enable the customer to lower manufacturing costs by approximately 42 %. By reducing the number of individual parts from 23 to 16, throughput is accelerated and, as a result, the customer stands to gain 20 % in productivity.

March 21, 2014
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Smart Fastening Solutions and the Luxury Sports Car

Rolf Ammann
Technical Consultant, Bossard Germany

The latest model from Porsche is the Porsche 918 Spyder. Featuring almost 900 hp, it accelerates to 124 mph in 7.7 seconds and can reach a top speed of 214 mph. The Porsche 918 Spyder’s impressive numbers don’t stop there. Thanks to a hybrid drive and lightweight carbon construction, this breakthrough in engineering uses less than a gallon of fuel for every 62 miles!

Especially with high-tech projects, the overall productivity of the manufacturer depends greatly on how efficiently the company organizes its production processes. But that’s not all. One other factor is the productivity of upstream product development – and how quickly ideal solutions are found for problems that arise. This, of course, means that suppliers and partners have to be on the same page with the manufacturer and actively contribute their expertise during the product development phase. For challenging questions around the fastening technology, Bossard is such a partner for the sports car manufacturer Porsche.

For example, about a year and half ago the R&D department at Porsche contacted us as part of a secret project. The engineers were looking for fastening solutions for an entirely new vehicle, which would be built largely with carbon components. Carbon is a very interesting material for automobile construction. It is very light but also very strong. Less weight means lower fuel consumption. However, carbon components are a hard nut to crack from the perspective of fastening technology. Carbon cannot be drilled, because drilling destroys the structure thus weakening the material. For this reason, conventional fastening elements such as rivets, threaded inserts or press-in bolts cannot be used.

Because the project was top secret, we only received the most essential information. However, that was enough for our developers to propose the ideal solution for Porsche’s problem: bigHead components. As the name indicates, these nuts, bolts and sleeves have a large head, which enables the fastening components to be glued or laminated. This provided us with fixed screw locations which, compared to standard connections, would not break away or tear out and are quick and easy to attach. For Porsche, it was also important that the lightweight carbon chassis remain structurally sound despite some 30 to 50 connection zones in order to fully exploit its structural strength.

I believe we can say with a great deal of pride that Bossard, has played a major role in ensuring that Porsche is at the head of the pack when it comes to fastening technology.

March 21, 2014
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How Bossard is Helping Us Become and Stay Lean

Nihad Zaugg
Buyer, Signal AG, Switzerland

I have used Bossard screws since my apprenticeship as a polymechanic, or “toolmaker” as it used to be called. You constantly need screws, regardless of the type. You simply cannot do without these fastening elements. Even after nearly ten years in purchasing, I still deal with these products. I am responsible for purchasing the wide range of fastening elements we use to install our signaling systems such as traffic signs and traffic lights, or signal systems used in tunnel safety.

Until a few years ago, our warehouse logistics system was analog and manual. Only the most frequently used parts had a barcode that could be scanned when needed. I was still sending out faxes to place some weekly batch orders. That was time-consuming and unproductive work. So I decided there had to be a better, more efficient way. And I knew how to go about it.

In 2011, I contacted the Bossard salesperson assigned to our company because I wanted to introduce the SmartBin system at Signal AG. I quickly realized that an automated procurement process is the solution I had been looking for. Instead of counting screws by barcode and faxing in orders, weight sensors indicate when the minimum stock has been reached and automatically trigger a new order. This frees up our employees to focus on more interesting activities involving our products and clients.

I have now automated the ordering process for 271 products using Bossard’s SmartBin. Every two weeks, an employee from Bossard comes by to restock the bins and check the system. Every six months, we optimize the system, correct the refil- ling parameters and adapt the product portfolio. SmartBin is a dynamic system. Our investment includes initial configuration, shelves and boxes – these are on-time expenses. We calculated that with SmartBin we save more than 1800 hours a year – time that we can use to create added value for our clients. This is a win-win situation for all involved. And it provides me with the confidence of knowing that I’m on the right track.

March 21, 2014
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Expertise for Coming Generations

Hans Ryser
Chairman, Heating System Managers Forum (Heizwerkführer Forum), Switzerland

If I were on that popular TV quiz show where people have to guess other others’ professions, I would have stumped a lot of people. I was a heating plant manager and plant mechanic for a food pro- ducts company all the way up until my retirement. I have been Chairman of the Heating Plant Manager Forum since it was organized in 1999 as an association for best practice sharing and continuing education. Heating plant managers are in charge of ensuring smooth operation of steam and hot water systems at waste heat plants and industrial firms. They run the systems, monitor processes and oversee quality.

