As head of the Industrial Engineering department at the Rehe production site, Philipp Ditthardt is responsible for lean management, production layout planning, and external plant procurement. 

The pressure on German production sites is enormous due to rising manufacturing costs. In order to remain competitive and offer products "Made in Germany," many factors must be taken into account and processes must be optimally interlinked. Philipp Ditthardt explains what all has to be considered.

Philipp Ditthardt, responsible for the Industrial Engineering department at the Rehe production site © ABUS

How does a production site need to be set up to be fit for the future? 

Philipp Ditthardt: "Three keywords come to mind:  flexible, scalable, and resilient. This means that I have to be able to add or remove capacity within a very short space of time. During the coronavirus crisis, for example, we had to react quickly to the high demand for bike locks.  

Automation also plays a critical role, especially for products with high quantities. We have achieved the highest level of automation in cylinder assembly, while the final assembly of some products is much more difficult to automate due to the large number of variants.  

The manual assembly required for this reason makes an efficient design of the production islands and perfect organization of the logistics absolutely essential, as costs are difficult to maintain otherwise. It is only through 100% quality control of our products at the end of each work system that we can meet our standards.

Incidentally, automation does not mean that machines can replace people 1:1. The systems have to be operated and filled and faults rectified. We have many employees who used to assemble locks by hand and are now able to manage automated systems thanks to further training."

Are there certain "Made in Germany" manufacturing processes that set us apart from the competition?  

Philipp Ditthardt: "Our machine and tool construction never fails to impress. Designing and building in-house special machines at this level, i.e. highly complex robot systems and production cells, e.g. for cylinder assembly, is something special.  This enables us to provide production with customized systems at competitive costs. Furthermore, it keeps the knowledge within the company and allows us to act independently.

How important is the issue of sustainability in the design of production processes? 

Philipp Ditthardt: "Sustainability is playing an increasingly important role. I avoid waste and unnecessary transportation routes in the factory layout. We only use LED lighting in our halls, and our new Plant 3 has a photovoltaic system that enables us to generate the electricity for our entire production on good days. I think 'Made in Germany' has had a bit of a dry spell. Poor supply chains and extremely high logistics costs from the Far East are contributing to a rethink on the part of companies. The topic is now also an important factor in purchasing decisions for private individuals, so we can also make an impact here.  

The concept of sustainability, in combination with innovation and future-proof technologies, holds sufficient potential for a renewed upswing in the 'Made in Germany' quality characteristic."


Loading ...