CAQ-Software at Baumgarten: CAQ Ensures Premium Quality Parts
Any person adjusting the drivers or passengers seat in a Mercedes SLK, Chrysler Crossfire, Porsche Boxster, or many other car models will only in the rarest cases think of the Baumgarten company from Daaden. And yet for many car manufacturers, such a seat adjustment would be unthinkable without this company from the Westerwald region.
In addition to its production for clients such as Buderus Heiztechnik or Thyssen, Baumgarten, which has been family owned for over fifty years, has from the very beginning manufactured principally for the automobile industry. What started in 1948 as a direct supplier for the Ford factories in Germany, has developed up to the present into a company with 140 employees, whose output of 50 million parts has customers all over the world. In terms of raw materials, this amounts to a total annual processing of an average of 9,000 metric tons of steel.
The main focus of application of the individual molded parts produced by Baumgarten is in the automotive seat industry. In addition to being a direct supplier to well-known car companies, such as Audi, Ford, Porsche, and Volkswagen, Baumgarten also supports renowned component suppliers such as Keiper or Sitech with steel plate designs.
In spite of the often similar application of individual parts, the various parts always differ in form and individual function. Accordingly, Baumgarten develops and produces special tools in order to manufacture large-volume production series of specialty sheet-metal parts with thicknesses from 0.8 to 6 millimeters. Depending on desired specifications, the die-cut, pressed, or protracted molded parts are then de-greased, galvanized, or lacquered. To be able to deliver components which can be assembled and are easily integrated, individual parts are often combined with complementary elements, which are then, according to the client’s needs, either stored in Baumgartens 10.000 square meter warehouse for "just in time" delivery, or they are delivered with the in-house truck fleet directly to the client for immediate use.
Quality as a Given
Baumgartens main business activity as a supplier to the automotive industry requires the adherence to special quality standards. It therefore goes without saying that, in Daaden, Baumgarten regularly certifies goods compliant with DIN EN ISO 9001 (since 1997) as well as the ISO TS 16949 quality tests for the automotive industry (since 2003). Oliver Hermann is responsible for the supervision and maintenance of Baumgartens self-imposed quality standards. As the Manager of Quality Assurance, he is copiously engaged with every one of the myriad parts which leave the production plant in the Westerwald region on an annual basis. But because the yearly output of parts for Volkswagen alone – numbering two million – would exceed the work that any individual could handle, the QM manager counts on the support of the software provider CAQ AG Factory Systems.
The quality assurance software from the Rheinböllen IT company has been in operation officially since January 1, 2004. The efficient installation and user-friendliness of the software are the reasons that just a few weeks after the first installation, detailed analysis could already be performed. Accordingly, the attitude at Baumgarten regarding the software solution is quite positive:
"We tested several vendors," explains QM-specialist Hermann. "With CAQs competitors, either the investment and subsequent costs exceeded what we expected, or the capabilities of the software were so limited that we would never have been able to maintain qualifications compliant with ISO/TS 16949."
Through exhaustive research on the Internet, Baumgarten employees became aware of CAQ AG. Following an initial conversation and a subsequent on-site presentation, Baumgarten was confident it had found in the software company from the nearby Hunsrück region the right partner for quality assurance in the future. "The system is nearly self-explanatory," says Oliver Hermann with satisfaction. "We have many users here who are not on PCs every day. I cant present them an application in DOS or ASCII. The hurdles are much lower with the Windows interface. Especially our users in production know right away how to get around in the system and therefore lose their timidity when confronted with this new “alien entity”.
Besides the intuitive interface design, the modularity of the software was also important in the purchase decision. What originally began with 6 licenses for the core system Compact.Net as well as the associated module REM.Net rejection, complaint, and service management, EMP.Net initial sample inspection, and Risk.Net, has in the meantime been expanded to 10 applications, including a new module for batch monitoring, and the next investment, in the module PMS.Net preventative maintenance, is already planned.
With the expansion of licensing, production line workers have also been involved in quality assurance efforts. While the original tests were carried out exclusively in the quality assurance department, workers from the individual production departments were also included. "That simply made the process easier for us," reports Mr. Hermann, who in the meantime has already independently trained 25 coworkers on the software application.
Quality through Education
In order to keep himself informed about application possibilities in digital quality assurance, and to keep his coworkers likewise up-to-date, the QM manager counts on "TSP". The training possibilities that are offered here as well the highly satisfactory support services make the program hidden in the initials, the "Top Service Pack", an important part of the system. In this way Baumgarten can rest assured that, in the case of system difficulties – none have occurred to date – there will be immediate technical support through email, telephone, or a personal visit from a software specialist. Furthermore, in this context the regularly delivered updates ensure constant optimization of the individual applications. Not to mention the good feeling of being personally well attended to.