Industrial Thermal Engineering (IWT) heating plant managers are also responsible for plant maintenance and perform servicing. Being knowledgeable about the many aspects of joining and fastening technology is a key competency. Pipelines can be laid in such Byzantine fashion that sometimes there is hardly any space to properly tighten a screw, almost like on a submarine. That is why we arranged a group visit to Bossard AG.

Bossard‘s Director of Application Engineering took us on a fascinating journey through the world of fastening. He explained to our group the meaning of the various designations appearing on screws, the forces applied to them, how to properly tighten them using a torque wrench and how to ensure proper lubrication, even during maintenance. The most striking part though was his comments on why it is so important to always use the right screw at the right place.

After his expert presentation we from the Heating Plant Managers Forum agreed that a “fastening seminar” like that should really be mandatory as part of heating plant manager training. One big reason why, is that heating plant managers are not only responsible for trouble-free operation of heating plants, but also bear tremendous responsibility for the safety and protection of both, people and the environment. Their valuable knowledge and expertise thus translates into huge benefits for future generations.

March 21, 2014
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Greater Productivity Means Satisfied Customers

Jürgen Eixler
Director of Engineering, Bossard Switzerland

In manufacturing, productivity is affected by numerous factors, and one of the most important is a low defect rate. Troubleshooting costs money and takes up valuable time as one of our customers who manufactures power and voltage transformers for utilities can attest. The customer was having galling problems with stainless screws in aluminum housings during final assembly of a large voltage converter. The galling was requiring costly, time-consuming repair to the housings. Sometimes repair wasn‘t even possible, so housings had to be scrapped.

So the production manager started looking into how to improve the situation and contacted us engineers at Bossard. The obvious solution was to lubricate the screws, but in this case there were three problems involved, the first of which was the extra time this would take, which would negatively impact productivity. Secondly, this would create the possibility of fouling, which would create a leakage problem in the housings. And thirdly, lubrication is a somewhat vaguely defined activity which every fitter performs a bit differently.

So what we proposed was to coat the screws using a Bossard coating solution – an application- specific tribological dry lubricant coating. A dry lubricant reduces friction like a conventional lub- ricant, so less torque is required. To ensure maximum process reliability, we analyzed this effect and friction coefficients in the Bossard application technology lab. In parallel, our customer started conducting initial trials using dry-coated screws. This preliminary work was successfully completed, no issues being found with implementing the Bossard coating solution in production. The results were impressive, as the number of housing repair cases due to fastening problems in final assembly fell to zero. Considering that such repairs could take up more than half a day, the Bossard coating solution likely boosted productivity by a whopping 20%. What‘s more, since the end customers sometimes had to loosen and re-tighten the screws, they too had had problems with fastener galling. Complaints and costly repairs were the result. But this too became a thing of the past after Bossard coated screws were introduced.

March 21, 2014
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Our Partnership with Bossard is Key to Our Success

Willi Bühlmann
Project Manager, Production, Siemens Building Technologies Division, Switzerland

