Halberg Guss and CAQ AG – Quality en Bloc
Halberg Guss produces engine blocks, cylinder heads, and crankshafts for automobiles and trucks in all shapes and sizes. In order to be able to meet the quality-related challenges of the future head-on, the company implements both a vast variety of physical inspection devices and cutting-edge software solutions.
Once assembled on the transfer lines of the big automobile manufacturers, the durable and corrosion-resistant powder-coated cast parts that leave the Halberg Guss production facilities in Leipzig, Saarbrücken, and South Africa come together to serve as the automotive hearts of heavy-duty vehicles all around the globe.
Continuously rising fuel prices and ever stricter emission regulations call for a constant weight reduction effort in automobile components. Since aluminium is inappropriate for large diesel engines due to factors such as reduced noise insulation properties, grey cast iron reigns supreme and is still the material of choice in this area. The requirement to continually decrease part thickness, however, creates new challenges for the engineers at Halberg Guss that call for cutting edge production methods and a corresponding increase in quality assurance. In order to achieve said quality demands during the production of several hundred tons of grey cast iron a day, the 2,400 worker strong company has been successfully relying on CAQ.Net® quality management software solutions since 1998.
„Our aim was to implement standard software that allowed us to monitor our production process, document and process complaints as well as centrally manage our FMEAs and gauges. Said software should allow us to define statistical evaluations in accordance with existing standards and allow us to individually create related reports and graphics. Another aspect that we placed particular importance on was an automated measurement protocol interface that facilitated a direct interconnection with our 3D coordinate measuring machines that monitor our production process” the quality manager at Halberg Guss states. In-depth talks between the quality assurance / IT-departments at Halberg Guss and CAQ AG in 1998 proved that they had found their solution provider and that CAQ.Net® fulfilled all the requirements Halberg Guss expected from a quality management software solution.
CAQ.Net®’s modular structure allowed Halberg Guss to put together a software system that today consists of the modules for statistical process control (SPC with Compact.Net), gauge management (PMM.Net), Failure Mode and Effects Analysis (Risk.Net), as well as complaint and service management (REM.Net). Automatic inspection data imports are facilitated by the APE.Net module, which connects CAQ.Net® with a variety of subsystems that each deliver inspection data directly from the shop floor. The bidirectional interface module Connect.Net takes care of the consistent master data exchange between CAQ.Net® and the ERP-system.
All-Encompassing Quality Management System
At Halberg Guss, the software modules are merged into an integrated, all-encompassing quality management system. All inspection plans from incoming goods inspections to process-accompanying inspections and outgoing goods inspections are created, performed, and maintained in the Compact.Net module. The software allows users to always apply the appropriate inspection strategy to meet individual inspection requirements such as incoming goods inspections compliant with ISO 2859 and 3951 (normal, increased, and reduced), flexible skip lot methods, or freely definable process-accompanying inspections. The overall inspection bandwidth ranges from highly individualized inspections with unlimited qualitative or quantitative characteristics to precisely formulated mathematical/statistical SPC-operations or SPC batch-inspections. Inspection data itself is delivered to the CAQ.Net® system by means of wireless or cable-bound handheld gauges with acoustic or optical feedback that transfer data via RS-232 interface or USB port.
The gauges are managed via the PMM.Net module, which monitors all gauge applications and movements as well as lending or storage locations and related processes. Information regarding usage-specific maintenance and calibration procedures is reported back to PMM.Net automatically from within Compact.Net. This interaction between the two modules means that if, for instance, a specific gauge is due for calibration and is nonetheless about to be used for an inspection process, the Compact.Net module may demand that the user select an alternative gauge from the list of available gauges.
Integrated in the Production Line
All measurement and inspection equipment at Halberg Guss is integrated into the CAQ-System via the automatic inspection data import module APE.Net. This allows the system to be seamlessly merged into the existing assembly line. Thanks to the simplicity of the module and standardization of the interface, the team at Halberg Guss were able to perform said integration all by themselves. Data collected at the production line is automatically allocated to the correct inspection order via the inspection order number, stored in a central database, and thus made available to all other CAQ.Net® modules employed at Halberg Guss where it serves as basis for subsequent supplier evaluations or APQP/PPAP processes.
Incoming goods inspections, process-accompanying inspections and outgoing goods inspections can be analysed via detailed and scalable test methods, which fully automatically check processes for outliers, trends, runs, or any other type of effect and alert a predefined group of persons at Halberg Guss, if process or tolerance thresholds are violated or any other type of process anomaly occurs.
The frequency of the inspection can also be defined individually. Apart from standard inspection frequencies, Compact.Net allows users to apply so-called shift-models. These mean that inspection intervals can be tailored to precisely correspond to individual work-shifts. Once the inspection plan has been completed, the software allows a test run in a realistic test environment (sandbox) prior to putting it into practice.
The complaint management module REM.Net provides Halberg Guss with invaluable support throughout every-day complaint-workflows. If, for example, an incoming goods inspection finds a faulty product or a process violation occurs during an SPC inspection, an internal complaint is created, monitored, and processed directly via REM.Net. All important process data is available immediately and can be fully incorporated into processes or fault descriptions or cross-examined with regard to previously conducted production and inspection orders. The REM.Net module is in action at all Halberg Guss production facilities. This means that all complaints from the affiliated sites are collected in a single system, where they can be comprehensively analyzed. This centralized system allows the quality manager at Halberg Guss to obtain desired overviews and statistics at the touch of a button.
FMEA in Play
FMEA (Failure mode and effects analysis) is one of the most widely used types of risk analysis. It is a procedure within product development and operations management that assists throughout the analysis of potential failure modes and provides a system for classification according to the severity and likelihood of failures. During the product development phase, FMEA helps identify and eliminate the causes of failures and put in place precise preventative actions. This means that subsequent control and failure costs within production processes or at customer level can be reduced significantly or prevented entirely.
With regard to FMEA, Halberg Guss once again profits from the fact that the individual modules of CAQ.Net® are all fully linked with one another. To what degree the PDCA circle (plan–do–check–act) is actively lived at Halberg Guss is probably best explained via the following example that highlights the interaction between the risk management module Risk.Net, Compact.Net, and REM.Net: FMEA analyses that are initially developed in Risk.Net are applied in Compact.Net inspection plans. The inspection plans that are created in Compact.Net in turn trigger complaints in REM.Net. The complaints in REM.Net are then used to compile a fresh knowledge base for creating and revising new FMEAs in Risk.Net. All of this ensures that improvements in the levels of quality and safety at Halberg Guss are continuously implemented.