Innovative and flexible production solutions are in great demand in the rapidly growing Chinese car market. Production planners at Felss Rotaform China have adapted to this challenge – for instance with a production that deliberately dispenses with unnecessarily complicated automation solutions whilst at the same time, promotes the perfect training of employees. Even the quality benefits from this approach: In spite of the ever increasing production quantities, there are virtually no faulty parts.
James Madison, the Managing Director, summarizes the philosophy of Felss Rotaform China Ltd. very concisely: The Managing Director views "Economic Engineering" as a process control and planning that aligns perfectly with the needs of customers. "Anything superfluous is omitted. We only use what we need, thereby guaranteeing a lean and efficient process." Even the layout of the production sites pays into this philosophy, as Madison explains "We deliberately don’t have any transfer systems. The different systems are loaded by our 60 employees via feeders." – If one system malfunctions, the processes can be quickly changed and within a few hours a production step is moved to a different machine – much quicker than if fully interlinked systems were to be used. Even the production capacity at Felss Rotaform China is optimal in this case. Notedly over 90 % of the systems are permanently in use.
Know-how of employees guarantees quality
The fact that the open production situation has no effect whatsoever on the process reliability and quality of the manufactured steering spindles, Madison puts down to the high level of training of the employees who are mainly Chinese. "We have made a point of ensuring that production in China by and large doesn’t rely on German experts. Many Chinese employees were therefore in Germany and were given specific training on the systems at the Felss site in Königsbach-Stein." This process is also noticeable to this day where quality is concerned: One faulty part a month is about the most that might go wrong at Felss Rotaform China.
Tools to be reconditioned on site in the future
The next step is for Felss Rotaform in China to install two new rotary swaging systems and one axial forming press. Furthermore, the company will invest in its on site tool making know-how. Up to now, the necessary tools were not just manufactured in Germany. Even the reconditioning and reworking of the tool happened here. "This in part of course meant that there were significant delays because of the great distance. In future, this will no longer be the case. We will be able to manufacture sister tools and do the reconditioning at the Chinese site." The tools will nevertheless continue to be developed in Germany.
Production at Felss Rotaform China started in 2008. Today, several thousand car components a day are already being manufactured. – Were customers surprised that Felss Rotaform was able to establish this flexible production so quickly in China? "I don’t think so", says Madison. "Our partners in Europe know that the Felss Group companies are flexible and versatile. This is why you can be certain that we’ll soon be able to guarantee this quality in China as well."