Georg Fischer AG is an international industrial group based in Schaffhausen, Switzerland. The company employs a workforce of approximately 14,000 at its 50 production sites and 130 companies worldwide. Georg Fischer AG is comprised of three core divisions: GF Piping Systems, GF Automotive and GF Machining Solutions.
Georg Fischer Automotive (GF Automotive) is part of the Georg Fischer AG Industrial Group, which operates from its headquarters in Schaffhausen, Switzerland. With more than 50 production sites and 130 companies worldwide, Georg Fischer AG employs a workforce of approximately 14,000. The company is comprised of three core divisions: GF Piping Systems, GF Machining Solutions and GF Automotive.
Schaffhausen-based GF Automotive develops and manufactures cast iron, aluminum and magnesium parts for use in the automotive industry and the automotive supplier sector. Approximately 5,000 employees manufacture more than 100 million components at the company’s nine production sites in Germany, Austria and China. The automotive division’s research and development (R&D) activities are carried out in Switzerland and China.
The initial aim of introducing Opcenter software was to standardize production-related systems. The GF Automotive Division had grown considerably in recent years. An analysis of each of the plants’ processes and systems revealed the system environment was heterogeneous, and therefore it was difficult to achieve data consistency. Ultimately, the reason for introducing a cross-process Opcenter system was to standardize the company’s quality management (QM) processes, and improve its ability to fulfill customer and compliance requirements.
A team of six kicked off the realization phase by defining the individual subprocesses before drawing up a functional specification document. It became clear that it was necessary to implement a software solution for comprehensive quality management.
The work carried out by the cross-project QM team showed that GF Automotive would first need to develop standardized processes and then select software that could be used to map these processes. They needed to consider the following issues:
Following a functional comparison, the team recommended Opcenter software from Siemens Digital Industries Software.
In addition to its functionality, the reason the company selected Opcenter quality software was because it was deemed low risk; it was a fully-developed, widely-used solution that only required modification; and it was sustainable and provided a secure investment.
So GF Automotive decided the best combination would be Opcenter Quality software in conjunction with their SAP as a PPC/ERP system, including various add-ons
The GF Automotive and Siemens Digital Industries Software project teams worked together to compile a comprehensive technical specification document prior to the pilot project being launched at two of the company’s sites.
The fact that all of the modules were implemented in full at both pilot plants and was followed by a roll-out at seven of the company’s European plants made it a unique project.
A standardized specific approach/template was applied to each plant. This approach/ template was then used for the roll-out in all the other plants.
“We set our sights on achieving increased process stability and efficiency with the use of standardized CAQ software throughout the division,“ says Joerg Nawrocki, head of quality and certificate of conformity (CoC) logistics. “Using Opcenter Quality has helped us to achieve this ambitious objective.”
In the first phase of the roll-out, GF Automotive used the Concern and Complaint Management module, the Gage Management System module and the Audit Management module.
These modules were chosen for the first stage of the implementation because they are not interdependent and run relatively autonomously. They might also be considered simple modules in terms of operation. This gave the users peace of mind, increasing the degree of system acceptance.
GF Automotive prefers a lean solution that offers comprehensive concern and complaint management coverage to meet all of its needs. It is required for processing customer, supplier and internal complaints. The 8D Report, which is imperative for automotive suppliers, is automatically created by the system in accordance with the captured data.
GF Automotive does not require the automatic and systematic feedback of results to be sent to the advanced product quality planning (APQP) feature of Opcenter Quality.
In the future, the company is considering using the Concern and Complaint Management module for acquiring and evaluating data, results and actions relating to occupational safety and environmental protection inspections.
The Quality Action Management module is of particular importance to GF Automotive. It is used for action processing and monitoring status. It enables the visualization of all defined actions, including user-related actions, on a cross departmental basis. Furthermore, the escalation mechanisms for the various action types are configurable. This enables GF Automotive to determine the course of action if deadlines are exceeded.
At GF Automotive the Gage Management module is used as an electronic index card with inspection cycle monitoring. Calibration and capability checks are carried out in individual cases.