The Siemens Building Technologies Division is a global leader in building automation. Its innovative product portfolio of TX/IO modules is a noteworthy example of the division‘s work, combining sophisticated technology, elegant design and simple engineering to control building processes from shade to lighting. Building Technologies now produces around 410,000 of these control modules annually.
As project manager I was tasked in 2009 with optimizing production performance of the TX/IO modules, including the assembly system. This was absolutely necessary, as the production process itself was susceptible to problems, while demand was rising. This had taken our assembly system up to its capacity limit, which was evident in the system errors encountered, up to 150 daily.
An analysis revealed that the screws were the main cause of the problems. The TX/IO modules, each with 16 to 32 screws depending on module type, are installed into the corresponding socket. This process is carried out automatically by a screw system which is part of a robot cell. Screws that are too small, too large or otherwise defective were causing system problems and production stops involving extra work and assembly delays. Numerous complaints with the former supplier and having to sort out foreign parts created a lot of additional quality assurance work as well.
Having a background in mechanical engineering, I was well familiar with Bossard Fasteners. So, I thought it would be a good idea to contact Bossard technical associate Albert Schibig for help. Three days later a Bossard team arrived at our production facility in Zug to gauge the problem. The Bossard professionals came to the same conclusion I had: “These screws are definitely a problem.” The next steps were discussed that same day and a plan of action drawn up. Just a few weeks later I had custom-made sample screws and an offer for six million slotted screws annually on my desk. The price was right, the quality was excellent, and the trials were successful. In addition, our TX/IO product manager was able to get a customer request accommodated. They increasingly demanded crossed slot screws. This was no problem for Bossard, who shortly thereafter delivered screws of the desired variety. The Bossard team advised us as well on designing a new screw machine system. Working with Bossard enabled us a substantial overall gain in productivity and process reliability; the added value is quite clear.
Yet optimization of the assembly system was only part of the project. After a number of other strategic measures implemented along the entire value chain of the overall TX/IO project, this product range is now considered a “lean” reference at the production site in Zug. Bossard played a significant role in our ability today to produce 1,500 to 1,800 modules per day in two shifts; in contrast to 1,000 modules in three shifts as used to be the case, corresponding to a productivity increase of more than 50 percent.

March 21, 2014
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Why Keeping up with This Innovative American Car Manufacturer was a Major Challenge!

Michael Kaas
Application Engineer, Bossard North America

The biggest challenge was time. The American electric car manufacturer had only two and a half years to develop its latest model from sketch to assembly line production.

It was during this hectic time that I got into the game as an application engineer at Bossard North America Inc. My job was to assist the company with identifying the best fastening technologies and to coordinate with suppliers. Just in the chassis alone, there are 59 different catalog and engineered products being used. It was thus difficult to not only keep track of them all, but also respond to changes fast enough to avoid supply chain interruptions.

The goal was to optimally provide fastening elements within the shortest possible time while upholding extensive quality controls for corrosion, embrittlement and friction coefficient. We took over these responsibilities in full, which relieved the customer from a lot of work. The young firm was then able to concentrate completely on its core competencies: electric drive technology and automotive engineering.

What‘s more, we literally revolutionized the logistics for the fasteners for our customer – using SmartBin of course, our storage system with weight sensors and automated reordering. We have now installed nearly 1,500 SmartBin containers at their factory.

The customer benefits as well from one-stop shopping, now using us as sole business partner for sourcing fastening elements. I myself spent a lot of time on-site with the customer discussing the latest developmental steps and parts list optimizations with company engineers. The auto industry is highly dynamic, which is why the customer had very strict requirements in terms of timing and cost. We successfully kept pace with this innovative American car manufacturer.

Our operational focus has changed since the latest 2012 model went on the market. The objective now is to reduce complexity by standardizing fasteners for various applications and streamlining the BOMs to enhance our customer‘s competitiveness. This innovative manufacturer is set to revolutionize the automotive industry. It will be a big win for the environment as well.

March 21, 2014
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How a Value-Stream Analysis Made a Major Impact

Berthold Kübler
Head of Operations and Logistics, Hawa AG, Switzerland

Many companies position themselves as total solution providers who sell customers the fuzzy promise of delivering everything “from a single source.” Bossard takes a different approach – one with more value for its customers. Because Bossard focuses on its core expertise in fastening technology, the company goes deeper and is able to provide its customers with added solutions. We at Hawa AG benefit from this approach. We are a leading international supplier of high-quality sliding hardware systems for glass, metal and wood construction as well as for sliding shutters and furniture. We have purchased fastening parts from Bossard for many years and also use their SmartBin logistics system. In addition, we rely on Bossard’s quality and testing laboratories, and we count on their engineering and consulting services to help answer our questions about fastening technology. This includes the Bossard Next Generation service, a new approach to design and process optimization. This service uses value-stream analysis to map and, where possible, improve productivity in the manufacturing process.

Bossard introduced us to value-stream analysis at a time when we were thinking about how we could put one of our best-selling products, the HAWA Concepta 25 / 30 / 50 pivot-slide hard- ware system, to the test. We wanted to find out how well we were making the product and whether there was potential for improving productivity in manufacturing. There were three reasons why we turned to Bossard‘s Next Generation service to answer this question: First, an external partner can perform such a task objectively, whereas the company’s internal analysis could be clouded by preferences for specific procedures or machine. Second, we were familiar with Bossard and we knew the company has a high level of expertise. Third, we were impressed by the approach proposed by Bossard.

