Interview with Wolfgang Bonatz, Managing Director and CEO ACCRETECH (Europe) GmbH
Developments in series production lead to new requirements in quality assurance. We talked to our managing director and CEO Wolfgang Bonatz about these trends.
What trends do you currently see in Quality Assurance?
Series production today is characterised by an increasing number of options in response to individual customer requirements and the growing product complexity that accompanies it. This has a considerable impact on processes in production and production control and, consequently, on quality assurance as well. In this regard, the progressive development in measuring technology supports many quality assurance efforts and opens up new possibilities.
Automation is also advancing in measuring technology, and with it comes the networking of data, information and systems. Quality assurance and error handling are becoming increasingly automated and documented, which will lead to an expansion of the database (keyword “big data”).
Quality assurance in manufacturing is another important issue for the future. In addition to the common test procedures on the finished product, it is essential that each process step in additive manufacturing be accompanied by appropriate quality assurance measures. This means that it is possible to detect and regulate even minor fluctuations in the production process.
Currently, “worker self-testing” remains, i.e. quality assurance is being shifted from the measuring laboratory to production. For this reason, easy operability of the measurement systems is becoming ever more important to ensure that even “non-experts” are able to operate them.
And as the environment has a direct influence on the measurement result, the systems have to absorb the sometimes harsh conditions in production – including vibrations, sound, and temperature fluctuations.
What role will quality assurance play in the digital factory?
In future, we need to consider how we can take a step further from the digital factory to the smart factory, that is towards operating and optimising the factory in real time. A smart factory organises itself: the workpieces and machines communicate with each other and form a closed circuit. The measuring systems are therefore integrated in the production chain, which is the only way to detect and correct production errors in good time. A one hundred percent quality inspection of the workpieces is particularly important in medical technology and in aerospace engineering.
System-side traceability of production process data and quality data makes it possible to establish automated cause and effect analyses. In turn, the documented quality data can be used in product development. Using ZEISS PiWeb, analyses of our ACCTee software can be archived as dynamic measurement reports and statistical trend analyses, for example. This grants employees from measuring technology, production and quality management easy access to all measurement reports, at any time and from any location. A further example of how our long-standing cooperation with ZEISS enables us to offer our customers sustainable solutions.
On another note, data security will also have a greater role to play in the digital factory. Given the networking and the direct influence on the production process, it is imperative to protect the systems against hacker access.
Automation of the processes requires the highest degree of precision from the measuring systems. Relocating to production exposes measuring instruments to harsh environmental influences such as ground vibrations, dusty or oily air as well as high and changing temperatures. The influence of environmental factors must be absorbed on the system side, e.g. via specially developed vibration tables and a high degree of rigidity in the measuring system, as we use them in our SURFCOM NEX series.
ACCRETECH was founded in Tokyo in 1949 and is now one of the world’s leading providers of products for precision measuring equipment and of the most modern equipment for the semiconductor industry. ACCRETECH has been established on the European market since 1989 and now benefits from a comprehensive sales and service network.