Fan manufacturer Ziehl-Abegg has broadened its manufacturing base and further developed its production to meet the requirements of Industry 4.0.
The total cost for the new building in the Hohenlohe Industrial Park and for taking plastics production in-house, is $A28 million.
With the manufacture of fans made of a special plastic, the company is focusing on a new type of integrated quality assurance, reducing the error rate down towards zero.
Design engineers are putting bionic approaches into practice in order to improve aerodynamics. However, implementing these optimized forms in series production poses a major challenge, according to Ziehl-Abegg CEO, Peter Fenkl.
“We are using such complex injection moulding technology that the cost for one single tool alone is half a million euros,"he said.
A decade of experience gained from suppliers manufacturing fans made from plastic on behalf of Ziehl-Abegg have been incorporated into the new plants.
“The key feature is that the injection moulding machines already monitor important process parameters during production, ruling out the possibility of faulty products,” Fenkl said.
“The move into the field of plastics technology will benefit our customers. This is because we will now be manufacturing our own fans made of aluminium as well as steel and plastic.
“We have brought added value in-house which will allow each engineer to determine which material is best suited to the customer's application."
“We now have all three technologies at our disposal in-house setting us apart from our competitors.”
Many fans that were previously made of steel or aluminium, have been replaced by plastic, a thermoplastic fibre composite material known as ZAmid which was developed by Ziehl-Abegg.
The material is much lighter than steel but allows fans to rotate at a speed of 250 kilometres per hour in continuous operation; the plastic fans are tested at speeds of up to 500 kilometres per hour.
“We will continue to expand the potential of plastics for lightweight construction to the benefit of our customers,” Fenkl said.
“The reason for this is that many geometries which are aerodynamically ideal can simply not be realised in steel or aluminium.”
With a total investment of five million euros for machines and tools, six new jobs have been created so far in the field of plastics production.
Overall, the number of employees at Ziehl-Abegg in the Hohenlohe Industrial Park has risen from 480 to 770.