Smart Interchangeable Cases

A practical project with XBond GmbH & Co. KG from Ahaus

3 Container auf einem Platz | © Firma xbond

The company XBond from Ahaus-Ottenstein was founded in 1981 as Räckers GmbH & Co KG. Today, the family business has around 200 employees and produces on an area of around 20,000 square meters. Siblings Claus and Eva Räckers, who are the second generation to run the company, approached the Mittelstand 4.0 Competence Center in Lingen to implement a joint project. The metalworking company is a supplier, technology partner and manufacturer in vehicle construction and a number of other sectors. It manufactures so-called swap bodies, colloquially known as containers, for the national and international market. These cases with support legs can be transported by interchangeable trucks, but are also suitable for rail transport. The company also offers the development and production of a wide range of metal and steel components and assemblies as well as their surface finishing.


The current Situation

XBond manufactures both standardized and custom-made swap bodies. After the products are delivered to the customer, in most cases the company does not find out "whether the product actually needs to be the way it is," explains Dr. Adrian Istrate, also university management at XBond. Is it robust enough or too robust? Do the properties match the customer's requirements? Customers rarely report back on how long a case has been in use. Whether, when or how defects have occurred remains hidden. Data on the loading situation, temperature and the actual use of the cases is usually unknown. However, this could help to further improve the life cycle of the cases and thus generate added value for customers.



The Project

"We want the steel case to become an open book, the contents of which we can use to generate added value for our customers after reading it," says Eva Räckers, describing the idea behind the project. The aim is to develop a concept that will result in the concrete implementation of a "smart interchangeable case". The cases will automatically collect and process important data for customers and freight forwarders in real time. The aim is to derive key insights into the production process, design and benefits of the cases in order to optimize these factors for everyone involved. XBond wants to pay particular attention to sustainability, for which the knowledge gained will set new standards and serve as a role model. The concept aims to highlight which data is relevant and measurable and how it can be recorded in a meaningful way.


Further Details

Support program:

This project was carried out by the Mittelstand4.0 Competence Center Lingen as part of the Mittelstand4.0 initiative of the BMWK Ministry (Germany)

Contact us

Dr. Ann-Kristin CORDES
Endowed Professorship for Digital Business Transformation