The company with 300 employees manufactures injection moulds and follow-on composite tools in the weight range between 50 kg and 25 tons at 5 locations in Germany, the USA and China. The production sites operate in 2-shift operation. Pallet carousels used directly with the machines are used at all locations for the production of small tool components, so that these machines can be used in 3-shift operation. The finishing of large mold halves can also be carried out in 3-shift operation due to the long processing times. For ghost layers, process reliability is a high chip volume. The company already has fully automated sinker ingeroding systems with pallet magazines, which are already running in 3-shift operation due to the long processing times. In order to meet the high tolerance requirements, the extensive and high-quality machinery is constantly being modernised. Except for the purchase of normals, all orders are realized in-house in order to protect expert knowledge.


As the industry and the company are under considerable price and competitive pressure despite their technological leadership, investments in the form of buildings and machinery are to be exploited even better. Night and weekend work should be avoided as much as possible because of the high wage increases.


In addition to small parts and very large mold halves, individual parts in the medium weight range are also to be manufactured in 3-layer operation. For this purpose, two nearby locations are logistically restructured, so that only small parts are produced at one location and parts in the middle and upper weight range at the other location. Wire and sinker processing is concentrated at the site for small parts. Pallet warehouses with check-in and check-out stations as well as the delivery of the machines with conveyor systems and linear robotics are planned for all other locations. Pallets should be automatically fed to the machines for processing and picked up after processing. The planning and control is to be realized via an MES system.


After the management has decided on a solution strategy, a project team of the company looked around the market for solution options in the areas of palletizing and pallet logistics. After the suppliers developed a solution concept, the company commissioned the implementation for the first site. Apart from the logistical restructuring of machine stations, the ongoing operation was hardly affected during the implementation phase, as there was sufficient space to set up the solution.

Project method

The project was implemented using the milestone trend analysis and had only a rough determination of the chronological sequence.


It was clear to all project partners from the outset that it was not possible to set the implementation in time due to the need for flexibility on all sides. According to the company's philosophy, the project partners focused on the functional solution from the very beginning. All partners knew each other from previous projects and worked together in close coordination. The mutual requirements were clearly defined and implemented accordingly. The technological challenge was the high maximum weight of the pallets to be moved. After the implementation of the infrastructure and implementation of the software, one machine after another was included in the cycle. In the course of commissioning, deficiencies in the area of hardware and software were identified and corrected by the project partners. One machine after another was available for commissioning. Since the project team has been involved in capacity planning from the very beginning, the loading and unloading stations on the intermediate buffering machines have been sufficiently large. Automated delivery correction for follow-up processing procedures was implemented using measurement measures in the process (measuring in the milling machine), tool measurement in the machine and the use of sister tools only for roughing operations. For finishing operations, the generous use of sister tools, manual washing processes and measuring machines was used. After the solution was kept in an acceptable clean run, two additional sites in the USA and China were realized with relatively little adjustment effort.


Project duration: 6 months (for the first site)

Project team: 15 internal and external team members from 7 external project partners

Project budget: € 2 million (for the first site)


Both the expectations of the company and the project partners were realistic from the beginning. Apart from a few personal meetings on site at the company, the collaboration was mainly by telephone and e-mail. With the exception of a few small details, all project objectives of the customer were achieved. The company is now able to use all machines in 3-shift operation and now even manufactures some of the normals in order to optimally utilize the production capacities.

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. In the CAM system, additional attributes were created for PMIs (product management information) whose values were further processed in the output programs in the MES system. In the course of the project, the paper content (shop docs) was almost dissolved by the use of the MES system.

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.