Bossard’s value-stream analysis identified considerable potential for improving productivity in our manufacturing process; in particular, it found potential to shorten the throughput time by no less than 83%. However, to realize this potential, we would need to replace all the rivets currently in use with screws. What might at first glance seem like a minor change would actually have a major impact on our operations. It called for investment in new systems as well as extensive testing. The proposed change would also affect our customers. With screws instead of rivets, they would be able to undo connections and take apart our hardware. This poses the question whether this makes sense for our customers. To answer this question, we will closely review the proposal by Bossard in the coming months as we re-engineer our HAWA Concepta 25 / 30 / 50 hardware.

In addition to this design proposal, value- stream analysis yielded a second result: It confirmed that we are already doing many things right in manufacturing. This insight was just as important for us, and we were very pleased.

March 21, 2014
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Results Speak for Themselves – with Bossard

Herbert Villiger
System Controls Software Engineer, Bystronic Laser AG, Switzerland

One of our most innovative and successful products is a laser cutting system known as ByAutonom. Clients use it to cut sheet metal quickly and accurately in sizes up to 4 x 2 meters. We developed ByAutonom as an automated system that can be operated with low manpower in combination with our other automation systems. This system not only makes clients happy, but it has also won awards at trade shows. The first prototypes had only one small issue: The systems shut down repeatedly due to a malfunction in the electromechanical lock on the safety door for the laser equipment. After the initial trial runs, sporadic outages occurred.

The outages resulted in system shutdown, and this could be an issue for clients, especially for smaller companies that might only have one system. Depending on how their operations are organized, the entire plant might come to a stand-still. And that would be costly.

Clearly, we needed a solution for our clients worldwide that would ensure ByAutonom’s reliable operation. We needed a durable technology for the lock on the safety door and we needed it quickly. Our engineers contacted Bossard. We already had a successful partnership with them in logistics. They designed an innovative gear motor with lower power demand and a higher capacity. The locking mechanism, constructed entirely from metal, can be easily installed using two securing holes and thus saves installation costs.

After successful tests of the new locks, we began fitting ByAutonom with them and the results speak for themselves: Not one lock has been defective since installation, and not a single system has stood idle because of a malfunctioning lock.

March 21, 2014
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Installed in Seconds – Valuable Time Saved

Matthias Dorner
Key Account Manager, Bossard Germany

Talking to my customers in the automotive industry, I’ve learned that the lithium-ion rechargeable battery is the core element and also usually the most expensive component in an electric vehicle. Therefore, the goal is to achieve the highest power- to-weight ratio. In other words the lighter the car, the longer the battery could last. To further reduce the body weight of electric vehicles, future- oriented designers use carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP), often just called “carbon.” This material is extremely lightweight, highly stable and – what is particularly relevant for us – it places very special demands on fastening technology. Fastening elements must not destroy carbon materials while still achieving maximum strength required.

The R&D engineers in charge of lightweight construction at BMW listened closely when we presented our ecosyn®-BCT blind rivet nuts for the first time. It is designed specifically for applications in thin-walled, high-tensile, soft, porous or sandwich materials. Thanks to the Bulge Control Technology that ensures that no crack forms in the base material. In fact, interest was so great that a short while later, we were given the opportunity to present our ecosyn®-BCT blind rivet nuts at an in-house expo at BMW – which was somewhat unusual for a relatively new supplier like us.

Those in charge at BMW quickly realized that ecosyn®-BCT blind rivet nuts are the ideal solution for a series of fasteners in the newly developed BMW i3 and i8 electric cars. In fact, they’re so unique that they are the only product that meets all of BMW’s specifications: The parts have to provide process reliability; they can’t damage the CFRP during installation; and they must be easy to use within the relatively short cycle time on the assembly line. In contrast to the initial gluing solution, our blind rivet nuts have the advantage that they don‘t require curing time. They can be installed in just a few seconds. Valuable time can be saved, which in turn can have a positive effect on productivity.

The groundbreaking BMW i3 and i8 electric cars, which will go into series production in early 2014, currently use approximately 70 ecosyn®- BCT blind rivet nuts for the i3 and 30 for the i8. But that’s just the beginning. BMW is also planning to use more CFRP in its other model series to make them lighter. We’re confident that we can make valuable contributions there as well.

March 21, 2014
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