Walter Formenbau trusts in MAPAL’s expertise

“If autonomous driving is possible, then surely so too is autonomous manufacturing”, says Dr Jens Buchert, owner of Karl Walter Formen- und Kokillenbau GmbH & Co. KG. His goal is to achieve fully networked production. And he’s got MAPAL on board to make this happen – not only as a tool supplier, but as a complete provider. Including services covering process optimisation and networking.

Equipped tools are in the production. They are arranged in several rows and are provided with labels. In the foreground is a complex form from Walter Formenbau.
  • Equipped tools are in the production. They are arranged in several rows and are provided with labels. In the foreground is a complex form from Walter Formenbau.
  • On the picture you can see a finished rim on a white background.
  • The picture shows a section of a mould for a battery tray with complex open spaces.
  • A UNIBASE-M tool dispensing system with computer unit, cabinets, monitor and scanner.
  • On the UNISET-C tool setting device, David Frommhold prepares the tool system for production use. He receives the measuring program directly from the CAM system. The measuring protocol is transferred to the machine via c-Com and the c-Connect box.
  • MAPAL consultant Alfred Baur talks to Managing Director Dr. Jens Buchert. You are standing in front of a machining centre.
  • Dr. Jens Buchert scans a tool. In front of him stands a monitor. At the machine in the background is a c-Connect box.
  • A close-up of a c-Connect box is shown. It is connected to the machine.
  • The green machine traffic light can be seen. Sensors for monitoring are connected to it.
Karl Walter Formen- und Kokillenbau GmbH & Co. KG (Walter) is located in the industrial area of Ursenwang, a suburb of Göppingen in the Filstal region. On a site covering approx. 3,000 square metres, the company manufactures moulds and dies for aluminium wheels and other cast parts and is regarded as one of the leading manufacturers in this field. The company was founded in 1960 and today the mould maker employs 32 staff.
Auf dem Bild ist freigestellt auf weißem Hintergrund ein fertig bearbeitetes Rad zu sehen.
Moulds for wheels like these are manufactured at Walter Formenbau.
Dr Jens Buchert took the reins of the company in 2016 and has big plans for the future – he wants to introduce end-to-end digital production. That is his goal. Nothing less will suffice. Because: “If autonomous driving is possible, then surely so too is autonomous manufacturing.” It should even be much easier: “There are no other drivers involved in the manufacturing process, there are no kids running on the road. If everything is planned properly, there can be few surprises”, says Buchert. Yet at the same time introducing fully end-to-end networking and automated manufacturing into an existing company is not an easy task.
Dr. Jens Buchert scannt ein Werkzeug. Vor ihm steht ein Monitor. An der Maschine im Hintergrund ist eine c-Connect Box.
Dr Jens Buchert at one of his autonomously working machines. His goal is a fully networked production.

First steps have been taken

“We’re gradually digitising and networking, and working hard towards achieving optimum manufacturing”, explains Dr Jens Buchert. To this end, the entire process from order receipt to delivery of the finished moulds must be considered. This also includes the machining work itself and all associated processes. “I’ve been looking for a partner with expertise in both these areas, a partner that takes a complete overview of matters.” And in MAPAL he’s found that partner: “MAPAL is the only tool manufacturer that can map the entire process chain. Covering the tool itself, clamping technology, tool management, tool pre-setting and with c-Com even the networking of the machinery.”
David Frommhold von Walter Formenbau spricht in der Fertigung mit MAPAL Berater Alfred Baur. Im Hintergrund ist das UNIBASE-M zu sehen.
Alfred Baur provides support in production on all questions relating to tools, machining and the processes relating to tools. Here in conversation with David Frommhold \(left\) from Walter Formenbau.

