The magazine of Friedhelm Loh Group

The magazine of Friedhelm Loh Group

Text Dr. Jörg Lantzsch und Hans-Robert Koch ––– Photography

Digital order processing

What is more, rather than issuing work orders in the form of paper job slips, Ripploh equips each of its employees with an iPad that provides them with all their jobs and the information they need. The enclosures, picked components and now also the magazines with the wires assembled using Wire Terminal are all provided with QR codes. 

Employees scan this code on their iPad and can then start the job. “This ensures the connection to the ERP system and the engineering department is constantly updated,” Ripploh explains, adding: “Staff can only begin wiring, for example, if the approved plans are available on the server.” On their screens, employees can see the routing paths for the wiring, among other things, This not only ensures high efficiency and speed; it also greatly reduces the likelihood of errors. Using a stylus, staff can enter changes – which can be necessary despite careful planning – directly into the PDF file of the circuit diagram on their iPad. This corresponds to the traditional redlining method, which involves marking changes on a printed circuit diagram in pen. Thanks to digitalization, however, it is now possible for any changes made to find their way back into the engineering workflow, thereby ensuring the finished enclosure and the updated circuit diagram are a perfect match.

By implementing automation and digitalization across the board, Ripploh has achieved a great deal. According to the company’s Managing Director: “Today, we can complete significantly more jobs than just a few years ago with the same number of staff.” This a crucial advantage, particularly given the lack of qualified skilled workers on the labour market. Since the workshop activities are now strictly laid down as a result of end-to-end digitalization, certain tasks can be entrusted to semi-skilled employees.

Ripploh believes that automation in panel building and switchgear manufacturing still has a long way to go. “The next step will probably be automated wiring.” Since the Wire Terminal places the processed wires into its storage unit in a defined sequence, it is conceivable that it could pass them on to a robot to carry out the wiring. “We are already working on this and are confident that in two years or so our wiring operations will be robot-assisted,” says Ripploh.

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