As an expert in laser machining, MeKo Manufacturing e. K. produces components for many branches of industry, including medical technology companies.
Maximum precision is the number one priority in production – and accuracy is essential in quality control, too. In the quality control department, sensitive measuring devices are used to test the manufactured components. Special work bench systems are needed to ensure these devices can be positioned securely and operated correctly. The work benches need to offer exceptional flexural rigidity and extremely low vibration levels. When it came to fitting out a new building, MeKo therefore chose item to supply more than 100 specially and attractively designed work benches that satisfy all these requirements.
MeKo Manufacturing e. K. specialises in high-precision laser machining. This family business manufactures a variety of products and is a global supplier to customers in a range of sectors, including medical technology, mechanical engineering, factory equipment engineering and the aviation and automotive industries. MeKo employs over 300 workers at its Sarstedt site near Hanover. item and MeKo have worked together closely for almost 20 years now. Many constructions made from item aluminium profiles and the corresponding fastening elements have already been delivered to the Sarstedt site, where they have mainly been used in factory equipment engineering and to fit out office and production spaces. Equally, when it comes to machining its own products, item makes use of MeKo laser cutting expertise.
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Protecting sensitive devices from vibrations
This latest project involved fitting out the quality control department in a new MeKo building with over 100 work bench systems. High-precision measuring devices are placed on the work benches, so various special requirements had to be met. The tiniest of components – mainly from the medical technology sector, such as stents and heart valve frames – are inspected and assessed at these work benches, with the help of high-resolution microscopes. “Our measuring devices are exceptionally sensitive,” explains Tim Igelmann from the Research and Development department at MeKo. “This means, more than anything, that the work bench systems must minimise vibration and be rigid,” he continues. Another key priority for this family business is ergonomics, since MeKo is aiming to ensure that more than 80 percent of its work benches are ergonomic in the future. The ability to adjust the height was therefore one of the basic requirements for the new work benches. However, the problem with this is that electrically height-adjustable work benches tend to jolt when starting and stopping, often causing vibrations that can have a detrimental impact on measuring instruments and sensitive components.
While work benches from other manufacturers were unable to meet the MeKo requirements in terms of both rigidity and flexibility, the item ones were certainly up to the job. “We developed a work bench system on which users can mount even heavy microscopes and operate them with minimal vibration,” says Patrik Schendel, Project Manager at item. “This system has been designed to ensure it can even safely bear loads in excess of 200 kilograms.” This is possible thanks to two powerful lifting columns that are located on the left and right sides of the work bench and can be used to adjust its height electrically. Set working heights can be saved and easily called up again via the control system. item has achieved the necessary high level of rigidity by locating the table columns centrally at the sides. MeKo manufactured matching cantilever feet made of stainless steel.
Expanded basic frame meets a range of requirements
Each work bench consists of a subframe and an upper structure comprising a table top, a cable duct and two shelves. The work bench system table tops are each 1800 mm long and 600 mm wide. Although the basic frame of the many work benches is identical, the upper structure was customised to suit specific tasks and work processes. For example, item supplied different table tops, some coated with HPL and others made from beech multi-ply. Some of the designs were expanded to include magnetic rear walls, protective barriers at the sides or enclosures. item fitted other basic frames with illuminated magnifiers, thus providing workers with optimal support for carrying out intricate tasks. A special compressed air connection was also integrated in some cases. What’s more, not all the work benches have shelves. “Working in close collaboration, we created two versions of the work bench system,” Schendel explains. “These are being modified and enhanced on an ongoing basis. For example, MeKo recently placed an order for another 1250 cover profiles, so it can close over open grooves to keep dust and dirt out,” he continues.
Iterative process planning and flexible design
“item developed and implemented various concepts, which helped us move ever closer to the optimum solution. We tested the variants and ultimately decided on two different designs,” explains Igelmann. The sample work benches were then assembled on site at item, where they were subsequently signed off by MeKo. More than 100 fully assembled benches were then delivered by several trucks. Additional work benches can be made according to this template if required in the future. The modular design also means the basic frames can be modified at any time, so they can be quickly and easily reconfigured as projects and work processes change.
“We’re really impressed with the item Building Kit System,” emphasises Igelmann. “The designs can be expanded with countless components, making them highly adaptable in terms of both different processes and specific employee needs. This is a particular advantage of the item system compared to other manufacturers who can only supply standard tables,” he continues. Thanks to their ergonomic design, the installed work bench systems provide staff with exactly the support they need for their work, offering them a tidy and functional base at which they can complete their demanding tasks. All the materials they require are located within easy reach inside the handling area. However, it’s not just the functionality of the systems that has impressed. “The design of the item components is really attractive,” says Igelmann. “Clear lines and shapes combined with stability, flexibility and ergonomics create a coherent overall look. It ticked all the boxes for us.”