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Progress creates flexibility enabling progress Dornbracht presents world innovations in electroplating technology.

Iserlohn While an entire industry seeks competitive production concepts for Germany as a location, Dornbracht continues to develop its vision of the emotional factory. At its heart are electroplating systems that can produce anything from a single item to large batches. In order to achieve this aim, Dornbracht has been collaborating with the robot systems company Carat Robotic Innovation GmbH on the continued development of the Gavaro electroplating robot, which has been in use for four years. The result is the Gavaroline, a modular production line that allows the geometrically complex Dornbracht fittings to be electroplated in accordance with the highest quality standards and in greater quantities than ever before. As well as the Gavaroline there are two other modular plating systems in operation, the new Variolines – one for chrome surfacing, and another for matt platinum. The modular construction of the three lines in a newly constructed multi-functional hall gives Dornbracht a wholly new level of flexibility in the handling of innovative technologies.

One idea; eight experts with no hierarchies – that is how the Dornbracht embarked on one of the most important future projects in the company’s history. Selected technicians took up residence in a separate building on the company’s site where, free from the pressures of current development projects, they were to address the question of how electroplating could be redefined as the biggest added-value process in its production. This think-tank, known as the technology module, was to report exclusively to Matthias and Andreas Dornbracht on its progress and organise its working methods independently.

“The project group amazed us with its performance. The results are exceptional,” reports CEO Matthias Dornbracht, who is responsible for the company’s production, purchasing and logistics. “To simplify it, we fed them our idea of the emotional factory, and then came our question: how can it be achieved?” The term emotional factory is the counterpart to the digitalized, fully automated production method of a manufacturing concept that is based fundamentally on employees’ emotional involvement in the success and failure of the company. In the premium segment, where Dornbracht has been successful for three generations in the production of high quality designer fittings, its employees’ understanding of their direct influence on product quality was a key competitive advantage.

The higher principle of modularisation:

In line with the modularisation of various divisions, the company has continued to develop employee participation. Specialists in various disciplines work more closely in individual modules, department boundaries have been removed, “interfaces became joints”. The declared (consider using the word ‘shared’ here instead) goals enable better communication, reduced complexity within processes, and more direct responsibility.

From theory to practice: In March 2010, Dornbracht’s electroplating processes will relaunch following a thorough revision of the concept, continuing the idea of modularisation into the production processes. The industry’s central solution of a large electroplating system is replaced by smaller, highly flexible units. Depending on the complexity and batch size of the items being manufactured, two new production lines are now being used in addition to the Gavaros, the extremely successful electroplating robots: one Gavaroline and two Variolines. Single items, special orders and small quantities will continue to be finished in the manual electroplating system.

The new lines are item-specific systems. The company continues to follow its main priority that all manufacturing and organisational units should be secondary to design. “Not a single radius, nor a single edge is to be changed for the sake of increasing the number of items manufactured in a time unit.” Is this still Matthias Dornbracht speaking?

In future, greater quantities of increasingly complex geometric shapes such as the fittings series Lulu and MEM will be coated than currently are by the electroplating robots, which can only complete one item per process. The kinematic robots were further developed for this purpose and given a frame so that several components can pass through the electrolytic solutions in a single run.

The Gavaroline consists of three modules. Each module contains two robots with six axles that enable them to cover a large movement range. This helps to keep liquid spillages to a minimum. The Variolines, by contrast, are designed for a moving frame system for large quantities of correspondingly lower complexity such as the series Meta.02 and Madison.

The various “electroplating philosophies” enable Dornbracht to create anything from large batch sizes to single items. The modular principle of the two lines also enables the company to respond very quickly to, for instance, legal requirements or technological developments. Perhaps if new environmental standards need to be met, explained Matthias Dornbracht. “This enables me to implement technical progress in two-year stages. Out with the old module, in with the new one.” Ultimately this flexibility in manufacturing technology pays for itself, even though modularity initially costs more than central solutions do.

Moving into the new multi-functional hall:

The new electroplating system is situated in a new manufacturing hall that was designed following the terrible fire on the company’s premises in July 2009, and was built in just two months. This new building was also based on the principle of modularity. Matthias Dornbracht: “If we wish to achieve maximum flexibility in the manufacturing process, then this logic also has to be evident in the buildings.” Specifically, the challenge when planning the new hall was that it should contain no fixed pillars or supports that could ultimately be in the way. Even more important: no process-specific elements were to be connected with the building. Accordingly, a separate supply module was designed for the Gavaroline and Variolines which, like the drainage and ventilation technology, is not directly connected to the hall technology.

Further information on Dornbracht and Dornbracht products and the digital press texts are available in the Internet at www.dornbracht.com or from the Dornbracht Press Office: Meiré und Meiré, Stephanie Eckerskorn / Aline Wenderoth, Lichtstr. 26-28, D-50825 Cologne, T. +49 (0) 221 5777 0416 / 0402, email: s.eckerskorn@meireundmeire.de / a.wenderoth@meireundmeire.de. Your contacts at Dornbracht: Melanie Prüsch / Anke Siebold, Köbbingser Mühle 6, D-58640 Iserlohn, T. +49 (0) 2371 433 2119 / 2118, email: mpruesch@dornbracht.de / asiebold@dornbracht.de.

At the heart of its emotional factory at the company's location in Iserlohn are internationally unparalleled electroplating systems (front: Gavaroline, back: Varioline) that can produce anything from a single item to large batches. The modular construction of the lines housed within a newly constructed multi-functional hall takes Dornbracht to a brand new level of flexibility in the way it approaches innovative technologies.
The Gavaroline consists of three modular units. Each module contains two robots with six axles that enable them to cover a large movement range. This helps to keep liquid spillages to a minimum.
The kinematic Gavoros robots were specially developed for the new Gavaroline and equipped with a frame enabling several components to be electroplated in a single run.
The Variolines are designed for a moving frame system for large component quantities of correspondingly lower complexity.
The new electroplating lines are item-specific systems. The company continues to follow its main priority that all manufacturing and organisational units should be secondary to design. "Not a single radius, nor a single edge is to be changed for the sake of increasing the number of items manufactured in a time unit."

In future, greater quantities of increasingly complex geometric shapes such as the fittings series Lulu and MEM will be coated by the electroplating robots, which can only complete one item per process. The kinematic Gavoros robots were specially developed for this purpose and equipped with a frame enabling several components to pass through the electrolytic solutions in a single run.