Solutions for the global market

HELLER’s global locations are becoming ever more closely linked. A project with Ford in America proves how coordinated the global value-creation network is operating. For its new 6F15 6-speed automatic transmission, the vehicle manufacturer draws on HELLER’s project and process competence.

Specific projects prove that the HELLER locations are increasingly acting as a team. “The so-called 6F15 Project clearly demonstrates how well the HELLER production facilities around the globe are coordinated and bringing everything together,” says Patrick Rimlinger. According to the Managing Director and Head of the Production Network, it is “absolutely remarkable” how closely linked and coordinated the individual locations are cooperating to turn this large contract from the Ford Transmission Plant in Mexico into a success.

The obvious solution for Ford Mexico would have been to place the order for the project with HELLER USA. However, not the complete scope of the contract was in US dollars, a large portion of it was bought in Euros and partly ordered directly from HELLER Germany. “The turnkey project comprises the Transmission Case, Converter Housing and Valve Body,” explains Patrick Rimlinger, adding that the order was for a total volume of 62 machines model MC 20 plus application, automation and third-party machinery.

Usually, HELLER USA focuses on the application and only assembles a part of the related machinery. Due to very high capacity utilisation at HELLER Germany with the production of the MC 20 machines, the question was whether it would be possible to process the order directly in America, including assembly at the local facilities. This would kill two birds with one stone: minimising the currency risk and achieving optimal capacity utilisation across several locations. So why not converge HELLER’s global value-creation chains for the 6F15 Project in the US?

Simply because this is easier said than done and much had to be organised in terms of logistics, machine production and application. Therefore Patrick Rimlinger is satisfied that so many departments, divisions and managers at the various HELLER locations involved invested energy and effort in planning and implementing the project. He says he is proud “that our Global Logistics work so well and that we have been able to set up a flowline assembly similar to the one in Germany with relatively modest resources.”

Supplier parts came from all over the world

To illustrate the term ‘global logistics’, Patrick Rimlinger explains that finish-machined machine beds and columns are supplied from the plant in Brazil, whilst ready-assembled spindle units, tool magazines, rotary tables and control cabinets are delivered from Nürtingen. Safety guards and other sheet-metal parts and components are sourced locally from suppliers in the USA and Canada. Rimlinger explains: “The components for the Ford manufacturing line were delivered to HELLER USA from various parts of the world.”

A number of obstacles had to be overcome to realise the Ford project in its entirety. In terms of logistics this included the assembly-friendly provisioning of components to the flowline, identical and optimal packaging of materials and deliveries consistently free from missing parts. Another one was proper timing: starting in March 2015, one machine per week had to be assembled over a period of 18 months. Therefore all processes and components had to be coordinated just in time within the HELLER Group.

Start of production at Ford is scheduled for May 2017. If everything continues to run like clockwork, Patrick Rimlinger is confident that the SOP will go ahead on time. “Cooperation of colleagues from Brazil, the US, Mexico and Germany is excellent,” says Rimlinger. He expressly gives high praise to the German team, such as Central Planning, whose people have worked closely with Global Logistics in coordinating this effort. No matter if it is Sub-assembly and Control Cabinet Installation, Manufacturing, Project Management or Engineering: all departments involved acted in concert, but also coordination with external logistics providers has worked very well.

According to Rimlinger it is not without reason that team play worked so well. “In recent years, we have set the course to achieve a significantly improved capacity utilisation within the HELLER Group,” says the Mechanical Engineer. The global value creation network has now proven its viability. To Rimlinger Ford’s 6F15 Project is the ideal model for future logistics and project processes. It is planned, to make the logistics of the 6F15 Project a standard for the supply to the HELLER Group’s production facilities.

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