International added value through localised support
Headquartered in Sint-Truiden (Belgium), with production lines in Germany, Mexico, China and Romania, VCST is one of the world’s largest manufacturers and suppliers for the automotive industry. It is part of the Belgian BMT Group, with business in various industries, in all corners of the world.
How occasional training led to all-round technical partnership
VCST Automotive Production Alba is among the first customers in Romania that itsme ES Elektro provided, and still provides, a full package of services to: the supply of electrical and electrotechnical materials, training, consultancy and technical support for industrial automation.
Their collaboration started in 2012, the year in which the international group VCST started its operations in Romania. Following a short period in which it supplied electrical and electrotechnical equipment, itsme ES Elektro was requested to provide training for the maintenance team. In total, four courses were delivered over time by the itsme ES Elektro specialists, especially for the maintenance of Siemens components and equipment.
“I remember the first course. It was in 2012, at the request of engineer Ioan Lupu, maintenance manager at VCST. I conducted that course in a high school building in Alba Iulia and everything went very well. Things have evolved during subsequent courses and I delivered them in a very professional environment, either in the training room of ES Elektro, or in specially arranged conference rooms”, says Silviu Laslău, product specialist in the Industrial Automation department of ES Elektro.
“Starting from these courses, the partnership between the two companies has taken on new proportions. We find in VCST an open partner, willing to discuss various problems that their maintenance crews encounter. VCST engineers had many technical questions. They were looking for solutions to various problems related to their equipment, and we were there to help them. That’s how we began to provide them with technical support as well”, adds Silviu Laslău.
“Starting from these courses, the partnership between the two companies has taken on new proportions”
The Industrial Automation department of itsme ES Elektro provides technical support for automation, in particular PLC, HMI, convertors and collaborative robots, trying to address the questions related to software and hardware, coming from the customers through Technical Support.
The first technical problem VCST resolved with the help of ES Elektro, occurred in a machine controlled by a Siemens Simatic S7-300 PLC, configured on two racks: the central rack and an extension. The connection between the two was made through IM 360 interface modules. One of the sensors on the machine was activated physically, but its signal would not reach the PLC program. Eventually, the itsme ES Elektro engineers discovered that one of the IM360 interface modules had failed, and they replaced it.
Another problem was a machine that no longer operated correctly. The itsme ES Elektro specialists saved the situation. It concerned the communication via Profibus between a Siemens Simatic S7-300 PLC and a computer. The computer had an integrated Profibus communication board and that board had failed.
itsme ES Elektro helped with another problem as well. VCST had to replace a Simatic S7-1200 PLC with a new one and could not load the program. Why? An error had occurred in the firmware. The issue was successfully remedied.
At one point, VCST had problems with a Field PG and lost all Simatic licenses. Dangerous situation. Together with the specialists from the Industrial Automation Department of ES Elektro, following the specific procedures from Siemens – known in detail by them – the VCST team managed to recover them all in a timely manner.
Software Update Service agreement
“After that moment, considering that our factory benefits from the latest technologies, with the contribution of itsme ES Elektro we concluded a Software Update Service (SUS) agreement for Siemens licenses so that every time a new version of the Simatic software is released we receive it for free under this agreement”, explains Alin Stănilă, maintenance engineer at VCST.
“Our factory combines the recent past with the future in terms of technology and in this process we constantly need the support of ES Elektro. It’s been an efficient and beneficial collaboration from the beginning, on all levels. We discovered that itsme ES Elektro has the required level of professionalism to be an important partner for us, now and in the future”, adds the VCST representative.
“Our factory combines the recent past with the future in terms of technology and in this process we constantly need the support of ES Elektro”
Over the past years, VCST has commissioned several collaborative robots from Universal Robots. Therefore, a need for technical support for these emerged in the area of automation and engineering. itsme ES Elektro was and is there, ready to help.
In fact, ES Elektro’s support team is ready to approach and provide solutions for any technical problem raised by its partners from the industry or for any challenges related to the extensive automation process of many companies. In addition, itsme ES Elektro is pleased to train specialists from these companies who will then be able to operate the implemented technologies by themselves.
Through the International Accounts department, the requests coming from customers from all over the world are centralised, and itsme ES Elektro provides them with precise solutions in a very short time.
About VCSTVCST company specialises in the production of high-precision components, such as gears, sprockets, spare parts, ABS braking systems, but also deals with design or prototypes. Its customer portfolio includes names like Audi, Caterpillar, Continental, Cummins, DAF, General Motors, Punch Powertrain and Volkswagen.
Alba Iulia (Romania) subsidiary VCST Automotive Production Alba, holds a top position as a supplier of high-precision components. It was established in 2012 and currently has over 300 employees and over €30 million in revenues.