Ruf Maschinenbau GmbH & Co. KG

Engine part production department of MAN Diesel improves its productivity - Case Study


Courtesy of Ruf Maschinenbau GmbH & Co. KG

RUF briquetting presses contribute to the success

The powerful ship engines and power generators of the MAN Diesel Group are renowned for their reliability all over the world. Given the full order books, the future of the company looks very bright. To cater for the continued growth, the company is extending is production facilities in Germany on an on-going basis, thus further increasing its productivity. The engine part production plant at the company's headquarters in Augsburg, Germany, is proud of its highly motivated workforce and modern machinery. An integral part of its production equipment are the briquetting systems of Ruf GmbH & Co. KG.

After the highly successful business year of 2006, with a turnover of more than € 1.8 billion and a workforce of 6800, the MAN Diesel Group improved its performance in 2007: At the end of the year, the company employed around 7300 people, and its sales rose to € 2.179 billion. Nearly half the workforce is employed at the main plant in Augsburg. Although wages and social contributions costs in Germany are considerable, the group still values southern Germany as a manufacturing base. This is well illustrated by the engine parts production division headed by Jürgen Schönberger. According to Schönberger, a highly skilled, motivated and flexible workforce is the key to success (see box). 'In our production workshops, up to 90 percent of all workers are trained specialist technicians. As we produce only small series, workers must be able to tackle new challenges on a daily basis,' says Schönberger.

The target of an increase in productivity by 20 percent set in 2005 was reached within only two years. Apart from a motivated team, Jürgen Schönberger has identified another success factor, namely modern production machines. In his division alone, there are about 100 production units in operation, of which around 60 are CNC-controlled. They are used for the machining of a range of metals and alloys, including aluminium, various steel grades and cast iron. 'When purchasing a new machine, we always draw up a requirement specification that must be met by the supplier. One key element is thereby a maximum pay-back time of two years,' explains the Schönberger.

RUF briquetting system pay for themselves in no time

These requirements applied of course also when the RUF briquetting systems were purchased in 2003 and 2005 respectively. Jürgen Schönberger remembers: 'At the time, I was not directly involved in the purchase of the two machines. From our experience to date, I can however confirm that my predecessor made and excellent choice. The two briquetting units had paid for themselves within about 18 months. There have not been any significant problems, as none were ever brought to my attention.' The foreman in charge of the RUF machines Wilhelm Merktle confirms this: 'The machines run exactly as we expected - without any problems whatsoever.'

The latest acquisition is the RUF 15 unit attached to a large-scale vertical machining centre where heavy-weight grey cast cylinders are milled. The chips are transferred by a conveyor belt to the collecting bin of the briquetting press. Particularly large volumes of chips are produced during the roughing, while less material is removed during the finishing process. To ensure that the briquetting unit is always operated at optimum load, cast chips from other milling and turning centres are added to the abraded particles, if necessary.

The chips drop from the collecting bin into the press cylinder operated by a 15 kW hydraulic unit that generates a pressure of more than 3700 kg/cm². The RUF briquetting unit thereby processes up to 750 kg of cast chips per hour, producing briquettes that are easy to handle. 'The briquettes are about 10 cm in diameter and length and weigh roughly six to seven kilograms each. This is just the right size and weight for further processing,' explains Wilhelm Merktle. 'They can be easily transferred to the foundry, where they are taken up with magnets and lowered into the melting crucible. As magnets cannot be used to transport loose metal chips, we can save time and money by first compacting the material into briquettes.'

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