From angle grinders, to drills and cordless screwdrivers, to saws and vacuums of all kinds – the Metabo brand has always stood for engineering art that is “Made in Germany”. The high-quality products are developed by professionals for professionals and can be found on construction sites and in industrial plants around the world. The company consistently pursues the vision of the wireless construction site and is a leader in battery technology so as to offer professionals maximum freedom combined with the highest possible performance. Metabo has also launched CAS, the world’s first and largest multi-brand battery system – with currently more than 30 partners.
The company, headquartered in Nürtingen, Baden-Wuerttemberg, was founded almost 100 years ago when Albrecht Schnizler built the first handheld drill. This metal drill became the inspiration for the brand Metabo. Today, the long-established company employs around 2,000 people and is not only a leader in the field of production technology, but also in the optimisation of workflows. Metabo relies on clever and intelligent solutions to identify difficulties in the processes before they arise and to permanently optimise processes.
A look at opportunities for improvement
Tobias Weißhaar has been working for Metabo since 2010 and has already completed his training as an industrial mechanic here. «After my training, I worked as a ‘supplier’ and supplied my colleagues in assembly with missing material,» says Weißhaar. «That gave me a wide range of insights into the processes and logistics.» The young man was quickly appointed deputy team leader of the assembly department, but then decided to hit the school bench again.
After successfully passing his master craftsman’s examination, a new exciting and challenging position awaited him at Metabo: As a team coordinator in assembly, he not only ensures smooth processes, but since then has also supervised various projects to increase efficiency and optimise processes. «Thanks to my own involvement in assembly, I already knew where problems could arise in the process. I can now build on this and tackle individual process steps in a targeted manner in order to permanently optimise them.»
Longer waiting times – a solution needed to be found
More than 180 employees work in assembly at Metabo. Tobias Weißhaar is responsible for battery packaging. Here, the machines, including accessories, are assembled, packaged and labelled ready for dispatch to the end customer, in accordance with individual customer requirements. “At each of the 11 packing workstations, the basic machine is assembled with the corresponding accessories,” says Weißhaar. “To this end, the employees receive the necessary material directly from the logistics specialists to the workplace.”
And it is precisely here that the team coordinator quickly recognises considerable optimisation potential: “We have well-equipped assembly and packing workstations with motivated and great employees – but I noticed that there were always longer waiting and idle times when materials or supplies were needed.” Weißhaar decided: «A solution must be found here – and fast.»
Brush handle as a pragmatic interim solution
The smart young man immediately gets to work looking for ways to optimise this process and reduce idle times. «My basic idea was that the employee would signal directly from his seat if he needed help, supplies or material.»
In this way, a simple, pragmatic solution was found for the time being. «We quickly stuck a green card on one side of a broomstick and a red card on the other. This made it easy for employees to use the traffic light principle to indicate whether everything is OK (green) or whether they have a problem or need help (red).»
Metabo as lead user
«Of course, we knew that using a broom handle like this was just a temporary solution,» smiles Weißhaar. «However, we were immediately sure that we wanted to maintain the traffic light principle.
And so the company was delighted when WERMA Signaltechnik asked whether Metabo would like to act as a lead user in the course of a new development in the area of «process optimisation».
«We already knew WERMA and have been relying on the products of the signal device manufacturer for a long time. Of course, we immediately said «YES» when we were told which system solution we should put through its paces in-house,» Tobias Weißhaar explains and adds: «WeASSIST is essentially the perfect solution for our requirements.»
Inspired right from the start
Then everything happened really quickly: «We gave our go-ahead and just two days later the package with everything we needed to get started arrived here.» Being «out of the box» solutions, the hardware and software are quick to deploy. And WeASSIST can be easily integrated into existing structures as a retrofit solution. Because it is a cloud solution, you can always stay on top of things from anywhere using any devices. «I can immediately see, by glancing at my smartphone, laptop or shift supervisor’s PC, which workstation needs help,» says Weißhaar.
The company started at four of the 11 workstations in the field of battery packaging. This initial implementation was so successful that three other workstations are already equipped with WeASSIST. «The WERMA solution met all our expectations,» says Weißhaar. «I was enthusiastic from the very first minute and still am,» he adds. He adds: «I hope we can use the system in other departments and areas at Metabo.»
Process optimisation in one minute
WeASSIST is an innovative plug & play solution for comprehensive permanent monitoring of all your production and logistics processes – cloud-based, easy to install, quickly retrofittable and widely scalable. Whether used on machines or systems, in logistics areas or at manual workstations – WeASSIST by WERMA ensures transparency, digitally and in real time. This helps you to identify problems before they arise and to constantly optimise processes.
Weißhaar says: «It is particularly great that the system consists of software and hardware. You get a single package and you can get started right away.» In particular, the technician is impressed that the cloud-based solution can be installed very easily and without great effort. He adds with a smile: «WERMA does not over-promise when it advertises with the slogan «Process optimisation in one minute. I could hardly believe myself how quickly WeASSIST was implemented.»
The team coordinator is also pleased with the wide range of analysis and evaluation options. All relevant data is clearly displayed regardless of the source (manufacturer, type and age of machines or manual workstations). Unlike complex MDC/MES systems or IoT solutions, WeASSIST allows you to easily identify and evaluate every optimisation potential: in real time and from anywhere.
WeASSIST – get started quickly!
The cloud-based solution by WERMA, which can be retrofitted at any time, enables process optimisation in one minute: Simply integrate the hardware into workstations or machines and activate software access. Then configure the hardware, software and individual dashboards, assign roles and users – and you are done. All integrated machines and workstations will immediately report their status directly to the software via a gateway. This allows problems to be identified right away and processes to be optimised constantly through analyses – optimisation has never been so easy.
«We are really impressed with the WERMA solution,» says Tobias Weißhaar.»The entire system is extremely clear and really very easy to use. With WeASSIST, employees can evaluate exactly the data they need.» He concludes: «We are absolutely satisfied and delighted that we, as lead users, were able to contribute our experiences and suggestions and thus make the entire system even better.»