As an exception at certain sites, data exchange with the calibration laboratory is affected on a bi-directional basis, including status feedback following successful calibration. This means that the data relating to the gage to be calibrated can be automatically transferred to the external calibration laboratory or internal calibration department, and the results are returned to the system following calibration.
The Audit Management module is used extensively in its standard form and should be kept as simple as possible. The module is used to manage and capture internal audits in accordance with German Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA) 6.3, external and supplier audits, cargo securing, occupational safety audits and environmental protection audits.
The template for the second phase of the roll-out was comprised of the Advanced Product Quality Planning (APQP) module; including the production control plan, process flowchart and failure mode and effects analysis (FMEA).
All new projects are set up in the APQP module at GF Automotive. This enables constant monitoring of the project status, including the process and control plans.
The implementation of internal project standards requires the use of standardized checklists, which are identical for all projects in all plants. Quality gates are defined for the measurement of project milestones. Project reporting is also installed.
GF Automotive works with product and process FMEAs, and with design FMEAs in R&D. This differentiation enables the execution of risk analyses at both individual part and process levels.
An FMEA is created for every product within the scope of a project. This is based on the master FMEA, which is linked to individual products. Design and process changes therefore take immediate effect on the respective FMEAs.
In the third phase of the roll-out the template was used for the in-process, incoming goods and first sampling inspections.
The Inspection Plan Management module is a core element of the quality management solution. GF Automotive has three options for creating inspection plans: They can be created manually; originate from the measuring program, which is predominantly the case for dimension inspections; or the graphical inspection planning option integrated in Opcenter can be used.
The Statistical Process Control (SPC) and the Incoming Goods Control modules are used for part inspection and special inspection plans.
As a series manufacturer, GF Automotive uses continuous inspection orders to capture and evaluate results. Individual inspection orders are only used for certain process steps requiring the capture of batch information, for example, in the foundry.
With the linkage of measuring devices, data acquisition in the in-process inspection is carried out on both a manual and automatic basis. This involves the execution of:
The Statistical Process Control module enables control of optimal production processes. Disruptions can be detected at an early stage; their causes removed and production processes optimized, thus establishing the prerequisites for zero-defect production.
The incoming goods inspection supports the quality monitoring of purchased parts and raw materials. This primarily involves examining materials and raw materials (for example, spectral analysis) and attributive okay (OK)/not okay (NOK) inspections (gage inspections, measuring lab inspections). The inspection results are derived from random samples and dynamic sampling procedures that form the basis of the supplier assessment.
GF Automotive uses a bi-directional interface with the SAP ERP/PPC system for its incoming goods and supplier assessment requirements. Information on deadline and quantity reliability is sent from SAP and quality data from the Opcenter system. The incoming goods inspection results are sent back to SAP.
To support and further develop its competencies in China and remain a preferred partner of Chinese original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), the executive level resolved to roll out the program in the GF Automotive plants in Suzhou, China and Kunshan, China in 2012. The Suzhou plant specializes in the manufacture of magnesium and aluminum die castings for the automotive industry, and the plant in Kunshan manufactures cast iron components.
All Opcenter modules were successfully implemented at both plants and went operative within just nine months in 2013.
Right from the start, users enthusiastically accepted the site because a Chinese user interface enabled them to use all the applications. Siemens Digital Industries Software provided training sessions in Chinese, which were well received.
Using Opcenter Quality increases transparency within the company and enhances the communication of experiences on a plantindependent basis. Using the Opcenter Quality system supports the optimization of the complete product lifecycle.
In standardized processes, all relevant data is monitored and managed by the respective employees. This considerably simplifies the data tracking process and facilitates reduced reaction times.
The software also supports GF Automotive in achieving its cross-company quality standards.
Success factors in the implementation of the Siemens Digital Industries Software’s quality management solution at GF Automotive included:
“The introduction of Opcenter Quality has enabled us to increase the transparency of quality management at Georg Fischer,“ says Michael Edbauer, head of quality management and logistics at GF Automotive. “Following implementation of the individual modules and monitoring of the corrective actions put in place, we saw an increase in customer satisfaction.”