In 1923, Albrecht Schnizler designed a hand-cranked drill dubbed the Metallbohrdreher, or “metal drill driver.” That drill became the inspiration for the brand Metabo.

Today, Metabo manufactures a variety of pneumatic and electric tools, including angle grinders, screwdrivers, saws, vacuums and—still—drills. The company employs some 2,000 people, 1,200 of whom are based in Nürtingen, Germany.

Tobias Weißhaar has been working for Metabo since 2010, beginning as an industrial mechanic. “After my training, I worked as a ‘supplier’ and supplied my colleagues in assembly with material,” says Weißhaar. “That gave me a wide range of insights into our processes and logistics.”

The young man was quickly appointed deputy team leader of the assembly department, but then decided to hit the school bench again. After passing the master craftsman’s examination, a challenging position awaited him at Metabo: As a team coordinator in assembly, he ensures that assembly lines run smoothly, and he supervises various projects to increase efficiency and optimize processes.

“Thanks to my own involvement in assembly, I already knew where problems could arise in the process,” he recalls. “I can now build on this and tackle individual process steps in a targeted manner to permanently optimize them.”

More than 180 employees work in assembly at Metabo. Weißhaar is responsible for packaging cordless tools. Here, the tools, including accessories, are assembled, packaged and labelled ready for dispatch to the customer. “At each of the 11 packing workstations, the basic machine is assembled with the corresponding accessories,” says Weißhaar. “To this end, the employees receive the material directly from the logistics specialists.”

Weißhaar quickly recognized considerable potential for optimization: “We have well-equipped assembly and packing workstations with motivated and great employees—but I noticed that there were always longer waiting and idle times when materials or supplies were needed. We needed to find a solution—and fast.”

Weißhaar got to work looking for ways to optimize this process and reduce idle times.

“My basic idea was that the employee would signal directly from his seat if he needed help, supplies or material,” he says. “We quickly stuck a green card on one side of a broomstick and a red card on the other. This made it easy for employees to use the traffic light principle to indicate whether everything was OK (green) or whether they need help (red).

“Of course, we knew that using a broom handle like this was just a temporary solution. However, we were sure that we wanted to maintain the traffic light principle.”

In a fortuitous coincidence, it was then that signal device manufacturer WERMA Signaltechnik asked Metabo if it would like to be the first user of a new product, WeASSIST, being developed for process optimization.

“We already knew WERMA and had been relying on its products for a long time. Of course, we immediately agreed,” Weißhaar explains. “WeASSIST turned out to be perfect for our requirements.”

WeASSIST hardware and software is quickly deployed. The technology can easily be retrofit into existing structures. “Because it is a cloud solution, you can always stay on top of things from anywhere using any devices,” says Weißhaar. “I can immediately see, by glancing at my smartphone, laptop or shift supervisor’s PC, which workstation needs help.”

The company implemented the technology at four of the 11 workstations in the cordless tool area. This initial implementation was so successful that three other workstations were equipped with WeASSIST.

“The WERMA solution met all our expectations,” says Weißhaar. “I was enthusiastic from the very first minute and still am. I hope we can use the system in other departments and areas.”

WeASSIST is a plug-and-play system for monitoring production and logistics processes. It is cloud-based, easy to install, retrofittable and scalable. Whether used on individual machines or entire systems, WeASSIST provides visibility into production—digitally and in real time. This helps engineers identify problems before they arise and to optimize processes.

“It is particularly great that the system consists of software and hardware,” says Weißhaar. “You get a single package, and you can get started right away.”

Weißhaar is pleased with the wide range of analysis and evaluation options. All relevant data is clearly displayed regardless of the source. Once the hardware is integrated into a machine or workstation, engineers configure the software and dashboards and assign roles and users. All integrated machines and workstations will immediately report their status directly to the software via a gateway. This allows problems to be identified right away and processes to be optimized constantly through analysis.

For more information on process optimization technology, visit