What are the challenges facing the mechanical engineering sector? How have requirements changed?
There is one constant in specialist mechanical engineering – customers have a very specific problem and need a solution that will fulfil their task. Unlike in the computer sector, it isn’t about developing 50 new functions, but rather finding one ideal solution that will deliver maximum reliability every day. Providing top quality and meeting specifications are the foremost considerations. Requirements for performance efficiency, integration and delivery times have changed, and it has become hugely popular to link up individual components or assemblies with an overarching system. It’s important for our customers that all components can be integrated in a flexible and straightforward way, particularly since we are rarely starting from scratch. Companies often use a whole range of automated processes, and state-of-the-art specialist engineering has to fit in with that – it can’t stand on its own as a completely separate piece of machinery, as it did in the past. A holistic design concept and a product with unlimited technical functionality are key requirements and mean that we, in our role as a service provider, need to work very closely with the customer to analyse the production environment as a whole.
Has complexity increased?
Yes. You have to view specialist machines as part of an overall process landscape. What’s more, new machinery is expected to meet very high efficiency standards. The first wave of automation brought huge advances in productivity and it isn’t easy to keep on raising this productivity. Fortunately, we love challenges like these. Unfortunately, however, we have less and less time to tackle them, because our customers want their new solutions as soon as possible.
How do you respond to that? How do you build increasingly complex solutions in ever shorter timeframes without compromising on quality?
We approach the problem the same way as our customers – by working with skilled partners who can supply high-quality solutions in a very short space of time. Our expertise relies on that and that is how everyone helps to achieve optimum added value.
How does that work in practical terms?
We use the tried-and-tested building kit systems from item. They offer a huge range of components for a wide variety of uses that the designer can integrate into his application quickly and efficiently. They give the overall system a high-quality and uniform look and the quality is just right. Our customers can see that for themselves in their day-to-day work. What’s more, as long-standing users, we also benefit from the efficient principle of the building kit system. If new solutions are added or a customer requests a special function, we can integrate that quickly and easily into a pre-existing base.
You are a specialist engineering company, so why don’t you develop the individual components yourself?
That wouldn’t be cost-effective. The effort and expense that would have to go into developing those components would be far too great, and it would take too long. Our customers wouldn’t accept that. They want performance, quality and short delivery times. And a building kit system that embodies precisely these qualities ensures that we can meet these requirements. We have been working with item for many years and have great confidence in the quality of its products and the skills of its workforce. That gives us the confidence that we can meet the usually very complex requirements of our customers to the best standard possible.
A strong partner like item offers us two further advantages. Firstly, fast response times, regardless of whether we need a component here in Friedberg or while on-site with our customer just around the corner or in another country. The second advantage is the holistic development work. The item building kit systems are getting even better as new components and solutions are added. Products are being developed in more application areas, which means that we can actively shape the mechanical engineering of tomorrow.
Do you have an example?
The new Linear Units are a good example. Automation using driven axes is a very individual affair. If you look at parameters such as length, installation position and overall integration, you won’t find two makes of machine that use the same unit. Due to a whole range of requirements that are tied in with the subsequent system and environment, every application requires a specially modified linear unit. Thanks to its large range of ready-to-install Linear Units, item can cover a wide spectrum of the requirements that our mechanical engineering customers bring to us. These are custom solutions with the added benefits of a holistic system. I often find myself designing and integrating linear units and engineering functional assemblies. I really appreciate being able to select assemblies quickly through item’s website. The intelligent Product Finder helps me pick out the perfect Linear Units based on a few parameters such as load-carrying capacity, travel range, and so on. The online tools take me directly to the solution without me having to browse through and compare catalogues. That saves a lot of time and effort and makes sure I get all the information I need for our work.
What are the benefits for you and your customers?
As I said, customers want tailor-made quality in next to no time. If we can complete our planning work faster, that benefits everyone. Due to the wide selection, I can find everything I need in terms of design, processing and engineering. We save even more time because the Linear Units are pre-assembled – we don’t take delivery of separate parts, but rather a Linear Unit that is ready to work straight away. Naturally, the time we gain during the selection and ordering process and when commissioning the system is passed on to our customers, who value us because we can deliver high-quality solutions quickly.
Moreover, because the Linear Units are part of a building kit system, our customers can link them and their immediate environment to a huge variety of specialist components. From my own point of view, service life is a critical factor. Our customers rely on W&W and trust that everything will work as it should, and we know that we can rely on item.
W&W GmbH in Friedberg:
Engineer Paul Roskosch is a project manager and design engineer at W&W GmbH in Friedberg. W&W GmbH has been operating as a service provider in the German and international mechanical engineering sector and general industry for 13 years. The company manufactures a wide range of specialist machinery for production operations. Its wide-ranging experience in a whole variety of areas has helped it become a leading company in the engineering of specialist machinery. Customers benefit from project management, design, engineering, production and assembly – all from a single source.
Further information is available on the W&W GmbH website:
You can find out more about the item Automation System at: www.item24.de/en/products/product-catalogue/products/1001303273.html