Shortening of offer process for complex machine systems


Winkel GmbH, based in Illingen, Germany, manufactures a large variety of parts, components and systems for intelligent motion control, ranging from combined bearings to complex handling systems. The exact CAD models are available online so that designers anywhere in the world can integrate these modules into their own designs. They can do this using the special technologies developed by TraceParts. At the moment, an innovative online configuration is being developed for Winkel’s complex systems.

There is nothing new in the idea of being able to download standard parts, such as ball bearings or a hydraulic cylinder, as a virtual model from the Internet – even in native data format – and integrate them in your own design. However, attention should also be paid to the quality aspects. Any part, from anywhere, does not necessarily match the relevant real part. But, anyone who wants to be reliable and also efficient, including when it comes to a process chain, has no option but to use authorized, easy-to-use catalogs that are always up to date. On, for instance, there are more than 100 million parts available in more than 300 catalogs.

Winkel palette stacker, an example of the many handling and motion control systems that the company builds

Winkel palette stacker, an example of the many handling and motion control systems that the company builds.

New options mean easier use

Users are being offered quite a different, new aspect ensuring easy use if they can now configure complex mechanisms online in the way they want, and then download them in native data format.

Anyone requiring these CAD models nowadays usually orders them from their supplier, in most cases as part of a quotation process. The manufacturer of the modules then works on the design of this special quotation model for 1 to 3 days, and submits it with the quotation. The period between the enquiry and the delivery is quite often 1 to 2 weeks.
Not only is this way of working out of date, but it is also too costly.

A better solution can be provided using state-of-the-art configuration technology. How good this solution can be is demonstrated by a project which the part and component manufacturer Winkel GmbH is currently working on with TraceParts.

“Innovation in motion”

Winkel GmbH, located in Illingen, between Stuttgart and the Black Forest, was founded nearly 30 years ago.“We started off then by selling components for ground conveyors,” explains managing partner Christian Winkel.

The company developed a combined bearing system soon after this. Winkel combined bearings can absorb both radial and axial forces. They can be used to move lots of machines and lifting equipment vertically and horizontally in an efficient manner. They have thick-walled rails and other accessories to support this. This system module can be used to handle loads ranging from 10 kg to 100 metric tonnes. Thanks to the module’s wide variety, e.g. rails made of stainless steel, bearings with a plastic coating, and much more, it can be used in almost every sector.

In addition to this, Winkel also builds complete systems: portal robots, lifting systems, lifting and turning systems, automated guided vehicle systems, work platforms, etc. The overwhelming focus during implementation is on the customer’s wishes, right down to single-piece components. This is why 15 of Winkel’s 120 employees are designers. “Customization is one of our strengths,”stresses Christian Winkel,“as are quick delivery times.”

Cross-section of Winkel combined bearing as one of the numerous possible designs

Cross-section of Winkel combined bearing as one of the numerous possible designs.

All parts available online

Winkel’s main catalog contains roughly 400 pages. It has been Winkel’s intention for a long time to have the parts it contains online too, making them available at any time, worldwide. This is also why the company has been cooperating with TraceParts already for 10 years.

TraceParts creates the online catalogs and makes them available on the Internet. Winkel is, as Christian Winkel emphasizes, “very pleased” with this job. If Winkel launches new products on the market, TraceParts puts them online immediately.

However, this is not such an easy task in the case of complex mechanisms, such as multi-axis handling systems. The form may be too diverse to be able to put every part individually online. This then gives rise to the long-winded quotation process, mentioned earlier, which requires a lot of the designer’s time.
This process is now changing thanks to the configuration technology from TraceParts, which operates reliably.

Winkel provides the CAD geometry to TraceParts, along with all the information required to configure relevant models. “We convert this data to a configurable CAD model, add all the necessary information in the form of rules, formulas or table accesses, thereby making the mechanism configurable online,” explains Christian Baumgärtner, Managing Director at TraceParts in Amberg, Germany.

Users can access the configuration system via the standard procedure on or by visiting the Winkel homepage. If users access the system via TraceParts, Winkel obviously receives the finished configuration at the end of the process too, as it is automatically transferred to its IT system so that all the subsequent process steps can be carried out directly.

Christian Winkel, managing partner at Winkel GmbH, presents here some of his company’s new products

Christian Winkel, managing partner at Winkel GmbH, presents here some of his company’s new products.

Winkel has implemented two lifting systems so far, which are already being used. All the other systems for which Winkel has signed a framework agreement with TraceParts should be available by the end of 2012.
In this case, therefore, an opportunity has been provided, thanks to TraceParts, for manufacturers of complex systems as well to be able to create online catalogs, with all the benefits this entails, which is: ultimately saving both the manufacturer and user time, money and nervous energy. Any company that capitalizes on these opportunities quickly will have the edge over its rivals…

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