Quality and performance impress

Today, Walter procures 80 % of its chucks and tools from MAPAL. “It’s not just the quality and performance of MAPAL products that impresses me. The chucks and tools come from a single source – meaning that both components are perfectly matched to one another”, says Dr Jens Buchert. In addition, the fact that MAPAL displays expertise and flexibility in this specialist area represents a huge plus for him: “If we need special geometries, for example, for ball-nose cutters made of solid carbide, MAPAL manufactures these tools for us quickly and without any fuss.”
Gerüstete Werkzeuge stehen in der Fertigung. Sie sind in mehreren Reihen angeordnet und mit Label versehen.
Prepared tools waiting to be used in the machine. Clearly identifiable via a barcode. Walter Formenbau purchases 80 percent of the tools and chucks from MAPAL.
In addition to the products, MAPAL is also supporting the mould maker in its goal of achieving networked manufacturing. One issue has been the complexity involved in tracing tool data. “We spent 1.5 man-years searching for and compiling tool information”, admits Dr Buchert. UNIBASE software offered the solution.
Ein Werkzeugausgabesystem UNIBASE-M mit Rechnereinheit, Schränken, Bildschirm und Scanner.
Walter has two UNIBASE-M dispensing systems from MAPAL in production. This saves a lot of time that was previously spent searching for tools.

Output systems for order and transparency

“We integrated the data from the CAM system into the software and installed two UNIBASE-M output systems”, explains Stephan Köstler, Mechatronic Systems Engineering Manager at MAPAL. “Köstler’s team also connected some of our existing cabinets to the system”, adds Buchert. The software now contains accurate information on existing tools and available dimensions and where they are located. If an employee takes a tool out of the UNIBASE-M system, this is registered by the software.
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This way the software makes the life of a purchaser at Walter much easier. Once a week, the system generates an email detailing current stock volumes and ordering requirements. As a result, this has greatly improved the safeguarding of tool availability.

c-Connect for networking and automation

In order to maximise automation, Dr Buchert also made the networking of his machines a top priority. However, this proved to be a difficult task for the mould maker due to the variety and diversity of machinery. “Here, too, we offer the optimum solution”, explains Stephan Köstler. As a pilot project, Buchert completely automated two of his machines, even loading tasks are performed by a robot. MAPAL experts connected a c-Connect box to both machines. c-Connect is a product from MAPAL subsidiary c-Com.
In Nahaufnahme ist eine c-Connect Box zu sehen. Sie ist an die Maschine angeschlossen.
A c-Connect Box is connected to two machines at Walter. This is used to transfer the measurement data from the tools to the machine.
The machines are connected to the open cloud platform c-Com via the c-Connect boxes. This in turn is also connected to the setting fixture UNISET-C, which is integrated into Walter’s CAM system. This allows the setting fixture operator to directly display and start the measurement programme for the respective tool from the CAM system. The measurement data calculated in this way is fed back into the machine directly by the UNISET-C via c-Com and the c-Connect box.
Die grün leuchtende Maschinenampel ist zu sehen. An sie angeschlossen sind Sensoren zur Überwachung.
Walter uses another advantage of the c-Connect Box - the status of the machine traffic lights is monitored via sensors.

Networking further expanded

c-Connect offers further benefits for Walter in addition to the transfer of data. For example, tool life data is recorded and requirements are registered. And: Walter uses an additional function of the c-Connect box – machine monitoring. The box records the status of the respective machine traffic light using sensors. This provides Dr Buchert with an evaluation of the OEE (overall equipment effectiveness) quickly and easily. “As soon as these two pilot machines work autonomously without any issues, then we’ll start adding further machines”, says Buchert.
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It’s not simply the individual components that define the cooperation between Walter and MAPAL. It’s more about the bigger picture and mutual learning. “Through close cooperation, we’ve really got to know the die & mould sector”, confirms Alfred Baur. Dr Jens Buchert emphasises: “MAPAL’s flexibility has really impressed me. The fact that we can get everything from a single source from one single expert point of contact is a big plus from my perspective.”
Alfred Baur spricht mit Dr. Jens Buchert. Sie stehen vor einem Bearbeitungszentrum.
Working together in collaboration. From the right: Dr Jens Buchert, owner and managing director of Karl Walter Formen- und Kokillenbau GmbH & Co. KG, and Alfred Baur, MAPAL sales representative.