Liebherr is making a major investment in its Ehingen facility, Germany. Founded in 1969, Liebherr-Werk Ehingen GmbH manufactures various mobile and crawler cranes for the global market, with a factory area of around 900,000 sq m.
Called the ‘plant development logistics’ project, or WeLog Project in short, the investment includes building work at the Ehingen site, the restructuring of the material flows, a new repair centre in the Ehingen suburb of Berg, and the introduction of a new ERP system. This massive project is scheduled for completion in 2024.
According to Liebherr, the project - amounted to a sum in the high two-figure millions - aims to ensure that materials are stored and transported efficiently and smartly, while internal procedures will be simplified to ensure that production can continue without interruption in the future. This effort is expected to result in further improvements to the company’s quality of mobile and crawler cranes.
“Currently around 2,000 mobile and crawler cranes leave our plant in Ehingen every year. That is an extremely high number, and represents almost a two-fold increase over the last 20 years,” explained Liebherr’s production director Ulrich Heusel. “Now there is an urgent necessity to adjust our structures and material flows at the plant accordingly.
“We produce at a high tempo, but we nonetheless have to remain flexible as some of our customers want short term modifications to their cranes – depending on the order content. And we can only guarantee this flexibility, whilst maintaining our high quality and assembly speed, by making these investments.”
The Ehingen site currently has a workforce of over 3,500 people. Liebherr’s CFO Daniel Pitzer emphasised that “the plant development logistics project will not threaten any jobs, and in fact it is more likely to create additional jobs in the long term.”
Construction of Ehingen site
Building work has already started on the Ehingen site. The existing main warehouse will be split into a warehouse for spare parts and a warehouse for standard production, involving the erection of several new buildings.
Construction of the new spare parts warehouse commenced in the second quarter of 2020. Extensive work on the foundation is required to create the highly modern complex, consisting of a truck gate, two-storey hall area, high-bay shelving warehouse and small parts warehouse.
Here, large drilling rigs from Liebherr’s sister plant in Nenzing (Austria) drilled 465 holes for auger piles - which are anchored in the foundation soil at depths of between 18 m and 33 m. This will also make it possible to generate energy for the new building using geothermics. The new spare parts and shipment warehouse is due to be completed and fully operational by 2024.
The other warehouse, designed for parts required for the standard production of mobile and crawler cranes, will feature two buildings – the first one is a pallet warehouse, while the second one is to house a small parts warehouse and a ‘goods supermarket’. The first parts from the existing warehouse are planned to be transferred to the new standard production warehouse before the end of 2021.
Besides constructing the new buildings, Liebherr has also had to make significant changes to the road system within the plant to access the work sites whilst maintaining all the current procedures.
“When you look at everything going on at the plant at the moment, in terms of new buildings and processes, we can definitely say that we are making the Ehingen site fit for the future. And the Liebherr family is spending in the high two-figure millions for this purpose. This is a clear signal to the whole workforce and the town of Ehingen,” said Mr Pitzer.
New repair centre and ERP system
Earthwork has also commenced in the Ehingen suburb of Berg at the start of 2021, where the new repair centre is located. “By outsourcing the repair centre, we will be able to significantly improve the services we offer to our customers, particularly in southern Germany,” said Christoph Kleiner, Liebherr’s managing director sales.
“We are also expecting to be able to take on service orders, which in the past we were unable to accept due to restricted capacities. Furthermore, this will create some of the space we urgently require for the new warehouse building at the main factory site.”
The relocation and commissioning of the new repair and administration building in Berg is scheduled for mid-2022.
In addition, Liebherr is working on the introduction of a new Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system, which is described as the heart of the company. It comprises a large number of inter-communicating IT systems or databases within a company. This highly complex production and planning system controls the whole business and also manages all the master data required for the task.
The new system, InforLN, will initially be introduced in the customer service section, which is expected to take place in mid-2022. The new repair centre in southern Germany will also use this new software package as soon as it starts operations. By mid-2024, all the divisions that make up Liebherr-Werk Ehingen GmbH will have been migrated to the new InforLN software package. At the same time, InforLN will also be introduced at the Liebherr-Werk Ehingen GmbH subsidiaries based in Germany, Oberhausen and Alt-Bork.