Modularized Special Cylinders
Series Production of Hydraulic Cylinders without Over-Engineering
Systematically modularized cylinders are the basis of efficient customized production - even when extensive design and development tasks are involved. But there is a method to the apparent contradiction.
Quality has always been the key to success since the company was founded in 1925 and made a new start with drive technology for industrial applications after the war in Ostfildern near Stuttgart. In recent years in particular, the web-based Hä-Ko product configurator and the underlying design and manufacturing know-how have enabled customers to select an almost unlimited range of products. The system is based on design and production modules which Hänchen uses to pool its expertise and make it available to customers. The decisive benefits are their awareness of the most diverse application environments, loads and cycles customary in the industry as well as comprehensive knowledge of what is important for linear drive solutions in the industrial sector. When orders are placed within the scope of this extremely extensive standard programme via the Hä-Ko, no special design is required.
The third-generation family-run company also gained a reputation as a specialist in the past. As a result, many special cylinders with a batch size of one to three are produced, which are then demanded again years or decades later. By modularizing the design macros of the HäKo, the prototype risk can be minimized. The production is a so-called workshop production, which the individual products and small series are manufactured in a process-optimized and reliable manner. "Customers always receive a high-quality cylinder that runs smoothly through our standardized production steps," summarizes Stefan Hänchen, sales manager and also one of the managing directors.
Series production in the actual sense begins at a number of thirty and comprises a piston diameter of up to 140 mm and a stroke of up to 1,000 mm. Many customers are medium-sized companies with industrial applications. Hänchen takes a holistic approach to providing series cylinders in order to offer a cylinder with an optimized price/performance ratio. "The crucical factor for us is that sales, development and production work closely together in the design and management of the project," says the managing director. This team selects materials, seals and other parameters for the specific application and the customer's requirements. Standardized modules that are not required are removed or are replaced by special designs. Customer can contribute their wishes - but also problems and difficulties - and thus define exactly what they need. This avoids over-engineering.
The result is a cylinder that can be surprisingly inexpensive because it is designed precisely for this application. That's why costs are only incurred where a new design is really needed. Otherwise, the design macros are available: Calculable quantities enable time-consuming or cost-intensive product elements to be prefabricated more cheaply and logistics to be optimized. This has a positive influence on price and delivery time.
"Good quality is not necessarily expensive," emphasizes Stefan Hänchen. "We are continuously working on optimizing the existing structures and production facilities. The company produces more accurately than usual on the market and uses honed running surfaces to ensure durability and minimal friction, despite the extra work involved. This applies to standard, special and series cylinders. "However, quality only depends to a limited extent on the effort involved". Replacing cylinders from in-house production is also a possibility. "The most important key factor is and remains quality," Hänchen concludes.
This article was first published by Konstruktionspraxis.
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