As plant manager at BÖHLER Schmiedetechnik GmbH & Co KG in the finishing and product processing department in Kapfenberg, Austria, Rupert Stocker is responsible for personnel availability, the machinery, and the quality of the products processed within his area of responsibility.
As a technology and capital goods company, we are actively helping shape our future. We asked our colleagues around the world how technological developments have improved our daily work over the years. It seems technology has long been integrated into our daily lives and its positive effects are appreciated – as you can read here in the first responses and opinions.
As plant manager at BÖHLER Schmiedetechnik GmbH & Co KG in the finishing and product processing department in Kapfenberg, Austria, Rupert Stocker is responsible for personnel availability, the machinery, and the quality of the products processed within his area of responsibility. For him, digital improvements in measurement engineering mean higher throughput. Developments in automation also bring him new responsibilities related to the employees, however.
What are the technological aspects of your work?
In my work I deal with new technologies and technological change, particularly in connection with automation potential and digitalization. One example of establishing new technologies in our plant is the successful use of robots during measuring.
All of the communication and presentation of information, such as about relevant key figures or important information for the manufacturing process, are also already displayed using our own applications. This is demonstrated by the fact that all relevant information is being provided on a tablet or on info screens and can be accessed on site anywhere in the plant.
Has the use of technology changed over the past few years?
More technology is definitely being used. In the finishing department, for example, products are tested for their dimensional accuracy, among other things. Four years ago, this verification of dimensional accuracy was carried out exclusively with control templates and with manual measuring devices like calipers, for example. These days, an optical 3D measuring device is used that automatically measures the component. The task of the employee has therefore shifted from actively measuring the component to monitoring the automated measuring system.
With this new measuring technology, the throughput during measuring has increased considerably, but so has the volume of digital data that has to be stored and further processed. This means that the use of corresponding IT solutions in connection with the processing of large volumes of data (big data) is another important issue we deal with in daily plant operation. 3D models that are created by the previously mentioned measuring system can be used in subsequent work steps, such as in machining, to optimize the milling program. This future ability to link individual work steps has a significant impact on the entire production process, of course.
How will the use of technologies in your area change and develop over the next few years?
Through digitalization and automation (robotics) and all of the associated technological innovations, networking of the processes within the value chain and beyond it will develop. In the future, process-relevant information will no longer be documented, analyzed and reintroduced into the system by people, but rather the intelligent system will adjust itself continuously to changing restrictions and initiate corrections in the process.
In addition, strenuous and repetitive tasks are increasingly being supported or completely taken over by robots, which relieves strain on the human workforce and ensures process stability. For individual employees, this leads to a change in the tasks and areas of responsibility they are assigned: new challenges and opportunities, especially in production, are created this way.
In this regard, the employer is required to develop new concepts for workstation design and for employee qualification requirements. As a consequence, along with having to deal with technologies that continue to develop rapidly and are made available at ever-shorter intervals, there is also an intensive confrontation with the further development of the work environment.