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Industry 4.0: era-contact receives award

World market leader era-contact, a subsidiary of the aichele GROUP, develops successful practical solutions for Industry 4.0

On 22 May,era-contact GmbH, a subsidiary of the aichele GROUP, successfully asserted itself with its solution for "paperless production" in the Allianz Industrie 4.0 competition. The world market leader received an award as one of 16 prize-winners in the competition "100 locations for Industry 4.0 in Baden-Württemberg" from the Vice-Minister for Economic Affairs Katrin Schütz for the software concept of "paperless production" in the Neues Schloss (New Palace) in Stuttgart.

The software developed in connection with "paperless production" allows screen-supported visualization of technical drawings for the employee during the entire production process, thus integrating all changes during production by means of flexible and up-to-date paperless communication between the persons involved. As the title suggests, the individual employee requires no paper at the workplace.

"Paperless production": A concept for the optimization of production processes

Depending on the dynamics of the customer changes, in the conventional procedure this previously entailed a great logistical effort in order to provide the respective current drawing during the production process at the workplace. If an employee notices a problem during a production step, the drawing must be changed by a designer. Here, it must be ensured that the altered drawing is immediately available at all relevant workplaces. The progressive use of "paperless production" and the connected provision of digitalized data at the workplace allow the current set of drawings for the respective work phase to be called up electronically directly by the employee and displayed on the screen in a user-friendly way. The use of digital media in production thus replaces the cumbersome, manual handling of paper drawings. By means of the digital version of the design data at the workplace, each employee can himself set up the view of the technical drawings according to requirements.

Furthermore, the documentation on the software ensures that only the current version of the drawing in use is made accessible to every employee; changes are clearly identifiable and shown in a comprehensible manner. The work steps are thus easier to follow for the employee. Above all, the risk of accidentally using out-of-date drawings is therefore eliminated and high reworking costs are avoided. The developed software package was initially introduced with success in the modern final assembly and prefabrication in the business area of rail couplings, with which era-contact has established itself as the world market leader.

The intelligent concept of "paperless production" is currently being introduced at all production locations of era-contact: With altogether eight international locations of the aichele GROUP in Germany, China, Tunisia, Turkey and the USA, era-contact is extending its innovative lead worldwide through the use of its optimized production planning and its consistent, redundancy-free data landscapes resulting from "paperless production".

 Industry 4.0: Challenge for employees

The integration of information and communication technology in the production environment is of considerable importance in the current debate on more transparent and responsive production processes. On account of this increasing digitalization, networking, flexibility and the growing complexity of processes, this is also associated with new competence requirements made of the employees. era-contact successfully reacts to these extensive requirements: Fully in accordance with the corporate philosophy of the aichele GROUP "Our success is driven by people", also in the second generation of the Aichele family great value is attached to promoting the competence of the individual employee. Training and further training are among the important measures for implementing and supporting "paperless production". So far, the response on the part of employees has been very positive.  

The aichele GROUP GmbH + Co. KG, as a family-run holding company, owns, beside era-contact GmbH, two other operational subsidiaries: BREMI Fahrzeug-Elektrik and streicherplast, and is thus active on four continents with eight international locations. For 90 years, era-contact (formerly FABEG) has been successful in the railway, automotive, commercial vehicle, and construction machinery sectors, as well as in the areas of measuring and medical technology, and machine and plant construction. In 2000, era-contact was incorporated by the Herrenberg-based entrepreneur Erich Aichele into the aichele GROUP of companies. As the world market leader for electrical rail couplings and an innovative system supplier for high-tech products and solutions from the area of cable manufacture, UIC connector systems and contact systems, era-contact plans on a local basis and supplies its partners in many sectors worldwide.


Photo © Allianz Industrie 4.0

l. t. r.: Katrin Schütz (undersecretary of state), Dr. Sven Wachter (Director R&D + Engineering era-contact,  project director „paperless production“), Gregor Nowak (Software Development era-contact, project manager „paperless production“)