Quality control: Eislingen lubricant experts convert former company laboratory into high-tech quality control laboratory
Quality and quality assurance have always been central themes in the product strategy of Zeller+Gmelin. The lubricant experts have built a new test laboratory for this purpose on the traditional factory premises in Eislingen. In the future, as many parameters as possible are to be carried out in the high-tech facility on the basis of current test instructions, thus significantly accelerating the testing and release process.
When it comes to application-specific lubricants for industry, lubricants for vehicles and machines as well as printing inks and chemical products, companies all over the world rely on Zeller+Gmelin. Since 1866, the Eislingen-based company has been developing and manufacturing product and process solutions that set new standards in terms of performance, reliability and cost-effectiveness. In order to maintain the high level of product quality, all products are subjected to stringent test criteria.
The investment decision for a new laboratory building and the conversion of an existing building was already made in autumn 2018. Up to now, the quality control department LC (formerly the company laboratory MC) has been housed in one of the first buildings on the factory premises dating from 1898. "The working conditions in this old building no longer met the requirements of a modern QC laboratory," says Dr. Roland von der Recke, Head of Quality Control LC at Zeller+Gmelin, explaining the decision. "We therefore see the new laboratory building as a trend-setting and future-oriented project that will give our quality strategy completely new impulses".
Laying in stages during Corona
The move to the new QC laboratory was initially scheduled for the end of April 2020, but due to the Covid19 pandemic, the relocation took place in stages. However, some quality control staff have already been able to start working in the new laboratory. Since the beginning of April, they have been carrying out some of the release-relevant regulations there.
In addition to the laboratory rooms for quality control LC, a separate QC laboratory for lubricating greases is currently being set up, which is thus in the immediate vicinity of the "Lubricating Grease Development". "Our laboratory is state-of-the-art", Daniel Knospe, head of plant technology at Zeller+Gmelin, is also pleased to report. For example, the premises have been equipped with a generous number of fume cupboards so that work with hazardous or odour-intensive chemicals can be carried out under optimum conditions. In addition, all workstations are equipped with exhaust slots that continuously extract air from the laboratory tables. There are also various connections for technical gases so that an extension of the analytical regulations can be realised at any time. In addition, sufficient space is available for QC tests relevant to approval, although the measuring instruments still have to be "moved".
Process optimisation in the area of sample transport
When the location of the new QC laboratory was decided, the process of transporting samples from production to the laboratory was also questioned. After all, this involves almost 10,000 samples per year, which have to be transferred from the various production lines to the QC laboratory. Accordingly, the construction of a pneumatic tube system was carried out in parallel, which will ensure the future transport of samples from production and within the laboratory building 24/3. "This measure contributes to a further increase in efficiency in production as well as in the QC laboratory, as we can significantly minimise the transport times of the samples," summarises Dr. Roland von der Recke, head of QC.
Construction project in record time
Construction work began in autumn 2019 with the demolition of a tank farm for transmission oils and was completed shortly before Christmas. At the beginning of 2020, the electrical installation and the installation of the ventilation system on the roof were still being carried out, while at the same time the installation for sanitary and heating supply as well as the technical gases were being carried out. Afterwards the installation of the pneumatic tube system took place. With the commissioning of the ventilation system and acceptance of the laboratory furniture, the laboratory was finally technically ready for use at the end of March 2020. Thanks to the spatial separation of the department, Zeller+Gmelin ensured that the quality controls could still be carried out even if one of the teams was absent.