ENABLING THE DIGITAL WORLD

“Without open cooperation, things barely work anymore these days”

19.04.2022

Hauni and ASMPT: Speed makes the difference

Speed is an absolute necessity these days in the machine tool business, which is characterized by strict customer orientation, short development cycles, and the digital transformation. Hauni, the Hamburg-based maker of machines and systems for the tobacco industry, is no exception. A particularly close relationship between Hauni’s innovation team and its counterpart at ASMPT SMT Solutions, the Center of Competence team in Munich, ensures this necessary level of speed in development and production.

“Without open cooperation, things barely work anymore these days.” With these words, Dr. Niklas Romming, product manager/product owner at Hauni, describes the situation in the machine tool industry, for which Germany is the global role model. Close technology partnerships between systems and machine engineering companies are increasingly becoming the criterion for when and how innovations can be put into practice. Accordingly, the much-vaunted time-to-market was a major yardstick for Hauni when it evaluated new growth opportunities for itself in the booming market for e-cigarettes as part of its planning process in the spring of 2020. According to Dr. Romming, the market in this field is being flooded by consumer products churned out in millions of units, only to be replaced by others a short time later: “There is little time left for the development of machines because the fastest player gets the business.”

Center of Competence speeds things up

To enter this fast-moving business with its “countless brands, competitors and solutions” as a long-established maker of machinery for the tobacco industry, Hauni’s management broke new ground. A think tank modeled after a startup, reportingd directly to the managing board, was set up to generate innovations and accelerate the entry into the new market segment, says the project manager. One goal of decoupling this venture from the parent company’s day-to-day business was to bring about fresh ideas for the faster production of vaporizers for e-cigarettes. “The initial focus was on thinking outside the box regardless of existing methods and procedures in classical mechanical engineering,” recalls Dr. Romming. And with that, SMT production quickly entered the picture. The idea was that innovations from this industry would enable the German machine manufacturer to produce the evaporators faster, more cost-effectively, and in a higher level of quality.

As luck would have it for Hauni's team, ASMPT, the maker of SMT placement machines in Munich, represents a similar philosophy of fast, agile innovation research. With its small yet powerful competence teams, the leading supplier to the electronics industry has pursued for quite some time the strategy of advancing innovations for the integrated smart factory through close technology partnerships. Dr. Romming: “We looked at many companies. ASM with its Center of Competence was positioned very differently than other suppliers in the market, and ASMPT’s machines are much more advanced than those of their competitors. In addition to their technical expertise, the Munich-based engineers impressed us especially with their pragmatic approach to things.” So pragmatic, in fact, that the first results were tangible after only three months of open discussions and simulations. “We found a completely new approach to this high-volume market and developed a viable solution during this time.”

“See what works”

This was made possible to a large extent because ASMPT SMT Solutions established its Centers of Competence, of which there are now five worldwide, for precisely such requirements. “In our CoC in Munich we give users the opportunity to have ASMPT’s hardware and software solutions demonstrated in their full functionality. They can evaluate and test planned production flows on real and ready-to-use lines without having to interrupt or interfere with their own production lines at home,” explains Wolfgang Eisner, Manager Customized Products at ASMPT. “In concert with our experts, customers can also use this facility to develop the kind of specialized solutions they need for their particular applications. We simply see what works. In this way, we help our customers to optimize their equipment and their processes, acquire new competencies, and master even non-typical challenges in their production.”

In the case of Hauni, the high-end SIPLACE SX placement solution played the main role. With only a few adjustments, the ASMPT specialists managed to realize a tailor-made SMT environment for everything needed to produce the core element of the evaporators. “As a standard machine, the SIPLACE SX operates considerably faster, cheaper and with more quality compared to specialty machines that would first have to be developed, not to mention the manual labor that was required in the past,” says Dr. Romming. And that the SIPLACE SX can be used for other applications thanks to its extensive options and easy adaptability is another big plus for the machine tool manufacturer. Dr. Romming adds: “We are currently evaluating how we can use our research results and above all the high production speed of the SIPLACE SX for other production areas in the future.”

Such considerations would have been impossible without Hauni’s close partnership with ASMPT. Dr. Romming's preliminary summary: “As a mechanical engineering company, you can no longer hide behind walls and keep all your findings to yourself. Sustainable innovations in the technology field come about through partnerships on an equal footing.”

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