“If you want quality, you have to buy quality”
“Cheap machines can never produce high-quality products,” says Hans Tekeser. That’s why he buys a new, top-value machine every year. He tells us why this always pays off.
Herr Tekeser, your company works primarily as a supplier to the automobile industry. Isn’t it a bit risky working for just one sector, especially one that’s under such great cost pressures?
You experience this pressure everywhere, now that U.S. rationalization trend has reached us in Europe. However, we have been doing business with the automobile industry for quite a few years and realize that we always have to take the first step. That is why we are always among the forerunners when it comes to new technologies and combinations of technologies. By doing so, we definitely exert an influence on part design. If, for instance, a customer has a requirement for 2,000 parts with highly complex geometry, but the tooling is likely to cost 50,000 euros, we first ask whether that is the right approach — and then offer the customer alternatives.
Quite unusual for a supplier to get so deeply involved in engineering and design…
That may be, but we have the expertise that’s needed. Consequently, our customers are normally open to our proposals. I have both engineering and commercial backgrounds. This lets me sit down with the customer, discuss how a part could be manufactured more economically, and calculate — right then and there — precisely how much it will cost. It always helps to have all our machines and processing techniques in the back of my mind. I can sort out the options and propose the ideal solution. Since we have such a broad operating base, I don’t need to worry about whether a certain machine is fully utilized. Instead, I can look for the best solution for the customer.
Which technologies do you combine?
In addition to classical sheet metal processing such as punching, laser welding and cutting, along with bending, one of our specialties is deep drawing. We construct the tools needed for this operation in our own shop. Important strategic customers have been won over by a combination of all these processes. We are thus able to beat our Chinese competitors’ prices — and that sometimes surprises us, too. But you see in our case that great manufacturing depth is an essential factor in acquiring orders. On average, you have purchased one new machine every year to date.
What is behind this high investment frequency?
Today we process everything from 0.1 millimeter spring steel to 25 millimeter mild steel. The volumes range from one-off prototypes to runs involving millions of parts. To be able to offer such a range, you need to have the right machinery. So whenever we see that a new investment is likely to win over new customers — or better serve existing ones, then we spend some money.
Whenever we see that a new investment is likely to win over new customers — or better serve existing ones, then we spend some money.
So far, our production hall contains several press brakes, a TruMatic 6000 punch laser machine, a well as laser cutting machines. The line of machines also reflects the fact that automation is becoming increasingly important. This is why we have high hopes that the TruBend Cell 7000, purchased towards the end of 2013, will have a beneficial effect on our bending operations. The TruLaser Cell 7000 helps us with our laser cutting and welding operations thanks to its extremely fast work rate, its great flexibility, and the resulting short production times.
What convinces you most about TRUMPF?
TRUMPF fascinated me from the word go. The frankness of the people and their readiness to help and be on call for their customers — day and night — impress me greatly. And then, of course, there is the high-quality technology that they deliver. I have seen how competitors struggle with other machines. Calculations based on trying to manufacture high-quality products with cheap machines never bear fruit. Your order books are well ﬁlled; you are working three shifts.
What are your intentions for the future?
After a period of rapid growth, consolidation will be next on the program. Structures will first have to catch up, to ensure that growth can be sustained. However, this certainly does not mean standing still. This year alone we have invested over three million euros in presses and a TruBend Cell 7000. Additionally, we are always on the lookout for new business opportunities and customers. An example of this is our commitment to electro-mobility. We are currently producing retainer brackets for high-voltage batteries — a market which is sure to expand.
Where do you see the greatest challenges to a successful future?
The difficulty is primarily in finding good personnel. At the moment, the labor market is unable to offer us the number of qualified people we need, especially in toolmaking. That is why we are currently training five young people. In addition, we have repeatedly retrained employees from other vocations. Whenever I see a mechanic or a fitter who I think has greater capabilities, he will be given more challenging tasks and thus become more deeply involved with the company.
Contact us: MastersofSheetMetal@trumpf.com
This article was first published in spring 2014.