Three shifts – only one manned
A Report by Erowa AG
Focusing on a demanding market, consistent automation
and intensified digitalization: this is the recipe for success, which is behind the impressive growth of the Dutch company IGS GeboJagema. EROWA has been on board as a partner for more than 30 years, starting with the ITS Tooling system.
It is well-known that tool- and mold-making is a fiercely contested market. IGS GeboJagema concentrates on the three focal areas of healthcare, optics and medical packaging. “In these markets, we successfully operate as full service providers,” says Hans Arts, the company’s Sales Director. “We offer considerable engineering power with a lot of experience as well as insourcing with innovative tool design and solutions.” The products range from small injection molds with low cavitation to complex multi-cavity injection molds. In 2018, the company produced a total of more than 300 molds with a total of 96 employees.
“Although the medical market is extremely demanding and quality-oriented, it’s less sensitive to prices,” explains Hans Arts. “In addition, our pharmaceutical customers’ development costs and processes are sometimes very long, which means that in the long term, great value is attached to the relationship between customer and toolmaker. And we benefit from this.”
There are three additional features, which ensured IGS GeboJagema’s good position in the market, says Hans Arts: “One thing is the fact that Industry 4.0 is living practice with us. Besides EROWA’s workpiece clamping systems, which ensure the flexible and precise use of the workpiece carriers throughout the manufacturing process, the JMS 4.0 is now one of the pillars of our operation. Also, we work completely paperless. And last but not least; our in-house engineering experience for innovative mold design and solutions gives us the edge over many competitors.”
“In addition, we’re proud of our great deal of know-how and many years of experience in strict tool validation,” Hans Arts continues. “We check and test and ensure that the injection-molding tool that we’ve produced does indeed fulfil the task for which it is intended. Whatever leaves our production line can be put to use at once. This resulting in positioning IGS GeboJagema as top tool supplier to healthcare OEMs”.
IGS GeboJagema also opted for automation at an early stage. „This is the merit of our CEO, Peter Mertens“, explains Hans Arts. „He realized early on that the only possibility for us to remain competitive in our market was to offer high-quality, high-precision molds, produced in the most efficient waypossible – and this meant equipping the company with the most progressive technologies and machines there are.“ This also included robots from EROWA at an early juncture: with Charmilles EDM since 1996, and with a complete EROWA FMC concept-tooling/preset/automation/JMS package since 1999. Peter Mertens is still personally involved in the selection of robots and machines.
In addition to automated EDM/WEDM and electrode milling, the successful technology of milling hardened
steel with Makino 3-axis machines and EROWA’s Robot Easy within a few microns’ accuracy started in 2010
and has resulted in seven equal cells.
This also led to one of the most recent purchases, the latest 5-axis model of the successful D series of Makino, the D200Z. “It fits our 4.0 standards and provides more speed, precision and flexibility,” says Hans Arts. “Our expectations of the machine were very high, and when it was in operation, we were completely convinced that we’d made the right choice. By now we’ve already got four of them.”
“Two machines are served by one EROWA Robot Compact 80 at a time.” Typical fields of application include 5-axis milling, high-precision milling, machining with solid carbide cutters, the machining of mirror surfaces, and electrode production. In a nutshell: the best surface quality and the highest precision in five axes. “Also, the datum point tooling system is integrated in the tables. This results in a reduction of set-up times and of overall machining time.”
With the new Makino machines, machining processes are feasible which were hardly imaginable before. Least of which include milling processes which would previously have required additional EDM or grinding work. This is not only more economical, but above all faster. “And together with the EROWA Robots, we’re extremely efficient,” Hans Arts continues. “We run three shifts for 24 hours on EDM-WEDM-Electrode Milling as well as hardened and soft steel milling, seven days a week, but only the day-shift is manned!” In addition, this also counters the lack of specialist staff: “We program offline. The operators are skilled but do not need any more detailed process knowledge in order to be able to operate the cells. Instead they can be more quality oriented”. The modern CNC machines also reduced the number of machining modes to a considerable extent. Since a sizeable number of EROWA Robots along with EROWA CMM s and the EROWA Process Control systems are in operation throughout the plant, automation is tantamount to a substantial gain: “The number of machining hours doubled, turnover tripled – but the number of toolmakers has remained virtually the same!”
The company was established in Tilburg in the Netherlands in 1945. In the beginning, it produced instruments, tools and dies. After various mergers, and particularly since the acquisition of HTP Tooling combined with the move to Eindhoven in 2011, IGS GeboJagema has focused on tools and molds for the medical market. IGS GeboJagema has registered an impressive growth since 2011. 90 % of its production is exported.
The company is managed by Peter Mertens, who started his career on IGS GeboJagema’s shop floor and thus knows tool- and mold-making inside out. The consistent strategy pushes automation and digitalization.
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