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Modular design improves the efficiency of a lighting manufacturer

Andreas Bauer's picture

The modular principle is well known in the automobile industry. It decreases complexity while allowing for higher productivity. The example from RZB demonstrates that the principle can also be applied to the construction of several other products.

Project background and challenge
Rudolf Zimmermann Bamberg GmbH manufactures more than 20 000 high quality lamps on a daily basis. With over 10 000 products, the small business offers its clientele a very broad product spectrum: from indoors and outdoors lighting to sophisticated arrangements for private apartments, to work and safety lighting. The company produces 26,500 different product components and purchases over 6,000 from more than 700 different suppliers.
Pre-manufactured product groups are temporarily stored together and completed lamps are stored, in an effort to ensure short delivery times despite the enormous diversity of products. However, customers increasingly request product changes and innovation, which creates a risk for some of the stored objects not to ever be sold.
An analysis was conducted in order to optimize the production process so as to avoid the devaluation or scrapping of stored products because of technology or product changes. The analysis covered the whole production process from the reception of components to the delivery of products.

The production process
During thermoplastic production, the plastic granulate is pressed into shapes with pressure and temperature, hardened and finally deburred. The thermoplastic pieces are the basis and mounting frame of the lamps. In addition to synthetic base plates, metallic base plates are also used. Metal sheets are transformed into base plates and other metal pieces with automatic laser machines, cutting tools and nibbling machines.
Depending on the product requirements, the pieces are finally trimmed, welded and, if necessary, polished or powder-coated. In the assembly, the light source, cable harness, reflectors and covers of glass or plastic are mounted to the mounting frame or plate. Finally, the lamps are 100% tested and securely packed.

The material saving measures
The consulting exercise focused on finding potentials that can be tapped through measures in product development, for example:
• Cost savings by avoiding rejected products
• Reduction of material consumption through the optimization of sheet metal thickness, including standardization
• Development of a modular system.

Through the introduction of a new modular system, the diversity of components could be reduced, which in turn decreases the material losses that are generated when some components or between-products can no longer be sold. At the same time, the metal sheet thickness was reduced and material-intensive mounting pieces reduced. Consequently, the amount of stored objects decreased and delivery times shrank.
Particularly salient optimization potentials could be found in metal sheet processing. Through early construction reviews with all concerned people, the number of different sheet thicknesses used was reduced. In thermoplastic manufacturing, the number of tools and pieces decreased, as well as set-up times, due to the development of standardized basic framed (modular principle) and the use of standard building pieces.

Furthermore, the following sources for material losses were identified:
• A high minimum purchase quantity for supplied parts, which is tied to longer delivery times and therefore high (safety)stocks.
• Sales fluctuations for single productions
• Changes in the construction of components through customer wishes or suppliers
• A large product spectrum.
Following the go-Inno consulting exercise, the specification sheets were more clearly defined, and the pieces manufactured so that they are more easily produced and assembled. The small business also signed framework contracts with key suppliers. The recommendations from the consultant are responsible for reducing the needs for synthetic materials and metal sheets, and the costs for these materials sunk by around 20%.

Summary
The modular principle is well known in the automobile industry. It decreases complexity while allowing for higher productivity. The example from RZB demonstrates that the principle can also be applied to the construction of several other products.

Project theme:
Demonstration of the modular principle in a lamp manufacturing enterprise.

Project implementation:
RZB Rudolf Zimmerman Bamberg
Rheinstraße 16
96052 Bamberg
Phone: +49 951 7909 304
marketing@gmh.de
www.rzb.de

Contact:

PIUS-Internet-Portal
c/o Effizienz-Agentur NRW
Henning H. Sittel
Tel. 0203 378 79 51
E-Mail: info@pius-info.de

Green Eco Net
c/o Ecologic-Institut gGmbH
Dr. Martin Hirschnitz-Garbers
Tel. 030 86880 272
E-Mail: martin.hirschnitz-garbers@ecologic.eu

Source in german: Bundesministerium für Wirtschaft und Energie