Ziehl-Abegg ENG

The intelligent "Smart Klaus" worktable ensures zero-defect production and increases productivity by 20 percent.

Miroslawa Schneider is completely relaxed. The employee in electronics production at ZIEHL-ABEGG SE in Künzelsau assembles circuit boards for EC motors and fans. Working with her colleague, she knows that she cannot make any mistakes. This relieves her of the pressure at work and the worry of making a mistake. The Smart Klaus is an attentive and reliable observer. The OPTIMUM datamanagement solutions GmbH work table in Karlsruhe, equipped with industrial cameras, is a co-thinking work table and will not miss a thing. And as soon as Miroslawa Schneider has done everything right, a big "O.K." and a sugar-sweet smiley appear on the screen. "The praise for one's own work is great. The system simply provides security. I work much more concentrated and also a lot faster", says the assembler and approaches motivated the next circuit board.


Before the SmartKlaus was integrated into the production process of the fan specialist based in Hohenlohe, the work for the employees was much more demanding. "There remained a constant uncertainty, and after assembly we conscientiously checked each printed circuit board to see whether all the parts positioned correctly" explains Miroslawa Schneider. This is no longer necessary at all. As a result, line productivity has increased by around 20 percent. Production manager Hermann Mütsch initially did not expect this. "The idea of introducing an automated inspection system with direct feedback in the assembly process was primarily aimed at ensuring our high quality standard. The fact that the employees are now working faster is a nice side effect that brings a profit", the electrical engineer is pleased to report.


In order to expand PCB assembly in electronics production, he was looking for a system that could monitor manual assembly and immediately visualize errors at the workstation and report them back to the worker in real time. "The Smart Klaus was sort of a flash of inspiration in my brain" recalls Hermann Mütsch at the first demonstration of the system in Karlsruhe. He ordered six of the intelligent assistance systems and integrated them into a new production line. The line runs 15 different part numbers for three different sized engines. The capacity is designed for 400,000 circuit boards in a two-shift operation. Each work shift is staffed by one supervisor, six assemblers, three inspectors, one material stacker and an electronics technician for the repair of faulty assemblies. ZIEHL-ABEGG has invested a total of one million euros in the system.

The ensemble combines the previously separate work areas of assembly and conductor board testing. In addition, the work step panel separation is added. Here, the round PCBs are cut from the square panel. The uncomplicated integration of the Smart Klaus into the system surprised process planner Heiko Spohn. "Despite special requests the installation, connection to the production line control and our IT environment was trouble-free. A small, separate program for the connection to the central control system was quickly written. Optimum was very cooperative and integrated the requirements into the specifications," he says. 


The smart Klaus now receives all necessary data from the company's internal database for PCB assembly via the order number. The intelligent worktable guides the employee via monitor, cheks, follows every step of the process according to the four-eyes principle and confirms when the process has been completed with zero errors. "There is communication between man and computer. The person acts and the computer gives the signal if the action was correct. Errors are recognized immediately and the employee is immediately asked to correct them. Only then the process can continue" explains Wolfgang Mahanty. The managing director of OPTIMUM datamanagement solutions developed the system in cooperation with the Optimum team and made it ready for series production. He sees in the Smart Klaus Klaus an industry 4.0 solution in its purest form. "The Smart Klaus knows what it is, knows the complex processes of a production, guides them and compares if they are executed correctly" he outlines the working method. As a specialist for industrial image processing and intelligent database systems, he has equipped the assistance system with interfaces that enable it to communicate with other customer software systems. These allow fast integration into the production process and simple data exchange with the systems.