Gebr. Wielpütz, located in Hilden, Germany, is one of the main users of BLM systems and Mr. Olaf Janitza, Technical Director tells us why. "Speed, improvement, reliability, precision and economy. Every year the pressure and expectations from sub-suppliers of automotive parts increases more and more in a global competition that just cannot be avoided". Wielpütz, supplier of 100% of automobile components, produces tubes for measuring the oil level in engines (10 million/year), water cooling and hydraulic pipes for leading vehicle manufacturers such as VW & Audi, Ford, GM and many well-known sub-suppliers. The company has a century old history. It was founded in Solingen to cut metal and evolved considerably over the years in terms of product, location and technology. "We have now reached a head count of over 100 - says Mr. Janitza - and the increased turnover in the last few years is an effective indicator of the ability to respond to new customer demands". The headquarters in Hilden not only have the administrations, design and mould construction divisions, but also tube and wire and plastic processing, assembly and quality control. The second facility located in Solingen deals with the heat treatment such as welding and brazing.
Olaf Janitza lists three factors of success that he believes are fundamental to the development of the company: " we aim at the best training level of our employees, from the production division to the technicians. Tool design and manufacture is carried out in-house, therefore it is a key specialisation. We use the BLM tube bending and end-forming machines that are integrated in our automatic production units". This "love" for the BLM systems started back in 1997 when the first Dynam0 tube bending and AST38 end-forming machines were purchased. The machines are tailored to meet our exact needs, including integrated loading and unloading. At the end of the day, the cost/performance value proved that BLM is one of a kind". Therefore, it is of no surprise to find that there are 12 Dynam0 machines, including the latest right-left in-process model and 7 end-forming machines, which include both the hydraulic AST38 and the all-electric TUBE-FORM Ele models. This makes Wielputz one of the leading users of BLM systems in Germany. "Over the years, we have been able to try out and appreciate the evolution of the various models" continues Mr. Janitza. "The old DNC models were sturdy and reliable and when the PC-controlled models came in, the operators took some time to get used to them, but nowadays with the level reached by the VGP-3D, we just cannot do without them". Moreover, the output has more than doubled; the VGP-3D is a software that also makes it possible to process offers: "with the bending simulation, we know the precise cycle times before producing or implementing the tools".
Eight automatic production stations handle batches of anything from 1,000 to 60,000 pieces. The ninth station is in the process of implementation. "The BLM machines have been designed so that they can be perfectly integrated in this production logic" states Janitza. "A robot takes care of handling the pieces and according to the various combinations, loads them onto and unloads them from the tube bending and end-forming machines or conveys the pieces towards the welding machine. There are many solutions that we have designed ourselves to ensure a high degree of flexibility of the stations". Nowadays, the production department handles 800 different components with characteristics and processing needs that can be extremely different on materials ranging from aluminium stainless steel and steel. "This allows us to supply both small and large batches and to win orders for niche vehicles that are produced in small quantities". The various BLM Dynam0 models manage to handle these variants well, thanks to its capacity of up to 20 mm diameter and in-process left and right hand bending direction with the LR150 version. The BLM integrated loading and unloading devices have now become a usual part of production".
Even the new TUBE-FORM Ele end-forming system, the first all-electric machine of its kind, which was installed in April, has met with the production requirements. "It is even more accurate and repeatable than the previous hydraulic generation that we were used to, and moreover, it is even faster" explains Janitza. "Thanks to the know-how and reliability of the machines, we can focus on further developing tools and integrated processes. In fact, we know the machine parameters well and can exploit the machine to its utmost capacity. This is an important point that contributes to making us competitive in a global market where competition is extremely aggressive".