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CAQ-Software at Heraeus: Quality with Bright Prospects

Those who think of precious metals think of gold and silver because these materials are rare and therefore of great value. Yearly, 20,000 tons of silver are extracted worldwide and only 2,500 tons of gold. Examining the ranking of ores with more scrutiny, it becomes apparent that the extracted volume of the raw material platinum is significantly lower with only 500 tons per year. It is therefore quite remarkable that more than 90% of all used or consumed products contain platinum or have at least come in contact with platinum during their production process.

Production of platinum sensors

In 1851, Wilhelm Carl Heraeus – the founder of this present day multinational corporation – took over his father’s Einhorn pharmacy in Hanau. Only five years later, the pharmacist and chemist Heraeus successfully melted two kilograms of platinum in an oxyhydrogen flame. The “First German Platinum Smelter W. C. Heraeus” was born. Soon thereafter, the young enterprise received orders from all over the world. Goldsmiths, jewelers, and dental replacement manufacturers, chemical laboratories and many other industries all became clients. In the meanwhile, Wilhelm Carl Heraeus discovered many more applications for the precious Platinum metal Platinum.

Today, the former Einhorn pharmacy in Hanau has developed into a world-wide acting corporation for precious metals and technology, a corporation that, with its 13,000 employees looks toward a prosperous future.

What once began as a platinum smelter has now become a multifarious business yielding production goods with a multitude of applications. The company’s range spans precious metals, sensors, dental and medical products, fused quartz glass, and special light sources.

The products in the area of precious metals are used in the automotive industry the chemical and pharmaceutical industry, semi-conductor and electronics industry, glass and ceramics industry, research and development, lighting technology, aerospace, medical engineering, gauge technology, solar technology, environmental technology, telecommunications, and the jewelry industry, as well as in writing utensils.

Highest Expectations in Medical Technology

Pacemaker electrodes

As part of it precious metal branch, the Medical Components Division concentrates on the production of precision parts for medical technology, for example components for pace makers for minimally invasive surgery and coated products. The production process combines the customer’s highest quality expectations with the requirements for bio-compatibility.

In order to satisfy the customer’s highest expectations Heraeus uses an individually coordinated system for quality management based on CAQ AG Factory Systems software in Rheinböllen. Today, this system has access to databanks collected over a period of thirteen years.

Quality Assurance with Licensing

In order to stay informed about developments in quality standards, Heraeus has always implemented the CAQ AG software comprehensively. Heraeus, a company with over 2.000 employees, has procured a factory license to use CAQ AG’ software solution Compact.Net. In this manner 500 users have the possibility to enter, access, and evaluate information simultaneously using over 300 computers interfaced with the CAQ system. Every employee working in quality control has continuous access to all relevant data.

Perfect Interface with Gauge Inspection Systems

Production of platinum crucibles

Various existing gauge and inspection systems are connected through standardized interfaces with the CAQ system in order to transmit data. Therefore, standard gauges, such as calipers, dial gauges, micrometer gauges are connected directly to the CAQ system and deliver current production quality data continuously. Additionally, 3D-coordinate gauges and video gauges as well as specialized inspection equipment are connected to the CAQ-system with APE.Net, CAQ softwares automatic inspection data collection software. These gauges deliver continuous up-to-date manufacturing quality data. A 24-hour data stream delivers permanent information updates during the highly sensitive production of pace maker components. A control panel displays this data stream in real time in each production facility. Operators and responsible parties can use this control panel to monitor “on the fly” the quality status of operational systems. The quality team can always read, evaluate, and predict all relevant data of the current production with the CAQ system.

Quality Management “par excellence”

In addition to employees involved in production, members of the quality management and technology staff also stay continuously informed regarding the current quality status. Heraeus applies a preventative quality management approach by expanding its existing standard software system Compact.Net with strategic expansions, such as the failure modes and effects analysis software Risk.Net and the Audit Management Software QAM.Net. More than twenty-five processing and production audits, including procedure editing and monitoring are organized and executed annually.

Trust in the Future – the new CAQ.Net Release

Heraeus Hanau

Although much has changed over the 20-years that have passed since Heraeus first installed the CAQ-systems software, the company has continued to use the Quality Management Software (computer aided quality = CAQ). System administrator Joachim Wrobel explains the company’s continued trust: “A 20-year business relationship requires trust. We know that we can trust the CAQ AG specialists because the company was always open to our user-informed suggestions, even though the stand-alone standard software is already top notch.”

Roland Rücker, also acting as system administrator of the CAQ system for EMD and MCD, adds “changing to the new CAQ.Net-version was an important upgrade. We implemented Windows Vista on all computers in 2009 and CAQ AG was already fully prepared for this. The new CAQ.Net release offered an obvious expansion of possibilities, improved transparency, and hence streamlined many procedures. To switch to this updated version, with over 2.600 new functions was a matter of course for Heraeus.”

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