Moving up a step at a time
It takes guts – and an openness to new technologies – to transform a one-man business into a thriving medium-sized company with 43 employees. Herberger Metallwaren, based in Baiersdorf near Erlangen, is proof that progress pays, and has been testing the new TruPunch 1000 exclusively for TRUMPF.
Thomas Herberger had a wager with his father Eugen. The founder of Herberger Metallwaren insisted that no robots and no lasers would ever be seen on the premises of his factory during his lifetime. Only four years later, his son proved him wrong and won the wager. This simple anecdote illustrates just how fast the Herbergers’ family business has changed in the past few years.
The family has been active in the metalworking industry for more than 50 years. Herberger Metallwaren has grown steadily from its origins as a one-man business to today’s medium-sized company. But, as in the old days, the workshop still smells of oil and metal, sparks fly from the welding benches, and the rhythmical pounding and humming of the machines almost sounds like music. Wherever you go, you can hear the characteristic thudding of security boots on the industrial floor covering. It’s a very busy place. Thomas Herberger can’t complain that they have too little work. On the contrary, they no longer work solely for customers in the surrounding local region but now receive orders from customers all over Bavaria and even from more distant regions.
Not afraid of change
It is relatively easy to pinpoint the date when Herberger Metallwaren went through a major reorientation: the year was 1998 and Thomas Herberger had just turned 18. While still an adolescent, the native Franconian spent a large part of his school vacations and free afternoons in his father’s factory, sorting sheets of gray metal and spray-painting them in numerous bright colors. After his elder brother had chosen to pursue a different career path, it was up to the younger son to decide whether or not join the family business.
For the paterfamilias, this decision was crucial to the future of the company. As Thomas Herberger explains, “At that time, my father was contemplating the purchase of CNC machines for sheet-metal processing, but only on condition that I took responsibility for programming them. That was when I decided to join the family business.” Because unlike the company’s founder, the meanwhile managing director didn’t start out as an apprentice tradesman. He has a degree in mechanical engineering, and admits that he has a particular affinity for computers and software. There are no less than five flickering monitors in his office, and when he’s seated at his desk all you can see of him is his head bent over the keyboard.
Components delivered directly to the box
Two of the monitors are dedicated to the TruPunch 1000 trial. Whenever he has a free moment, Thomas Herberger hurries over to check the latest results – apparently satisfactory. “The machine has more than fulfilled the expectations we had based on the technical data,” he reports. “This is mainly due to the large part removal flap. We specialize in the production of housings and enclosures, which means dealing with large components that until now had to be sorted by hand. The TruPunch 1000 delivers them directly to the box.”
The next step is digital connectivity.
The managing director has not yet pronounced his final decision on whether he intends to keep the machine after the end of the trial period. But the chances are good, given that its compact dimensions enable it to be installed in a tight corner of the production hall. “Generally speaking, we could make good use of the TruPunch 1000.” Another option Herberger has yet to decide on is whether to make use of the new machine concept’s key characteristic: that it can be upgraded to a punch laser machine. He is not averse to the idea, given that he already has a TruDisk laser for his TruLaser Cell, and the test machine could be integrated into the existing laser network as a TruMatic 1000 fiber.
Ongoing progress with a touch of improvisation
Thomas Herberger intends to continue the collaboration with TRUMPF to assure his company’s future. The next major step is digital connectivity. He has been working on this project for two years, day and night, including countless telephone conversations with the TRUMPF Service team. His strategy increasingly revolves around creating a central control unit for planning and monitoring the installed machinery. To obtain the best possible connectivity and transparency, he has opted for a TruTops Fab solution – once again remaining faithful to TRUMPF. He has thought through every aspect of this project and wants to find an all-round solution. By ensuring the highest possible quality of data at the start of production, he aims to improve the transparency and end-to-end control of the entire process chain and automate many process steps. Here we have it again – the openness to new ideas that Eugen Herberger appreciates so much in his son. While the company’s founder has still not gotten used to the robots, he is obviously proud of his son’s achievements and the flourishing company he has helped to develop.
Contact us: MastersofSheetMetal@trumpf.com
This article was first published in autum 2016.