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Serial production of electrical panels for atlas copco
“The serial production electrical panels requires fast turnaround times. And zero defects. Not to mention excellent delivery performance. We know exactly what is expected of us.” This is how Strategic Purchase Manager Geert Peeters and Key Account Manager Erwin Verstraeten describe things. They explain how they achieve this for Atlas Copco.
Geert: “Of the 31 years we are in business, Atlas Copco has been our client for 25 of those. That is how long we’ve been working for and with them. Among other things we work for the oil-free division of this Swedish giant. Atlas Copco makes oilfree compressors; the type used in hospitals and the food sector. We for our part create the switchboards for the compressors’ air dryers. Every year we supply around one thousand of these boards for their Wilrijk location. From there they are distributed worldwide: Britain, the Netherlands, China, America…”
Erwin: “The boards differ widely. From small terminal boxes to large units. We create approximately ten dryer types. And different parameters are used within each of these, concerning for example drying volume or power. In total there are getting on for a thousand different varieties.”
Geert: “Our many years of working together of course mean we are well attuned to Atlas Copco. We know what is important to them: fast and just-in-time delivery, zero defects, flexibility and high delivery performance.” Erwin: “They must have every confidence that we are able to process their orders rapidly. Order it in the morning, ready by the evening. They must have absolute trust that the quality delivered will be outstanding. And that we never fail to deliver; ever! Because if we don’t deliver, this would result in one of their groups being unable to go off line.”
Geert: “How do we achieve this? It starts with excellent stock management. Thanks to our warehouse management system we keep perfect track of everything, meaning we never run short of certain parts. To facilitate this, our planning software is linked to theirs via the cloud. Our planner and Atlas Copco’s are also in daily contact. This means we enjoy continuous insight into their production forecasts. We adjust our stock levels based on this information. All our orders are entered digitally. The rest of the planning is also digitally controlled using SAP. Everything is fully integrated.”
Erwin: “Another way of keeping our processing times short is to continuously keep our processes under scrutiny. P&V is divided across four business units: Infra, Industry, Buildings and OEM. As well as electric engineers, we as an OEM also employ engineers who focus on logistics and processes; on the entire preparatory route. Which subassemblies can we produce? What can be modulated? What can be standardised? How can we construct certain modules even more efficiently? How can we produce and test these switchboards as fast and as accurate as possible?”
Geert: “The testing is key to our guarantee of outstanding quality. We built the test rigs here to simulate Atlas Copco’s compressors. A superb way of functionally testing our switchboards. This allows us to eliminate 99% of all potential faults: bad connections, faulty or defective components….”
Erwin: “Every box is supplied with a serial number. So if something does go wrong in the field, we’re able to trace all the components and take any remedial action. It also works the other way round. If there’s a fault in a particular batch of one of our component suppliers, we can take immediate action.”