Manufacturing high-quality products is always serious business—even when the products are used for fun. KTM AG, for example, builds each of its off-road motorcycles with top-notch and thoroughly tested parts so that each model is “ready to race.” Riders of the motorcycles appreciate this level of commitment, and have driven KTM bikes to win more than 200 world championship titles over the past 27 years.
KTM is the largest motorcycle manufacturer in Europe, with annual sales of more than 200,000 off-road motorcycles worldwide. The company also makes a wide variety of street bikes and two-seater sports cars.
KTM’s impressive growth has brought with it some production challenges at its non-engine plant in Mattighofen, Austria. A major one, according to Christian Reiter, materials group manager at KTM, is the need for workers to better manage their use of fasteners and connecting components (i.e., C-parts) during the busy spring season.
Monitoring and re-ordering of C-parts was done manually for many years. Unfortunately, this approach often resulted in empty parts bins and production delays during the busy season.
To help workers respond better to seasonal fluctuations, KTM recently switched to the ECOSIT bin system made by the Bollhoff Group. This system consists of an RFID antenna, RFID tags on bin labels and enterprise resource planning (ERP) software. KTM kept its bin shelves, and with Bollhoff’s help, installed and commissioned the system in only one day.
During production, workers take parts from each bin as needed. Once a bin is empty, it is placed in a collection box next to the shelf, and data is automatically transmitted from the bin’s RFID tag to the ERP software. This process takes only a few seconds and immediately notifies stock workers, via computer, to promptly refill the specific bin.
Reiter and others at KTM are very impressed with the system, citing many important benefits. First, the risk of C-parts being unavailable has essentially been eliminated, thereby cushioning seasonal demand fluctuations in production.
In addition, delivery of replenishment parts requires no manual ordering and is considerably faster, easier and more reliable than before. Empty bins are often replaced within one day. According to Reiter, the ECOSIT system also reduces the need for excessive inventory, and improves inventory security and tidiness.
Bettina Schober, purchasing manager at KTM, says that, despite reducing inventory values, the RFID-based system enables the company to always stay on top of demand fluctuations in their material supply.
The system’s benefits convinced KTM to implement the ECOSIT system at the warehouse of its engine assembly plant in Munderfing, Austria. This warehouse features high shelves loaded with boxes and pallets of all the parts for engine assembly: spark plugs, pistons, transmission components, cylinder studs, clutch springs and electric starters. An SX-F engine, for example, consists of 389 parts and 78 screws.
Nearly 200 people work at Munderfing and produce 13 different types of engines. Daily production volume is 300 to 400 units, including two-stroke, four-stroke, single- and twin-cylinder models.
For more information on RFID-based fastener management systems, call 248-269-0475 or visit www.bollhoff.com/us.