The magazine of Friedhelm Loh Group

The magazine of Friedhelm Loh Group

Schubs GmbH
Experience – Engineering

Think digitally

What can a business like Schubs Gmbh, with a workforce of 80, do to tackle the shortage of skilled workers in switchgear production? Adopt a refreshingly smart outlook that helps to transform production on a digital basis.

Text Ulrich Kläsener and Hans-Robert Koch ––– Photography

When you find there are absolutely no members of staff available with the necessary experience, suitable training and appropriate technical expertise, the most important thing to do is not actually to find new people, but to fill that skills gap. It sounds so obvious, but this elementary point is often overlooked. That was not the case in Hamelin at Schubs GmbH.

Axel Schulz, Managing Director of Schubs GmbH, dissected the manufacturing process and compared what was needed – error-free assembly in line with set cycle times at competitive costs – with the options available to him. Responsibility for the working process and zero-error strategy, at least in contract manufacturing, now no longer lies with specialist skilled workers, but rather with semi-skilled staff from two workshops for people with disabilities. Digital assistance systems have been developed in house to give these workers vital support at key points. Fed with data from the Eplan platform and ERP system, which are used throughout the entire company, these assistance systems act as the “brain” of the production system and guide staff through the more complex manual assembly processes.

Mounting plates are configured with cable ducts, top-hat rails, support rails and other elements with the aid of ‘DAKoTA’, an acronym taken from the German for ‘digital co-worker technology workstation’. The digital documentation assistance system doesn’t use any paper documents and displays all key data such as project data, images and parts lists on a screen. Schubs also uses another visual assistance system known as ‘Moonshiner’ to speed up processes and dramatically minimise reject rates. While they work, staff can have the layout, parts list and even previously printed labels for the components projected onto the assembly worksurface. This is an ideal way to compare the actual assembly scenario with the digital plans to ensure the right components are positioned correctly.


with Axel Schulz, Managing Director Schubs GmbH

You are replacing skilled workers with a combination of digital assistance systems and semi-skilled workers who are taking a sideways step into new roles. Is that as easy as it sounds? That’s certainly the idea. However, we did of course have to invest a great deal of energy and all our expertise in planning and adapting the processes.

What in particular needs to be taken into account? Data consistency is an absolute must. That – along with the quality of the data – determines how all the individuals and systems involved in value creation work together.

CAE tools from Eplan, enclosures and climate control solutions from Rittal, digital assistance systems from Schubs. Is that a model for the future? I would say so. After all, we’ve used that combination to considerably improve our own business processes. These are solutions that are of interest to the entire switchgear production sector. We’ve built a dedicated business model on them.

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