It was as early as 1893 that GEA Westfalia Separator manufactured and supplied the first milk separator. Today, the company is one of the world's most renowned equipment manufacturers with approximately 3500 employees.
As well as separators, the company, which has its headquarters in Oelde (Westphalia, Germany), also produces decanters and special products. The systems and devices are used for the mechanical clarification and separation of liquids for the foodstuff, chemical, pharmaceutical, biotechnology, energy, shipping and environmental engineering industries. Over 50 Sales and Service companies belong to the GEA Westfalia Separator Group and look after their customers on-site.
Quick availability and safeguarding of system operations
GEA customers expect a long service life from their systems and devices, and expect high quality from every individual component. However, they would like these to become operational as quickly as possible, and any modernization or maintenance work to be managed without down times. In order to achieve this, the company implemented the CONEXO RFID system solution in June 2017 after a test phase of only four months. During this process, the company focused on:
- Assignment without requesting tenders
- Direct warehouse availability
- Accelerated manufacturing at GEA
- Faster qualification within the factory
- Optimized maintenance processes
In close collaboration with inevvo solutions, GEA digitalized their systems and devices, and inventoried, or more specifically, synchronized all valves on the CONEXO portal and in the CONEXO app. As a result, previous expenditure on project-specific pricing is no longer required. In addition, valves are stored in the warehouse independently of their project, which necessitates fast availability. As the allocation of valves only occurs in the final assembly stages, the systems and devices can now be supplied at short notice.
Preventing assembly errors and simplifying qualification
The optimization of in-house processes was an integral objective of the digitalization project. However, plant reliability was not to be compromised under any circumstances, instead GEA customers should see a clear added value. André West, Project Manager at GEA Westfalia Separator noted: "The documentation and qualification of a system is as important for the end customer as the technology itself and uses a large part of the manufacturing time available." In particular, verification that all valves are installed in the correct places and the assignment of the correct certificates can sometimes be difficult and time-consuming. Thanks to the close cooperation and the further development of the CONEXO portal and the CONEXO app, GEA have now been able to reduce their expenditure on IQ documentation to one or two hours.
Service support and maintenance offerings
The next step will be for the company from Oelde to provide more support to their customers with assembly and maintenance operations. Using the RFID system solution from inevvo solutions, service personnel can follow step-by-step instructions in the CONEXO app, which can be used on any standard tablet or smartphone. The app can also store customer-specific safety information for maintenance and assembly, and confirm that individual steps have been performed by the relevant employee. Examples include:
- Installation of components
- Visual checks of components
- Replacement of components
- Photo documentation of the condition of removed parts