“We are redesigning the entire production process”
At its Herzlake site, the Krone Commercial Vehicle Group is very successful in its production of swap systems and dry liners. Expansion is in full swing – and customers are benefitting from it in many ways.
erzlake is growing. The swap systems and Dry Liners that are made at the site of the Krone Commercial Vehicle Group are in high demand. Krone will therefore be almost doubling production here by the middle of 2021. This has already been made possible through automatic component production, which was put into operation in two stages in the period from mid 2017 to mid 2018. In addition, robots will produce the swap trailers in future. So this is a huge project that is being implemented in an area covering around 352,000 square metres of the site, directly on the E-233 motorway. “We are putting the entire production process on a new footing”, explains Jens Ficker, Managing Director for Production at the Krone Commercial Vehicle Group.
The priority at the moment is the completion of a large assembly hall: the products are fed from there to the new assembly lines automatically from a buffer. “We have invested a lot in automation technology with new joining techniques so that we can produce more and more efficiently in future”, says Ficker. The greater degree of automation in the company is also being used to change internal logistics processes: “We are considering using driverless transport systems in order picking, for example.” All of this is bringing a lot of changes for employees, as automated processes require different availabilities, for example, and different preventive maintenance and servicing cycles compared to the past. “Managers, in particular, must adjust to this, so we are integrating them closely into the developments.”
“We have invested a lot in automation technology with new joining techniques so that we can produce more and more efficiently in future.”
Jens Ficker, Managing Director for Production at the Krone Commercial Vehicle Group
In 2020 Krone celebrates its 30th anniversary at the Herzlake site. Over those three decades, customers and their individual requirements have always been the focal point. “We work with them to develop product solutions that support and promote their success”, explains Jens Ficker, “the continuous growth of our plant and the high volumes that we are able to produce in Herzlake testify to this.” Sascha Kwiecinski, Manager of the Herzlake plant, adds: “High delivery reliability and, of course, the very best quality of our products are very important to us. As far as the shelf life and robustness of our products is concerned, we have an outstanding reputation on the market and have built up a high level of trust with our customers.”
CUSTOMERS SHOW A HIGH LEVEL OF INTEREST
While in Werlte it is mainly curtainsider trailers that are produced, in Lübtheen refrigerated trailers, in Deurne Moving Floor trailers and in Dinklage axles, the Herzlake site focuses on the production of dry goods box trailers, swap systems, rear doors and and front walls. The box-bodies are used primarily for the transport of single items and for package deliveries as a result of the boom in e-commerce. Many customers are showing a high level of interest in the specific approach of Krone; they want to understand how the products are made. “More and more customers are collecting their vehicles directly from the factory, not least because they also want to understand our processes”, says Plant Manager Kwiecinski. “They ask more questions than in the past and now have higher demands in terms of the quality and appearance of the product. We are happy to ask ourselves these questions and we also learn a lot from them.”
PRODUCTS FORM HERZLAKE IN ACTION
Richard Küppers, Operations Manager of Cologne-based Emons Spedition GmbH: “We buy chassis, trailers and swap bodies from Krone. The products are very high quality, well finished and have a very stable design so that they are the optimal equipment for our groupage transport throughout Germany. Communication with the company also works extremely well. Everything just falls into place: from ordering, through to production and delivery. Also, if our workshop requires spare parts, they are supplied to us absolutely reliably. It’s simply a great collaboration!”
Hans-Günther Schwarz, Managing Director and Vehicle Fleet Manager of Spedition Schwarz GmbH in Herbrechtingen in Baden-Württemberg: “We focus on volume transport: in particular, we transport white goods like fridges and washing machines. The vehicle fleet of the Schwarz Group includes 250 tractor units. By using only swap bodies, which we can also place strategically with our customers, loading and unloading of the shipments are decoupled and can therefore be carried out very flexibly. At Krone, we are impressed not only by the solid and extremely reliable products, but also by the wide portfolio. We use some highly specialised swap bodies, for example with sliding or steel tops – Krone has all of this in its range and always provides it in the highest quality.”
“The high level of efficiency at the Herzlake plant is mainly achieved through in-house design and production, drawn from our own depth of experience.” Sascha Kwiecinski explains in this connection: “We are very experienced when it comes to sheet metal processing and joining technology and we are innovative in both areas, which gives us the flexibility to respond to market changes and customer requirements. If necessary, however, we are also happy to bring in expertise from outside so that we can achieve the very best results.” The biggest challenge in day-to-day business lies in continuing to develop innovations with a very high order volume. “The last year was a record year for us”, reports Kwiecinski, “which meant that our employees on site were extremely busy and working at full capacity. In parallel, however, we have been taking on new tasks to which part of the workforce is devoting all of its time. It’s not always easy, but on the other hand everyone enjoys creating something new.”
VERY INTERESTING, MODERN JOBS
“For me personally, it’s fascinating to see how closely we all work together here at the site”, says Sascha Kwiecinski with visible pride. “You can contribute ideas and discuss them directly. Herzlake is simply a nice place to work – a plant that offers great prospects for the future. Very interesting, modern jobs are created here. And last but not least, we have a great environment – in the plant and in the region.”