"I call this Supply Chain 4.0."

The objective of the incoming goods solution, which the Swiss EMS service provider Vosch Electronic developed together with CompControl. CEO Uwe Frech reports on what this means in concrete terms, why orders can now be processed with more flexibility and why the company owner no longer grins.

Mr. Frech, you have worked together with CompControl to implement a complete automatization. What does this exactly mean?

With Christoph Limpert, we have built something that is certainly unique in the industry: a full-trace solution from the manufacturer to our finished product. For our client, we can now tell exactly where which component was equipped on which circuit board and at which time. I call this Supply Chain 4.0.

What does this solution actually look like?

The basis is the incoming goods table by CompControl communicating with the storage system. Above we have a complete logistics concept which has been
newly developed, so that it is not included as a standard in the offer of CompControl. The pick-andplace machines are also integrated into this system. This is because they already provide a relatively large amount of information about which component is equipped on which circuit board. Conversely, the automatic equipping machines also request data from the storage system in advance. For example: Is the required component available? Where is it? Has it even been delivered yet? CompControl has managed the whole communication with its software. And the awesome aspect is that the ERP system is also connected.

What’s so special about that?

It may be hard to believe, but Vosch works with a very old ERP system. In concrete terms, Vosch works with a system dating from 1999.

And what does its link to incoming goods bring about?

If a roll arrives from a supplier at the incoming goods table and is then scanned, the corresponding purchase order can also be posted immediately. At that point we know that the goods are there, and we are able to trigger the invoice process.

What was the reason why such a solution was introduced?

We had noticed that we had lost a relatively large amount of money in the field of logistics. The information on the goods was missing. Where is this information? Is this information already with us? And so on. In addition, we were not able to say on which board a component has been equipped. I  some from of the post-automation. It goes without saying that you know where a letter comes from and where it is addressed to. That is precisely the reason why, eight years ago, we had already been working on implementing a corresponding system. However, this could not be achieved with the warehouse and automation suppliers of the time. With Christoph Limpert and his team, we were able to implement it.

How much time did the whole project take? 

It took two years from the starting shot to the Go Live. 

And have you achieved the traceability which was your project objective?

Yes, but that isn’t the only thing. The set-up of the machine has also been optimised. For we equip 13 million components a year. And as a rather small EMS service provider with a line, we retrofit on average five times daily. For this reason, it was particularly important for us to be able to retrofit as quickly as possible with as little effort as possible. And for this purpose, we need to know whether the goods are available and whether they are located on the machine, in the storage system or elsewhere.

Which kind of effect does this have on Vosch?

We have become even more flexible. If, for example, a component is not delivered in the morning, we can react relatively quickly, we can upgrade the machine and execute an order that was actually planned for a later stage. Then the storage system automatically outputs the rollers in the order, in which the machines must be fed. In the past, our employees who are responsible for the feeders of the machines had to remove the rollers manually. 

Does this mean that were able to increase productivity?

Thanks to this solution, we have doubled the productivity within the production. At the beginning we said to each other: If things go really well, we will achieve a return on investment after a term of five years. Now we assume that we can do it within two and a half to three years. Our board of directors and owners no longer stop grinning when it comes to this topic.

You mentioned the employees who take care of the equipping of the machines. How did they accept the solution?

The ladies are very happy because they can now entirely focus on their tasks on the machine. However, of course, the solution has also increased the pressure to work productively. Since the number of strokes has increased, every 60 seconds the storage system issues a new roll. 

Were there any special challenges you faced when it came to the implementation of the system?

The integration work must not be underestimated in project of this kind. For you have to bring together a number of different components. In our case,  these were Among others, the CompControl software, our ERP system, the placement machines, the X-ray machines as component counters and the storage
system. However, we have realized everything through the standard interfaces of the individual machines and of the software systems. We didn’t have to write new interfaces. Consequently, the solution could also be transferred to other users. For such a solution is actually interesting for every EMS service provider.

And how did the collaboration with CompControl work out?

Christoph Limpert immediately understood our requirements. And we have always met on an equal footing. We tick in a similar way. When he says that he can implement a project, then you can rely on his promise.

About the company:

Vosch Electronic is an EMS service provider based in Goldach (Switzerland) on the Lake Constance. The company employs 40 people. The customer spectrum ranges from the development and engineering office to small and large companies. The devices and machines produced by the clients of the company Vosch are used in many different fields and industries – such as mechanical engineering, measurement as well as control and medical technology.