At the site of a company with just over 5,000 employees at 8 production sites, individual parts for its own products are mainly manufactured. The site operates in 2-shift operation and is approaching the capacity limit. Production orders are strictly commercially awarded. Almost 80% of the orders are fulfilled internally, the rest is awarded to external manufacturing companies. The production equipment and work processes are modern. There are plenty of options for expanding operations at the site.


The company and site management are faced with the question of whether there is a more profitable alternative for the high investment in the expansion of premises and operating facilities or the increase in the multi-procurement rate. Increasing the debt allocation rate would be a flexible solution, but it would be at the expense of the margin. The spatial expansion of the site would be more profitable in the long run, but it burdens the company with a high investment effort and offers little flexibility when the economy cools down.


Extending 2-shift operations to 3-shift operations or even 24/7 production has not been an option in the past because the high compensation surcharges for night and weekend work would not have allowed profitable operations. However, with the help of bar loaders, linear and multi-axis robots, pallet racks and pallet carousels, check-in and check-out stations as well as modern pallet logistics, a profitable 24/7 production can be implemented. Although the investment is similar to a spatial expansion, the production capacity at the site can be almost doubled. The proportion of manual work is also decreasing, so that experienced and sought-after professionals can strengthen the area of assembly at a nearby location. In order to automate the upstream processes in addition to highly automated production and thus to ensure the necessary input in the form of machining programs, an MES solution is introduced. The organization of resources in the MES system and the close interlocking with CAM programming also enables flexible production utilization.


After management has committed to a rough solution strategy, a project team of the company has looked around the market for solution options. In addition to existing business partners, other providers of partial solutions were included in the selection. After providing extensive information on the solution options, the company has committed itself to commissioning a general contractor to coordinate the sub-solutions of external project partners for the overall solution. The general contractor was the previous main supplier of MTM machines.

Project method

The project was implemented with the waterfall method, especially because of the challenge of affecting the ongoing production operation as little as possible. Individual project partners had fixed time windows for the development and realization of the partial solutions.


Since the overall solution was not a standard solution that was implemented many times, there were extensive adaptation requirements, both in the development and in the realization, which no project partner could plan. These additional expenses have burdened both the budgets of both suppliers and customers. Schedules were regularly missed and additional expenses were renegotiated among the project partners. There was no possibility for the complete solution for a trial operation, because the existing machine park was busy and the solution was mainly realized with existing machines. The first stage of the conversion took place during the company holidays. The start-up did not work as planned. Among other things, the logistical capacities of pallet handling were inappropriately measured due to rescheduling during the project phase. The washing solutions in the machines did not meet the requirements for quality measurement and the post-processing processes based on it. Instead of the gradual retrieval of services, it was clear to all project partners at some point that constant cooperation was necessary. This constant cooperation was subsequently realized in an interdisciplinary project team, in which the knowledge necessary for the project could be constantly used for mutual coordination. In a further solution start, all project partners were available for the conversion and the overall solution was much better prepared than at the first start-up.


Project duration: 1.5 years (planned: 10 months)

Project team: 20 internal and external team members from 8 external project partners

Project budget: €18 million


The realization eventually became more expensive and took longer than planned. But the project goal was fully achieved and was the basis for further optimizations, such as the expansion of finishing in the MTM area or the optimization of processing times in the entire machining area. Due to the additional production capacity, the company has not only reduced the outsourcing rate, but also opened up an additional business area for other companies through contract manufacturing.

My employer

software manufacturer of the CAM system. As part of the project, the existing post processors were adapted to the requirements of the overall solution and additional post processors were created, delivered, retracted and removed.

My role

I identified the requirements and participated in the solution development, was part of the project team and in my sub-solution area the interfaces between other project partners and our specialists and developers. From my employer's point of view, I was an account and project manager.