Concentrated strength – AGCO Fendt

Lean Management

The increase in volume requires a replanning of AGCO Fendt‘s transmission plant.

Fendt was the first tractor manufacturer in the world to install a stepless Vario transmission – a true innovation in agricultural engineering more than 20 years ago. The tractor could be operated without gear changes, jerking and line interruptions – at any speed and either uphill or downhill. Further development of this invention has led to today’s Fendt VarioDrive, a variable four wheel drive, manufactured in Marktoberdorf.

At its German headquarters in the Allgäu region, AGCO Fendt unites all of its competencies – a real locational advantage. All divisions work together towards common goals. Development, production, marketing, and sales are all closely interlinked.

As part of a restructuring and production expansion, Staufen AG has supported the new planning of the AGCO Fendt transmission plant since fall 2017. The goal: reorganize manufacturing processes, use production machines more effectively, and thereby achieve cost savings. In the future, AGCO Fendt’s transmission plant will not only supply finished components for the final assembly of tractors on site, but it will also produce transmission parts for other brands of the group. This promises additional growth and places particular demands on the new design of the manufacturing processes.

“We wanted to optimize  processes so that they perfectly harmonize with each other and production can take place in the three segments synchronously. The challenge was to use the available space as efficiently as possible while preserving the flow of value streams,” says Tobias Loher, Manager AGCO Production System. 

As a small series manufacturer, it is very important for us to achieve the right balance between cost efficiency and flexibility in the restructuring.

ekkehart gläser, managing director production and quality

How the Fendt factory ticks 

Transmission manufacturing is divided into three segments: housing manufacturing, gear and shaft manufacturing, and transmission assembly. A detailed analysis is conducted at the beginning of restructuring. How does the manufacturing process work as a whole? Which individual steps are necessary? These are questions that need to be answered first. They form the basis for the factory design.

In addition to evaluating process and set-up times, plant utilization, and lead times, the main focus is on analyzing value streams. Main value streams are identified and re-sorted. It must also be considered that expanding transmission manufacturing for other brands should enable the production of new and partially larger components. This applies to gear manufacturing in particular. 

Segmentation through production islands 

Creating a product-machine matrix forms the basis for planning machine employment in the manufacturing process. Here, the manufacturing steps of each item produced in the transmission plant and the associated plant capacity are recorded. A further design phase involves arranging the machines according to the value stream principle instead of according to technologies. Small production islands are created with segmentation according to parts families. It is important to effectively utilize the machines and thereby operate the segments in a cost-optimal manner.

The state of affairs after the first project phase: the analysis of the value streams is completed. A decision has been made as to which machines can be combined to form production islands. In addition, unchangeable fixed aspects that limit planning, such as the size of the hall or the hardening shop in gear production, must be taken into account. These fundamentals are crucial when aiming to redesign the factory along the value streams. 

From “ideal factory” to “real factory” 

The subsequent layout planning aims to illustrate manufacturing steps as much as possible within the existing buildings. There are no plans for a new building. Due to space restrictions, components that do not belong to the core competence parts must be manufactured externally in the future. The core competence parts will continue to be produced in Fendt factory buildings.

The customer’s three segment managers at the transmission plant are integrated into the planning process. They are responsible for corresponding sub-planning and are supported by their planning staff and the foremen.
As Plant Manager of the transmission plant, Karl-Heinz Welz is involved in the new planning and regularly consults with his project managers. Thanks to his many years of experience, he provides advice and assistance and generates new impulses.

Throughout his more than 40-year career at AGCO Fendt, there have been many challenging and exciting projects. However, entire factory structure planning in the transmission plant is quite special and something you rarely experience even after such a long career. And with his passion and motivation it will certainly not be the last project at AGCO Fendt.
Staufen AG has appointed four experts to accompany this project. In close collaboration, the layout creation is implemented in two steps. In the first step, the team develops an “ideal factory.” This means there are no restrictions, e.g. hall design or fixed aspects, that must be taken into account during planning. In the second step, the “real factory” is designed. Planning focuses on appropriately integrating the value streams into the existing conditions. Fixed sizes, such as the hall shape or fixed aspects, are taken into account here. 

Forging a new structure by hand 

Developing the block layout takes place manually. With the help of colored cardboard boxes, scissors, and glue, machine blocks are cut out by hand and positioned on the layout with pins. It is important to involve Fendt employees in the process, as well as their previous experience. This creative task is extremely valuable for conceptual teamwork. The CAD layout was then created based on this.

Ekkehart Gläser, Managing Director Production and Quality, is very satisfied at the halfway point of the project: “The structured approach to the analysis of the manufacturing processes enabled the project team to clearly define future value streams. As a small series manufacturer with a large number of variants, it is very important for us to achieve the right balance between cost efficiency and flexibility in the restructuring. In doing so, Staufen AG and our employees have led us in the right direction.”

By 2022, the restructuring of transmission manufacturing will be implemented. 

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