Keeping an Eye on the Prize: Manz Reinvents Itself in the Changing Business Landscape
Jeffrey Heimgartner posted on January 10, 2018 | | 4866 views

German-based Manz AG, which was founded in 1987, is a globally active, high-tech equipment manufacturer for the production of electronic components and devices, solar modules and lithium-ion batteries. The company has approximately 1,700 employees among its production facilities in Germany, China, Taiwan, Slovakia, Hungary and Italy. It is active in five technology sectors: automation, metrology, laser processing, wet chemistry, printing and coating, as well as roll-to-roll processes. Manz uses and further develops these technologies in its three strategic business segments: Electronics, Solar and Energy Storage, and are continuously developing these technologies.

A look inside the Manz AG manufacturing facility. (Image courtesy of Manz AG)
A look inside the Manz AG manufacturing facility. (Image courtesy of Manz AG)

The company slogan is “passion for efficiency,” and its goal for clients is to significantly reduce the production costs of end products, thereby making them available for a broad range of buyers worldwide. The aim is to achieve highly reliable production processes on the customer side while steadily improving performance parameters for products manufactured on Manz equipment. This helps to make Manz an important driver of innovation, achieving breakthroughs in key technologies such as sustainable power generation and storage, displays, and devices for global communication and e-mobility. Countless components for smartphones, tablet computers, electric vehicle batteries, consumer electronics, stationary energy storage and solar modules are produced with their high-efficiency machines.

Reinventing

Manz has been fortunate enough to work for some pretty big industry names like Apple and Adidas, but there also have been some challenges to its business through the years requiring a continued push to innovate and reinvent itself. One example is the solar market crisis that began in 2011 and led to a strong decline  in investments in its solar equipment, which lasted until as recently as January 2017.

Manz understands that market conditions can change quickly, but they see these challenges as opportunities. Siting their wide footprint and successful cross-industry technology transfer, Manz indicated that they can compensate for temporary weakness in one branch by positively developing others. This helps to reduce their dependence on single industries, and creates synergies that greatly benefit their customers.

Solid Edge

I recently spoke with Manz AG’s Roland Mann, group leader CAP/PLM Administration, and Martin Genz, Global CAD administrator, to get the inside scoop on how they are using Solid Edge to help accomplish their goals.

Manz has been using Solid Edge as a CAD solution since 2002, and has around 140 total users. Mann shared some of the main challenges Manz was facing that led them to look at Solid Edge as a solution.

“I would say our main challenge is the delivery time,” he said. “We don’t have many standardized products of our own but have been concentrating on customer-specific project business; we are developing and manufacturing machines and machine lines for our customers. With this, delivery times are always critical. We are focused on very fast design and delivery processes, which depending on if the project is a re-build or a brand new machine with new processes, can take anywhere between 4 - 12 months.”

One of the biggest benefits that Solid Edge brings to the table for Manz is the ability to import CAD data from other platforms and the ease with which Solid Edge does this. The company receives CAD files from clients, vendors and suppliers that their designers and engineers need to work with. Other platforms they typically receive CAD files in include SOLIDWORKS, Autodesk Inventor, PTC Creo and other customer-based CAD systems.

“We receive design files from our customers that we import into Solid Edge and then we design our machines around those,” Mann said.

Manz also has a lot of old legacy CAD files that were created prior to implementing Solid Edge. The main intent of bringing in this CAD data from other platforms is to reuse it for further de sign steps, make edits and additions, and to generate drawings.

In addition to the ease of importing non Solid Edge files, the company has found that the synchronous technology within Solid Edge has helped out tremendously as well. Manz’s centralized Sheet Metal design department uses synchronous in its workflow, and other departments are using it to edit imported models from old Manz CAD systems and create simplified models of imported standard, catalogue and customer parts. The company attributes synchronous technology as a key factor in the software’s “ease of use.”

“For us ST is an important part of Solid Edge because it’s the only possibility for us to not have to redefine or make the models from scratch,” Mann said. “We just use the imported part and move forward with the design from there to create drawings, which can mean up to a 30% time saving for us.”

The ability to work with large assemblies has been another benefit of Manz’s use of Solid Edge.

“For us when we talk about big assemblies, we’re not talking about 10,000 to 20,000 parts, we’re talking about 200,000 to 300,000 parts,” Genz said. “It’s important for us to be able to work with and simplify these models and assemblies, as well as make configurations. To date this has taken a lot of time, and sometimes the simplifications are not enough to be able to work in the models so we have to switch to something else.”

A battery pack assembly being manufactured at Manz AG. (Image courtesy of Manz AG)

A battery pack assembly being manufactured on Manz equipment. (Image courtesy of Manz AG.)

Both he and Mann look forward to the new features and improved performance once the upgrade to ST10 is implemented.

Some of the innovative new features in ST10 that Manz looks forward to taking advantage of include:

  • Availability of CITRIX installation
  • Ability to automatically switch languages
  • Optimized performance of assembly features. What took 15 minutes on ST6 can be done in 35 seconds now with ST10
  • Improved STEP import

Manz is a dynamic company and has the need to keep adding designers. It’s not surprising that affordability and flexible subscription options also are on the list of benefits realized from using Sold Edge. The company doesn’t necessarily need all of the extended capabilities that come with high-end software, so having a powerful mid-range option has been the perfect fit. Flexible subscription options, such as Solid Edge’s monthly offering, allowed Manz to quickly add 15 seats for a few months while it was going through a design intensive period, and it expects to do the same or similar this year.

For more information on Solid Edge or to start a free trial, click here.

Siemens has sponsored this article. It has provided no editorial input other than verification of the technical facts. All opinions are mine. —Jeffrey Heimgartner

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