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CAQ-Software at ANKA-Draht: Perfect Traceability

In the style of well-known companies such as Haribo or IKEA, whose names are traceable to the initials of the founders or their home towns, ANKA-Draht Insinger KG was likewise named after its founders Andreas and Kamilla Insinger. The firm, established in 1971 and today employing over 200 workers, is still family-owned and managed by the second-generation Andreas Insinger.

As a specialist in the manufacturing of wires and flexible copper cords in non-insulated and tin-plated designs, ANKA-Draht supplies several types of business, from medical technology and the automotive industry to the defense and electronics industries, with highly conductive wires and cords, which, according to demand, vary by diameter and design.

Whereas in the medical field there is often a need for electrical conductors of less than 0.05 millimeters, in other areas there is demand for cords with bundled wire containing up to 10,000 individual elements in order to guarantee the transport of high voltage. All thicknesses, which, conform to the customers wishes, leave the premises as individual or twisted wire, are derived from an 8-millimeter casting roller wire. This wire is then systematically tapered by being pulled over so-called drawing dies, so that, after much mechanical processing, a 1.6 millimeter super-fine conductor less than the width of a human hair can be derived from an 8 millimeter copper element.

Even if the cords and wires are ultimately utilized in several industries, this family business does not act as a direct supplier in these fields, in order to avoid competition with their own customers. As a manufacturer of wires and cables, ANKA-Draht has been using its 17,000 square meter facility for the last 35 years almost exclusively in order to serve the cable industry, which in turn packages and insulates the product according to their customers needs. Since the qualitative demands placed upon the automotive, medical, defense, and electronics industries correspond to higher standards, it is especially important for ANKA-Draht, as a secondary supplier, to carry out an enormous inspection effort to ensure the required product performance, which naturally leads to certifications such as DIN EN ISO 9001 as well as VDA 6.

Systematic Quality Management

In order to reach and maintain the strict certification requirements, ANKA-Draht, based in Neunburg vorm Wald, has been using a system for quality assurance especially coordinated with their own requirements since the end of 2004. In addition to the demand to install an automatic, complete traceability/bin monitoring system with specially printed labels, the cost-performance ratio was also a fundamental factor in the choice of a software provider. Due to these demands, the number of computer-aided quality assurance (CAQ) firms that were to be considered was significantly narrowed already at the beginning of the search. After the first comparisons at "Control", the quality control trade fair at Sinnsheim, and subsequent presentations with detailed product comparisons by three possible software vendors, ANKA-Draht decided quickly for CAQ AG Factory Systems.

Consistent Traceability with Automated Labeling

The background of the task of labeling was a custom-developed control mechanism which – up until then implemented manually – provided for systematic quality maintenance in an efficient manner. Since a 100% check of the produced elements was not required, every machine operator at the beginning of a batch was supplied with a certain number of labels, which were visibly attached to the pieces produced at that time. The labels contained the name of the batch, the amount, as well as the time of the production and the name of the responsible party. Since the labels were given out in smaller amounts than the actual production, new labels were needed during the production run. These labels could be requested in connection with a quality check of the current production and in turn be used for a certain time period, until again a quality control check with subsequent new request for labels occurred.

This highly efficient, proven method was also to be utilized with the future software-supported quality assurance, but without having to deal with the necessary time expenditure any longer. With the proviso that the printer that was already being used for this purpose be integrated into the automated system, the technicians from CAQ AG were given one of the devices at a very early stage of negotiations.

Within just three weeks CAQ AG developed a module for interfacing with the printing devices at each of the six checking stations, which, after the collection of data within the system, triggered the automatic printing of labels with all desired data. "This possibility for recurrent quality assurance proved itself as effective," reports the manager of the quality control department, Mario Donat. "Why should we have given up this control mechanism?

"Rather, we wanted our future software provider to find a way to integrate this mechanism into its already existing system, and for that reason it was, and is, absolutely the right decision that we are doing business with CAQ AG."

Furthermore, the fact that our company, despite this special accomplishment, are not acquiring a complete, mammoth system, but rather could start with selected modules, convinced us completely that we had found the correct software provider."

Presently ANKA-Draht KG uses ten licenses of the core program "Compact.Net - quality planning, inspection, and analysis." with the supplements "Mail.Net – QM mail assistant", which in the case of quality problems informs the respective responsible party of the problem via email, the form generator "Form.Net - graphic form generator", which produces the control reports and the quality control plan in a clear and concise paper form as well as the specially developed printed labels. Complementing two additional recently integrated licenses from Compact.Net, the entire production and inspection process will be managed and assured with help of the CAQ AG quality control software by the end of 2005.

Expansions, such as the direct involvement of top management in the auditing of the corresponding key data, are already planned. "If possible, everyone in the company should have access to the system," explains quality control manager Donat. "The software is user-friendly to such a degree that already after the shortest orientation users can utilize all the program’s special features which simply helps reduce the workload."

Corresponding to the cost-performance ratio which is emphasized at ANKA-Draht, multiple use of the system would not lead to higher costs, since the CAQ AG licenses are not, as is standard in the software industry, tied to workstations, but rather to users, which allows for alternating use in unlimited workstations.

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