An industrious undertaking

From the August 2019 issue.

The concept of four mega factories in one campus is quite inventive. For German trailer builder, Kässbohrer, the evolution of this plant from when it first opened to now is particularly impressive, considering the manufacturer produces the widest range of equipment in Europe that meets the needs of general cargo, cold chain, intermodal, construction and liquid and bulk goods transportation sectors.

Managing the needs of the most versatile customer base in more than 55 countries with made-to-order equipment guarantees vehicles with the fastest delivery times, in an industry that requires complex management excellence, according to COO Ahmet Yilmaz, is what the Adapazari campus achieves with four mega factories combined.

“Adhering firmly to lean production principles, all aspects of planning and production operate in a ‘plan, do, check, act’ cycle that yields constant improvement,” Yilmaz says. “Improving production with automation and robotic technologies where necessary, today Adapazari campus operates in a 365,000-square-metre area with total annual production capacity of 20,000 vehicles.”

When Adapazari campus opened in 1993, the product range was similarly rich however the production capacity was a sixth of what it is today and was successfully carried out without the four mega factories one campus approach. In line with advancements in manufacturing technologies as well as addressing and managing the needs of a growing international customer base, capacity increase investments, product quality investments and automation and robotic manufacturing capability investments were constantly carried out.

“In 2014, onsite advanced surface coating technology Cataphoresis / KTL facility with waste water treatment facility was completed, allowing us to augment customer benefit to the maximum by presenting KTL as standard instead of an option in vehicle more vehicle types like tippers and heavy duty platforms as well as standard vehicles,” Yilmaz says.

Between 2011-2017 the company invested 54 million euros into its automation and robotic manufacturing capabilities.

“The robotic paint application procedure, for example, allows for a quality guarantee uniform primer and top-coat paint application on KTL surfaces, resulting in 60 per cent paint savings that benefit the customer and the environment,” Yilmaz says.

Since June 2019, the campus also hosts a state-of-the-art low-bed and specialised vehicle factory that has capacity to produce 2,500 vehicles per year in double shifts. It is said to be the highest production of its type in Europe.

The four mega factories at the Adapazari campus also feature efficient use of 65 different production technologies, including automated welding, cutting and painting. Adapazari campus is the only facility in Europe to use KTL and metallisation techniques under same giant roof.

The importance of utilising specific facilities per product line
The manufacturing of Kässbohrer’s widest product range is achieved through its lean management philosophy. Since 2008, Adapazari teams have working within lean principles where everything is defined, measured and improved using a set of lean tools including Balance Score Cards (BSCs).

“We maintain a centralised quality management including audit standards and quality assurance,” Yilmaz says. “For quality assurance, the journey ending at perfect Pre-Delivery Inspection (PDI) is improved with Eight Disciplines (8D) problem solving skills, jishukens, kaizens and hoshin-kanri methods where each production team and its members participate in the improvement of the process.”

Producing the widest product range in one site offers efficiencies in sourcing of raw materials and supplies to the same location as well as common usage of KTL and paint facilities. However, the unique differences of products and their production techniques are greater than the benefits of sharing basic production facilities, according to Yilmaz. The real efficiency is in complexity management, executed according to lean principles and dedication to quality assurance supported by digital systems like Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) and Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems like SAP.

Running efficient production cycles
The implementation of SAP software across the site is critical for daily operations. Lean management and quality management are foundations that Kässbohrer uses to manage the complexity of manufacturing the widest product range while accommodating the requests of the most versatile customer bases.

“ERP systems like SAP support our analogue efforts,” Yilmaz says. 

“We position ourselves not only as a manufacturing company but as a technology company as well, which is why we have a project management office dedicated to integrated information assets and knowledge management. This unit provides the necessary physical and virtual infrastructure enabling most efficient centralised knowledge management. SAP ERP is just one of the many virtual planning tools that our project management office maintains to provide efficiency in execution and data in analysis processes.”

This application of SAP for trailer building is a major point-of-difference when compared to other OEMs. In terms of high diversity management, Kässbohrer’s usage of SAP is the best example in the world, according to Yilmaz. “Due to our excellence in implementation of lean and quality principles and methodologies, we are unprecedented in the world for adopting ERP systems like SAP to our own processes hence augmenting total efficiency in manufacturing.”

Dedication to perfection
Kässbohrer is unique in that it has its own dedicated PPG office. As the second largest coating specialist in the world, PPG offers surface presentation, coating and painting control as well as tracking systematics.

In terms of PPG’s refinishing process and quality assurance, the PPG office implements a management and inspection program for surface preparation, coating and painting. This enables better quality process dominance and workflows within the Kässbohrer campus.

Taking ‘Enginuity’ to the extreme
An important part of the campus is the Research and Development (R&D) facility, which engages in innovative developments, stress tests, spot testing and features a temperature box.

“The R&D and prototype test centre on campus was established in 2009,” Yilmaz says. “This site consolidated all our innovation activities and coordinated our involvement in international projects like the European Commission backed Aeroflex Project [see breakout box] to research next generation road vehicles in accordance with EU sustainability targets.”

Kässbohrer’s success with Trailer Innovation Awards, 2017 in Safety Category and 2019 Chassis Category can be attributed to this R&D and prototype test centre, which initiated prototyped testing and validated Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) with the assistance of 100 engineers and research fellows.
Kässbohrer Digital including Digital Trailer Control for automated trailer processes was also launched by this centre in 2014.

The centre has produced over 200 product, process and service patents in the last decade and has published 65 articles and contributed to EU white papers on aerodynamics.

Aside from advanced research in material, digital, aerodynamics fields, the centre also carries out continuous product improvement activities.

Kässbohrer has the widest product range, each itself are designed, tested, validated to be manufactured to the highest technological manufacturing capability available. With feedback from the most versatile customer base in 55 countries as well as each country geographic conditions, specifications and legal requirements, Kässbohrer today manages a product portfolio of over 1,000 unique products. The safety, quality and customer benefits of these products and options are all designed in 3D at the centre while virtual safety and quality tests are performed.

“All these options and products are tested in the prototype centre, using the testing facilities available like stress testing, spot testing, material testing, electronics lab as well as temperature box,” Yilmaz says. “The R&D centre also supervises live road and physical tests that cannot be performed in the prototype centre to assure our customers get the best product on the market in which ever transportation segment they operate.”

Fast Fact
The Aeroflex Project involves the development of energy efficient, safe, comfortable, configurable and cost-effective vehicle concepts, adapting them to ever-changing working conditions. The goal of this program, which is supported and funded by the European Commission, is to develop and demonstrate new technologies, concepts and architectures for complete vehicles meeting future logistics and co-modality needs and a clear focus on zero emissions.

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