22 July, 2024

Eaton continues to build on its long history and reputation at Walterscheid in Germany

24 February, 2021

Eaton has completed a major programme of investment and reorganisation at its Lohmar plant, a facility that manufactures the Walterscheid range of class-leading tube fittings and connectors. Central to the investment is a new automated multi-station rotary transfer machine and feeding system that will further enhance the high quality standards, has cut cycle times and brought greater flexibility to production processes. In turn, the factory now has greater propensity to provide Walterscheid tube-fitting users with just-in-time (JIT) deliveries.

Eaton’s Lohmar facility in Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany, is a technical leader in tube-fitting solutions with its system technology (forming systems, cutting ring systems), machine technology (machines are developed and produced in-house) and coating technology (Guardian Seal). To support the breadth and quality of its products, the plant recently set about adding even further value to its customer service offer.

Evolving marketplace

OEMs no longer want to keep stock of hydraulic tube fittings as it adds to their inventory. With increasing numbers of manufacturers adapting to JIT deliveries, Eaton’s Lohmar plant is responding accordingly.

The facility today provides complete automation across its manufacturing process for Walterscheid tube fittings, a strategy that also allows the checking of every part for conformity to design specification. By having key processes in-house, quality and production control have increased to even higher levels.

Plant manager Tom Nakonz says: “The challenge was huge as our portfolio encompasses many different product sizes and types. To produce so many variants against short lead times we had to map our approach carefully. It was clear that the only way we could react quickly in the event of unexpected peaks was to provide a comprehensive service in-house, from manufacturing through to direct distribution.”

Eaton’s ‘factory of the future’ not only provides the capacity to meet scheduled production runs, but fulfil minimum order quantities. The project also boosts the production of newly developed core products and provides an enhanced work environment for Eaton teams.

Shorter cycle times

The plant’s new manufacturing and feeding system for Walterscheid tube fittings introduces many capabilities. Non-straight parts such as elbows, tees and crosses require precision manufacturing, hence the acquisition of a new automatic rotary transfer machine for forged tube fittings. The machine features three multi-axis robot arms that provide automated loading and unloading to meet high-volume manufacturing. Complementing the robots are 12 workstations, which facilitate high production flexibility and reduce cycle times significantly by allowing the machining process to be broken down into stages.

“In total, the rotary transfer machine offers 24 processing stations with 2-3 units per workstation to minimise the set-up time for producing our broad tube-fitting portfolio, which extends from 6 to 42 mm in size,” explains Production Manager Sven Trommelen. “Notably, the new machine and linked feeding system can reduce cycle times, significantly improving capacity, while the automated feeding of forgings increases efficiency and allows every part to be checked.”

High throughput capacity permits Eaton Walterscheid to respond rapidly to scheduled demand. The Lohmar plant retains a large stock of core items so it can provide JIT delivery services. Furthermore, the facility is achieving a reduction in lead-time of up to two weeks for the delivery of small batches and special items.

Highlighting the Lohmar facility’s shift to digitalisation, the supplier of the rotary transfer machine has remote system access to perform updates and, if required, fault diagnosis. This IoT capability means downtime is minimised to ensure the availability of products for customers.

Better new product development

Capacity also now exists for more efficient new product development (NPD). The company’s long-standing goal is to anticipate market needs and create successful new and innovative concepts that allow it to maintain a competitive advantage. Eaton Walterscheid has a proven NPD process in place to help deliver this ambition. Firstly, the company defines product requirements based on market needs, before performing in-depth market analysis and ‘Voice of the Customer’ interviews to identify pain points and the product attributes needed to solve them.

After developing the product concept, and implementing and validating the design, field tests at customer premises ensure the product’s suitability for the application. The production engineering team then creates processes for high-volume manufacturing and validates the product through mechanical testing according to related specifications. Finally, the company will begin accumulating stock levels and communicate the product launch to market.

In-house, in control

To ensure production control and quality for customers, the Lohmar plant of Eaton Walterscheid® has all departments under one roof, including goods inwards, manufacturing, quality control, product engineering, NPD, quotation and warehousing.

Lohmar also houses an applications engineering department that provides customer support for application-related issues or machine service. The machine department is another business function on site, where the production of forming- and assembly machines takes place for Eaton Walterscheid® tube fittings and cutting rings.

In-house testing offers the capability to perform all tests listed in DIN EN ISO 19879, including: pressure-impulse and reverse bending tests; burst tests; salt spray tests (according to DIN EN ISO 9227); and assembly tests (manual and automated). The company’s high-end test rigs reflect the toughest international standards, allowing the simulation of customer applications to optimise solutions and identify the best possible product for their needs.

The Lohmar plant exports to all countries in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, as well as further afield, including China, Taiwan, the US, Mexico, Canada, Brazil and Australia.

Walterscheid tube connectors


In profile: Eaton Walterscheid

Walterscheid, a leading German manufacturer of hydraulic tube fittings, connectors and cutting rings, became part of Eaton in 2004. Known worldwide for the breadth, quality and ease-of-use of its product line, Walterscheid solutions find application in a broad range of mobile and industrial equipment, including agricultural machinery, construction vehicles and machine tools.

Eaton Walterscheid also offers customers an extensive portfolio of customised special fittings, regardless of the quantity involved. The plant in Lohmar, Germany, is able to produce any quantity - from very small batches to regular bulk shipments - at competitive prices thanks to its flexible machinery and the option of minimum purchase quantities



Fit for purpose

The Walterscheid tube fitting and connector series offers reliable, leak-free performance with high bending and impulse resistance. With three different ways to create a connection, the Walterscheid system provides a complete solution for any tube-fitting requirements and can overcome an extensive range of application challenges.

Innovative design features facilitate simple, safe and repeatable manual assembly, or the use of Eaton Walterscheid high-performance machines makes assembly even quicker and easier. In addition, proprietary Guardian Seal surface plating enables high corrosion resistance without affecting assembly. A trio of core product families are available:

WALPRO: a cost-efficient and easy solution that also allows manual assembly. WALPRO enables leak free performance and short bending lengths for greater application flexibility.

WALRING: for those with a manual assembly process looking to reduce errors. WALRING facilitates additional soft sealing and easy assembly.

WALFORM: for the most demanding, high-pressure and high-vibration applications where safety is crucial. WALFORM enables additional sealing, easy machine assembly and robust performance. Furthermore, WALFORM-SR extends WALFORM’s advantages to thin-wall tubing, while WALFORM-M offers metallic sealing without a soft seal for applications featuring aggressive media or very high temperatures





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