This year, the Viessmann Group will be 100 years old. A reason to celebrate, because the leadership in Allendorf (Eder) is firmly focused on further development. Viessmann is an international leader in the manufacture of heating, industrial, and cooling systems. It is safe to say they are a leading technology company, because their products have signaled milestone after milestone in the heating industry across the decades. Now a large investment programme in electronics manufacturing has been successfully completed after a five-year run.
Energy efficiency is one of the topics that has had great significance at Viessmann for a long time already. As early as ten years ago, a programme was started in Allendorf to increase energy efficiency – and it was a success. Consistent analysis and the courage to change have garnered three prizes in the German Sustainability Awards, in 2009, 2011 and 2013. The German federal government goals in energy and climate for the year 2050 – 80 % reduction in CO2 output and a 60 % proportion of energy from renewable sources – were already reached by the company in 2013. The company is even using “Etanomics” to help accelerate “Energy Management” as a consulting topic and is helping other companies to implement sustainable energy concepts. The experts have clearly demonstrated that it is possible with the means currently available.
Forward-looking corporate philosophy
The group of companies currently employs 11,600 staff members in 74 countries worldwide, with 120 branches and 22 manufacturing companies. 4,300 employees work at the headquarters in Allendorf (Eder). The company is one of three globally leading companies when it comes to heating technology. Export figures have already exceeded 55 %, with rising tendency. Europe, and especially Germany, is the strongest sales market, but global growth is significant.
As part of the sustainability strategy, energy efficiency in the company is continually being increased. Of course this means all components of manufacturing are constantly examined. For example, in 2012 we even tested the soldering systems in use for ten years – four V8 Reflow soldering systems from Rehm Thermal – at a location where 200 employees work in a three-shift operation. The systems were tested against the general parameters of electronics manufacturing, which have significantly changed in recent years – and of course also against the Viessmann Group’s dynamic portfolio.
Development in the electronics industry has accelerated greatly. More component varieties on the market, more product varieties in the product range of the company, and shorter life cycles for the products between two and five years, all require manufacturers to have the ability to adjust to constant change. Long-running series must give way to smaller batch sizes. And this should happen quickly so that no production time is lost. The average batch size today is between 100 and 200 items. Production is characterised by “high mix low volume” and is quite challenging due to the necessary flexibility and smaller batches.
So it made sense to swap the four SMD lines – the V8 Rehm soldering systems – for a set of four identical Reflow systems. This means we are flexible in our planning and able to organise each line according to available capacities, since all processes can be reproduced and quickly implemented on the other machines. The new systems also had to meet the high quality standards of Viessmann’s engineers and be able to manufacture prototypes as well as serial production.
Decision assures long-term success
Prior to deciding on a manufacturer, we carried out thorough market research and analysis. Which system would satisfy the requirements with regard to quality and precision?
Individual components are becoming smaller and smaller, innovation cycles shorter and shorter, and requirements for automatic placement machines and soldering systems grow higher and higher. The machines must be able to adjust quickly and comfortably. Which machine fits into the production process and can keep up with the required cycle times? And for Viessmann, another important question: which machine fits into the company’s energy efficiency concept?
After thorough research, market comparisons, benchmarks and tests, we finally came back to a machine from Rehm Thermal Systems from Blaubeuren near Ulm. Rehm also works on the basis of a self-imposed energy efficiency and sustainability concept, developing its own machines with a focus on this orientation. The shortlist included the new Reflow soldering system VisionXP+. Compared to the V8 system, the data is astounding.
Electronics manufacturing hit its limits with cycle times on the V8. With the VisionXP+, cycle times under 25 seconds are well able to be attained. This means it is possible to reduce cycle times by 20 %. Besides this, the required energy (power, N2) and emissions (residue, noise) were expected to reduce by 20 %.
Thanks to the development of a new type of pyrolysis technology for cleansing the residue, the maintenance costs for the processing chamber can even be reduced by 50 %. With sustainability in mind, it is also important that Rehm gives a replacement parts guarantee of ten years for the VisionXP+. This means that replacement parts for repairs and maintenance are available from the manufacturer to cover the entire scope of intended use – giving planning security that is not to be underestimated. The VisionXP+ works at the cutting edge of technology, which also speaks in favour of an efficient changeover.
Compared to the V8, which had a length of 5.6 meters, the VisionXP+ was introduced by Rehm as a system measuring 6.7 meters, with modern technology, a longer cooling section, and new pyrolysis technology, satisfying the requirements of the current market – and based on Viessmann’s Technology Roadmap Requirements, it will continue to do so.
The complex development of this convection soldering system was supported by the German Environmental Foundation. In the Rehm Technology Centre in Blaubeuren, intensive testing and measuring were carried out to improve processes. Now, the vacuum chambers and pyrolysis technology deliver optimum results.
The investment project began in 2012 and benchmarks were compared from all market providers for the components of an SMD system. From each segment there remained three potential partners, with whom we ran further tests. Test production began with one of the most complex real serial boards from Viessmann’s product range. At the end of the extensive process, criteria such as supplier/manufacturer assessment, technology, energy efficiency, cost and quality were again assessed and weighted. In the end, the VisionXP+ was the clear winner.
Now the entire changeover has been completed. The individual lines were replaced in an annual cycle and now the fourth system has been set up, tested and handed over. Project manager Olaf Eisele from Viessmann Elektronik GmbH is happy that Rehm systems were chosen. “In the past, we already had good experiences with Rehm’s quality and service. Now we can go on in the same way.” During significant project phases, a team of experts from Rehm Thermal Systems was on location in Allendorf to monitor and support each step. There were often only two days between dismantling an old machine and starting up a new one. Production processes were to be disturbed as little as possible.
“It was an enormous logistical challenge to prepare the locations for the machines with all the supply lines and connections, and then to integrate the machines into the SMD lines so that everything fit in – without interrupting production. But we did it.” Michael Hanke, Chief Customer Officer of the Rehm Group, is very satisfied with the successful project.
The Viessmann Group aims at continual improvement of energy efficiency in manufacturing. The new VisionXP+ machines will contribute to implementing this.
SMT Hybrid Packaging, Booth 4A-100