Case study

Zumtobel Group AG

Sustainably avoiding residual dirt with perfect container cleaning:

A Cleanly Shining Example

Zumtobel Group‘s innovative lighting solutions need to meet elevated ergonomic, economical and ecological demands. This makes compliance with the most stringent cleanness requirements a necessity. In the group’s biggest lamp factory in Dornbirn, Austria, not only the parts are cleaned but the transport containers as well. Installation of a BUPI CLEANER® POWERTEC KLT cleaning system for small load carriers improved cleaning results and workplace conditions as well as process stability and substantially reduced power and water consumption.

Light creates perspectives. For more than 60 years, the Zumtobel Group has been designing lighting solutions that meet the most stringent ergonomic, economic and ecologic requirements and add esthetical value. The company has its corporate headquarters in Dornbirn, Austria, and is one of the few global players in the lighting industry. Zumtobel Group is pursuing a multiple brand strategy, covering all application areas of professional lighting with the lamp brands Zumtobel, Thorn and acdc. With the Tridonic brand, the company has leading in-house competences for innovative lighting components and systems.

Quality and Longevity

The fact that Zumtobel as well as Thorn offer a five-year warranty shows that outstanding design and top quality are more than just words for the Zumtobel Group. The company has implemented a comprehensive quality management to secure and permanently improve the excellent product and service quality.

“The uncompromised cleanness of all components required in the production process is a vital prerequisite for the elevated product quality we guarantee our customers,” says Reinhard Radoszticz. He is the group manager in charge of the production of Zumtobel und Thorn office and project lamps in the largest production facility of the Zumtobel Group. “Merely cleaning the components themselves between steps in the production process is not sufficient.”

Container Cleaning Indispensable

“Even the cleanest parts are subject to picking up dirt from the transport containers that are used several times,” says Martin Schaeffer, technical project assistant pre-fabrication at the Dornbirn plant. „Cleaning these vessels is indispensable to prevent the parts from picking up dirt during transport.”

Zumtobel had already recognised this twenty years ago and installed a heavy-duty dishwasher for the purpose. This and a cleaning station for removing persistent, usually oily residues by hand had been enough to meet requirements for some time. Over the years, however, the number of transport containers circulating throughout the facility has seen a steady growth. Currently, about 300 containers of all 18 types used pass through cleaning in each shift. In view of this, cycle times had increasingly become an issue. As the necessity for manual pre-cleaning was impossible to forecast, scheduling was also rather difficult. Consequentially, this also resulted in difficulties in staff allocation for this understandably rather unpopular activity.

Time for new Methods

For some years, the Zumtobel production planners had investigated alternatives. “The aim of our considerations was a standardised, simple process allowing us to produce consistent quality in spite of varying degrees of staining,” explains Reinhard Radoszticz. “It should also allow us to raise productivity while cleaning operations should require as little training or qualification as possible.”

Environmental aspects also played a significant role in these considerations. “The monthly water consumption of the existing machine amounted to 1,500 Litres,” explains Martin Schaeffer. “Although savings are minimal in terms of money, Zumtobel’s own claim to sustainability rendered a substantial reduction in the use of natural resources a worthy goal.”

The Solution Path

Starting in 2011, Zumtobel Group staff considered various approaches in search of a suitable solution. In-line cleaning systems were taken from the list due to their lack of flexibility at the given, comparatively low throughput, commercial dishwashers because of questionable cleaning results.

The breakthrough came during a visit to the parts2clean industrial parts cleaning trade show in Stuttgart, Germany. It was there that Reinhard Radoszticz met Johann Pamminger of MAP PAMMINGER GmbH, sales partner of BUPI Golser Maschinenbau GmbH for Austria. Following an in-depth review of the requirements, Pamminger presented a concise concept cantered on a BUPI CLEANER® POWERTEC KLT from BUPI Golser.

The compact two-tank cleaning system with a space-saving lifting gate was specifically designed to clean small load carriers (Kleinladungsträger; KLT). Pushed into the cleaning cage by hand, the containers rotate horizontally in the cleaning chamber during the cleaning process. They are sprayed on from three sides with a hot cleaning agent at high pressure and flow rates, then rinsed and finally blow-dried with hot air. All components of the system in contact with fluid are made of stainless steel. A reliably high and constant pressure and volume flow are provided by efficiency class IE3 pumps from premium manufacturer Grundfos. BUPI CLEANER® POWERTEC KLT systems are equipped with Siemens PLCs and particularly easy to operate.

An Improved Process

When another repair of the existing machine became inevitable, it was decided not to extend the life of the ageing equipment but to invest in an industrial container cleaning system instead, improving the production line’s fitness for future challenges.

The system features a 2.7 x 2.3 m (8‘10‘‘ by 7‘7‘‘) footprint and has commenced operations in mid-2015. “From the very first day, we achieved consistently perfect cleaning results without any manual intervention in spite of greatly different levels of soiling,” reports Reinhard Radoszticz. “All thanks to the easy to operate Siemens control system, we can consign any kind of personnel with the cleaning without any training worth speaking of, even interns.” Additionally, the installation of the BUPI CLEANER® POWERTEC KLT has reduced labour requirement for container cleaning by 60 percent, setting free employees previously solely assigned for this task so they are now available to do valuable work elsewhere in the production process.

The vapour extraction unit as part of the system’s standard equipment not only provides an agreeable, clean working environment. It also ensures that ambient conditions in the nearby coating and foam moulding stations remain unchanged.

A Sustainable Investment

During each cycle, the system cleans 12 large or 48 small standard containers. “In the beginning, we used the default settings, 20 minute program duration at 80°C (176°F) media temperature,” Martin Schaeffer recalls. “Step by step, we determined the optimal setting, 18 minutes at 60°C (140°F). This resulted in power consumption significantly lower than the manufacturer’s rating.” The BUPI CLEANER® POWERTEC KLT also enabled Zumtobel to substantially reduce water consumption. As the cleaning solution remains within the system, where it is kept in good serviceable condition using micro filtration among other things, water consumption was reduced from 1,500 Litres each month to 1,000 Litres for a six-month cleaning agent replacement cycle.

Using this small load carrier cleaning system, Zumtobel staff in charge of processes assures the efficient, economically and ecologically sustainable compliance with the group’s cleanness targets. As appetite comes with eating, application areas of the system are growing continuously. It is no longer used for cleaning only the transport containers but also for example the brush plates used in laser cutters. Meanwhile, the BUPI CLEANER® POWERTEC KLT has become an indispensable part of the production plant.