Based in Furtwangen, Germany, Ketterer manufactures electromechanical drive systems. The company’s products are used to adjust the height of desks and workstations and are also deployed widely in entry systems, warehouses and the machinery industry.

Ketterer’s production area covers 4,400 square meters and includes a variety of machine tools and assembly equipment. Monitoring the status of all that equipment isn’t easy. Managers need to know as soon as possible whenever a machine stops running.

To make the task easier, Ketterer relies on signal towers and andon lights from WERMA Signaltechnik. These devices immediately show status changes of a machine and indicate disruptions to production. Managers can view the status of a line from some distance.

Ketterer uses the classic traffic light configuration of red, amber and green, since these are most readily understood. Red indicates an error or disruption to production that must be resolved immediately. Amber means that a machine is being reset. Green means that the machine is running normally.

Production machines are located in several workshops and different buildings. Signal towers show the status of the machines locally, but do not provide a centralized overview. The production manager, Julian Markon, wanted to gain transparency of the complete production operation by seeing the status of all machines in one view.

After researching various systems, WERMA’s wireless machine monitoring system, SmartMonitor, proved to be the best option. Plug-and-play wireless kits were added to existing signal towers to monitor the status and output of machines, equipment and manual workstations. This data is transmitted wirelessly to a receiver connected to an SQL database. WERMA’s software then compiles the data to produce simple visuals and comprehensive reports at the touch of a button.

“The system really is simple, quick to install, and ready for use—we installed it on machines in the morning and had the first data in the afternoon,” says Markon.

The most important data generated by the SmartMonitor system concerns Ketterer’s CNC lathes. “This shows us how productive these machines are and where improvements are needed,” says Markon.

The company takes full advantage of the displays generated by the software. In the production manager’s office, the control station view is used. Near the machines themselves, the current run-time of orders is displayed. Markon’s view includes the entire shop floor layout, so it is easy to identify which machine is being displayed and where it is located.

Four large screens have been installed throughout the factory so everyone can see the status of all the machines. The machine operators also use the screens to monitor their own activity and help colleagues react if there is a problem on one of their machines that they might not have immediately seen.

“In the past, a machine going down often remained unnoticed for too long. Now, the team supports each other and works to the common goal of improving reaction times and reducing downtime,” says Markon.

Ketterer has been using the WERMA system now for more than one year and productivity on the CNC lathes has already improved by more than 15 percent.

“Productivity improved almost immediately from 60 to 80 percent. We hardly believed that such an improvement could be achieved so quickly,” says Markon. “The system gives accurate and impartial data that we can really use.”

Ketterer is happy with the WERMA technology and is already extending its application. Four more signal light sets, including the SmartMonitor kits, have been ordered for the gear cutting machines.

For more information on signal technology and data collection, call 315-414-0200 or visit