The Harmony of Interaction
Anyone visiting the H. P. Kaysser company is immediately drawn to a shining stainless steel sculpture at the entrance. It is called “The Harmony of Interaction” and symbolizes a company that excels in every respect —thanks to its versatility.
If the term “all-rounder” didn’t already exist, it would have to be invented to describe Thomas Kaysser. At his factory, located in Swabia’s Leutenbach about 20 kilometers from Stuttgart, 14 independent specialized teams, all under one roof, provide each of the services involved in the sheet metal process chain — in a virtually exemplary fashion. About 360 employees deal with between 120 and 200 jobs a day for a base of 600 customers — ranging from small craftsmen to industrial enterprises. Each year they process all kinds of metal and sheet thickness — from 0.1 to 150 millimeters in thickness and in batch sizes of one to hundreds of thousands. Their processes include laser cutting, punching, bending, laser welding, milling, turning, powder coating or wet painting. That way, the company manufactures everything from small but highly complex components, through to turnkey assemblies weighing several tons. “Versatility is one of our characteristics,” says Thomas Kaysser, “but the pre-requisite for our ability to offer so much is consistency in daily business transactions, coupled with unity among our employees.”
The heritage of the sheet metal emperor
The success story began 67 years ago. After the War and out of pure necessity, Hans-Paul Kaysser, a trained mechanic and metal cutter, built a cooking range for his mother using old drums and suddenly realized: You can make anything out of sheet metal. He founded in Stuttgart a firm named H. P. Kaysser and, with his 30 employees, rose to become the “Sheet Metal Emperor” of the state capital. “It was during this period that my father met Christian Trumpf. They founded the cooperation between the two companies which has lasted to the present day,” recalls his son, Thomas Kaysser.
Thomas Kaysser grew up with sheet metal, but initially it was not a passion. “I was about to leave for the USA to promote photovoltaics,” he reports. Having earned three different degrees, the world was in this engineer’s pocket, at just 25 years of age. But fate decided otherwise. “Due to my father’s early and sudden death in 1981 I was forced to jump in at the deep end,” says Kaysser. And he wouldn’t be as successful as he is if he had done it half-heartedly. Just four years later, the company had more than doubled its floor space and Kaysser employed a staff of 50.
A passion for everything new
“I love sheet metal because it reinvents itself to keep pace with the times. And the kick in new things is what has always driven me on,” explains Kaysser, now 59. In 1984, the enterprise was a pioneer in laser cutting. In 1994, it gained its first experience with laser welding and in 2002 entered the tube machining business with a TRUMPF TUBEMATIC. “Major expansions in our growth always occurred when we were the first to try something out. Sometimes we stumbled when doing so, but the bottom line is that our pioneering spirit has always paid off,” says Kaysser.
Today the H. P. Kaysser company is a system supplier offering multiple technologies and serving many industries, including pharmaceuticals, energy, automotive, packing and mechanical engineering. The portfolio stretches from developing concepts in the specialized CAD engineering sector to just-in-time and just-in-sequence deliveries with its own fleet from the company’s own logistics center.
The courage to do the unusual
In order to work profitably, despite the diversity of the services being offered, Thomas Kaysser also falls back on unusual methods. He uses tube processing as an example. “We mainly produce quantities destined for buffer storage or supply companies for which tube processing in-house would not be worthwhile. This causes fluctuating levels of capacity utilization with both of our TruLaser Tube 7000 machines. Sometimes we run three shifts, sometimes only half a shift, a fact which often makes my office staff break out in a cold sweat,” says Kaysser with a laugh.
“However,” he adds, “we need tube processing in order to offer modern designs. That is why I go for employee flexibility and have them trained to do many tasks. If there is a lot of work to be done in the tube processing section, somebody from the flat-bed laser cutting department will help out, while those working with the MAG welding robot can also operate a 2D laser cutting unit.” But even when it’s not possible to make straight substitutions, the company still writes the word cooperation with a capital C. “If, for instance, an organizational ‘lighthouse project’ has been brought to a conclusion in one department, members from many departments will arrange a meeting to learn from one another. Even if the technologies are different, the philosophy behind everything ought to be the same,” explains Kaysser.
Do it yourself
Kaysser’s philosophy also includes repeatedly implementing new ideas that benefit the system as a whole. And if this businessman needs something that does not yet exist, he will simply make it himself. This is why, in 2003, he founded his “learning factory” in which he is currently training 36 apprentices to meet the company’s personel needs. Training to do multiple tasks is just as much a part of the program as are subjects not normally taught to apprentices. “This includes laser welding, for example, a technology I have been enthusiastic about right from its beginnings — due to its beauty and precision. We had to acquire a lot of knowledge on our own, but today our welding operations with eight units in a gigantic network are stable.
We offer all kinds of bonds and to achieve this have all the machinery on the shop floor — everything from a pulsed unit to a 6 kW robot for deep welding,” explains Kaysser. To make sure our customers get what they really want, our engineering staff will advise them, right from the component design stage, as to the most suitable type of welding. Nor does Kaysser leave anything to chance when it comes to fixtures. His specialists do not work only to meet the company’s own needs, but also offer their expertise as service providers.
Since 2007 the company has also had a facility in Romania, called H. P. Kaysser International S.R.L. This was a decision aimed at both remaining competitive on the international market and securing the economic future of operations in Germany. To keep the company in motion, Thomas Kaysser always goes with the times. For four years his company has been offering his customers the opportunity to obtain quotations and place orders, around the clock, using his Internet platform called Laserteile4you. “I’m interested in what will be happening tomorrow and the day after, how society will change, and how we can be involved in these developments,” he says.
It’s Friday afternoon. Shift change. Employees are coming and going and the boss greets them all by name. They all get along well and the underlying atmosphere of contentment is almost tangible. And now, at the very latest, it becomes clear why the stainless sculpture at the entrance, designed by Thomas Kaysser himself, is more than just a beautiful work of art.
Contact us: MastersofSheetMetal@trumpf.com
This article first was published in Summer 2015.