Innovative Production Processes and Future-Oriented Technologies
The Formel D Group supplies a German premium manufacturer with various quality-assuring service tools to ensure an optimum production process in vehicle manufacture.
Electromobility now already offers an innovative ecological solution for facing the challenges posed by everyday driving in future. The objective is to present auto enthusiasts with a sustainable, innovative concept which maintains driving enjoyment. One possible way of meeting this complex challenge is to focus on light- weight construction. In addition to state-of-the-art bonding techniques, many new- generation materials are now being used to reduce weight in the production of electric vehicles. Thus, the innovative energy of the industry leads to the development of alternative solutions such as carbon fibre-reinforced plastics, or CFRP for short. In addition to weight reduction, the large-scale use of lightweight construction materials in this area is also focussing on the resulting optimisation of the driving dynamics. Besides quality assurance for purchased parts, Formel D’s main fields of activity in the production of electric vehicles include detailed inspection work as part of body and component construction. “It is exciting to work with modern materials and experience innovations from close up every single day,” says Ragnar Reiter, Director at Formel D.
The highly-modern process of innovative vehicle production requires professional know-how on the part of the employees at Formel D as regards the CFRP production process and the material reworking and inspection methods, for instance. In addition, the challenge is to develop suitable inspection processes providing com- prehensive support in quality assurance for CFRP components.
The services offered to Formel D customers as part of in-process testing include endurance tests for certain components, and the company is also in charge of documenting the test methods. Here, the focus is on up-to-the-minute data on the one hand and the comprehensive organisation of the processes on the other. “Our activities enable the customer to concentrate entirely on its core competencies and the further development of its processes,” Ragnar Reiter explains.
State-of-the-art Quality Tools
With the Quality Confirmation Center (QCC), Formel D offers a comprehensive, sus- tainable concept. Besides the verification of defined quality requirements, it focuses on the optimisation of quality and production standards. In addition, it is designed for the proactive inspection of the processes, permitting their subsequent develop- ment according to the requirements and guaranteeing a reduction in the necessity for rework activities. Detailed check-ups of this kind within quality management often show the need for special inspections, the performance of which is stan- dardised by Formel D. In this way, it is possible to consistently increase both the production quality of the vehicles and their delivery quality, thus generating long- term added value for the customer.
Firstly, the QCC-specific processes require the project managers to prepare an individual documentation folder in which all information is entered. To ensure the good flows, Formel D also promptly provides the necessary capacities and resources, including the tools and materials etc. If employees notice a particular part on the assembly line, the quality assurance representative of the customer immediately notifies the Formel D project coordinator, and the further procedure with regard to the component in question is defined.
“Our immediate measures start from this moment on,” says Ragnar Reiter, Director at Formel D, explaining the complex process. “These include simultaneous inspection on the production lines and in the warehouse. If we have a QCC at several sites of the OEM, those responsible immediately notify all the other customer sites making use of the rejected part by transferring all the relevant project data to the QCC there.” This location-spanning early warning system works as a preventive measure and offers a rapid response which helps to prevent the assembly lines from coming to a standstill. The experts from Formel D directly define the suitable test method, determine the scope of the individual measures and provide compa- rative images of the planned and actual condition of the component to enable the implementation of the measures.
The Formel D structures implemented enable the customer to comprehensively monitor the compliance of its products with the previously defined quality stand- ards, and to increase the quality of the product. The trend towards restructuring observable among manufacturers also has an effect on the experienced service provider Formel D. “We are currently noticing an increasing demand for activities to be performed as part of supplier development,” says Ragnar Reiter. “In this context, we function as an upstream inspection facility which operates before the goods reach the QCC at the OEM, and we are able to influence the quality in a positive way by carrying out the relevant inspections of the component.” The commitment of the Formel D Group across sites and institutions enables manufacturers to realise a structured, optimised production process. The customers of the service provider also include the Munich premium manufacturer BMW, for which Formel D functions as a high-quality service provider at various sites.