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A logistical feat

January 27, 2015

For Wacker Neuson Linz GmbH, not even a move to a new workshop can interrupt production to meet strong market demand. 

LINZ - There’s intense activity all along the assembly lines. Excavator cabs float gracefully along the factory floor of the compact machines manufacturer Wacker Neuson Linz GmbH. Standing at their workstations, workers single-handedly move machine components weighing up to several hundred kilos to and fro.

Glancing up along the chain hoists in the direction of the workshop ceiling, a view onto a colorful rail network opens up – red, yellow and orange crane struts that are part of a modular system specially designed by Konecranes.

The workshop here in Hörsching makes compact and mobile excavators, skid steer loaders and wheel and track dumpers for construction and industrial use, as well as for gardening and landscaping. The building we’re in is part of the vast facility that belongs to Wacker Neuson Linz GmbH – one of eight production facilities worldwide of the global Wacker Neuson Group, an internationally leading group of companies for the development, production and sales of compact machines and construction equipment.

At the entrance to the workshop, Gert Reichetseder, Wacker Neuson Linz GmbH’s Managing Director, meets up with Ernst Bammer, a Project Manager from Konecranes.

“This project was a challenging one on many levels, but we managed to bring it to a successful conclusion,” Reichetseder says, greeting Bammer with a vigorous handshake.

Whirlwind project

Wacker Neuson Linz GmbH moved into this site in May 2012. It was due to increasing demand for its products that the company had planned and constructed the new facility, which is in close proximity to the airport. The project was completed within a whirlwind period of just eleven months.

The result of more than 65 million euros in capital outlay, the project was the biggest investment in the Wacker Neuson Group’s history. It was also the largest single investment made in Upper Austria in 2012. All in all, the high tech facility covers a built-up area of 50,000 square meters, set on 17 hectares of grounds. The production workshop is one of the most modern compact machinery works worldwide today.

A proven partner

“To construct our new workshop, it was necessary to plan, produce and assemble a very large number of cranes and take them into service,” Wacker Neuson Linz GmbH's Managing Director Reichetseder explains as we tour the facility. In addition to the limited lead-time, it was also important to prepare for further challenges.

High volatility in the compact machinery sector means that adapting quickly to rapidly changing market demands is crucial. For this reason, the Wacker Neuson Linz GmbH workshop needed a crane system that was highly compatible and flexible. A call for tenders followed, and Konecranes won the contract.

“We had already been using about 30 cranes by Konecranes at our previous site in Leonding since 1998,” Reichetseder recalls. “We were very satisfied with Konecranes’ competence in problem-solving, their reliability and service, as well as our contacts. Under these circumstances it was quite natural for us to fall back on a proven partner.”

Modularity gives flexibility

We walk over to one of the six assembly lines, where a nearly finished excavator is taken into service.

“Excavators are made up of 1,800 single parts. This is why to assemble them, we need a large number of cranes that are easy to operate and have a wide range of movement,” Reichetseder explains.

In addition to ease of operation, the new system also had to meet unusual requirements, such as spans of up to 10 meters and lifting capacities for loads of up to 1,250 kilograms. “That’s about the weight of a small car,” Reichetseder points out.

A further requirement for the system was flexibility and modifiability, which would enable rapid adaptation to frequent and inevitable changes in the market. Konecranes recommended a solution that combined the XM light crane system made up of modular prefabricated components and the proven Konecranes XN chain hoist.

“Using special Halfen rails in the concrete ceiling of the workshop, the cranes have been fitted so that they can be taken down as easily as possible and refitted at other workstations as needed,” explains Bammer.

Further advantages of the XM light cranes are their smooth and silent travel movement, simple ergonomic operation and optimized build size. “For their part, the XN chain hoists are reliable and versatile. They can also be matched to different lifting requirements," Bammer explains.

Like clockwork

In total, 110 light traveling cranes and, additionally, around 30 CXT bridge cranes were installed at the new Hörsching workshop. A total of 15 Konecranes personnel were on site to facilitate this logistical feat.

“Production couldn’t be interrupted in spite of the ongoing removal process, so the installation of the cranes had to be planned with clockwork precision. Doing this enabled workers to seamlessly continue all the work they had started at the previous location at the new site,” Reichetseder says.

Konecranes continues to serve as a one-stop shop, catering to Wacker Neuson’s needs, from planning and assembly all the way to customer service.

“The cranes feature the TRUCONNECT remote monitoring and reporting service that enhances the safety of the cranes by informing the Konecranes Remote Center about their performance and condition in real time,” explains Bammer.

“We’re pleased with the smooth flow of operations in our production. The cranes are low maintenance and reliable, so they lighten the workload of our employees in production,” Reichetseder says.

“On the whole, they’ve helped make our working processes more efficient and productive,” he quickly sums up, before excusing himself and rushing to the workshop’s exit. A moment ago, his assistant had asked him to take a phone call.

New business undoubtedly awaits.

Text and photos: Nina Kreuzinger

3 benefits

  • The XM light crane system can be modified in the event of market changes.
  • Installation was organized to prevent interruptions to the production process.
  • The light traveling cranes have spans of up to 10 meters and can carry loads of up to 1,250 kg.