Every year, United Grinding hosts the annual Motion Meeting with its sales partners and international press to showcase the latest innovations, sales trends, investment in production and the prospectus of the upcoming years. This year, with the theme ‘Grinders United!,’ the conference was organised to showcase its latest technology advancements at the United Grinding headquarters at Thun, Switzerland.
The press conference at the event highlighted the system maintenance and overhaul department. With the maintenance contracts specifically tailored to the machine, Studer has a service that is used by more than 1,500 customers a year. According to Jens Bleher, CEO, Studer, Schaudt and Mikrosa, “We make our customers more successful. The cylindrical grinding professionals are able to do this, thanks to their flexibility in production and the constant pursuit of innovation.”
“We succeeded in clearly exceeding the plan in 2017,” added Bleher. As per the company officials, the start of the year was a success, the Spring Machine Tool Exhibitions were successful and the positive trend continued until the end of the year. As early as June, Studer received more orders than planned. More orders were received from almost every sector. The decline following the diesel scandal could be absorbed, and in the automotive industry, a substantial normalisation of investment activity was noticed. The distribution of orders received by Studer across geographic regions shows that Western Europe continues to be the largest sales market. The business in Germany increased again significantly. North America was also able to maintain its position. Additionally, China made the biggest jump due to the rapid development of the market last year. Here, Studer received several major projects in the automotive industry. The development in the rest of Asia was restrained.
Schaudt Mikrosa rose sharply after a weaker 2016. In spring, the order intake picked up and by the end of the year, a significant increase was achieved. Especially in the automotive sector, an increase in demand was noted. “The regular customers from Germany reported back impressively,” said Bleher. This is also reflected in the regional distribution. Schaudt Mikrosa received 50% of the orders from Germany, and 25% from China. Further potential can be seen in the rest of Europe and the USA.
Ensuring training & maintenance
With record sales, customer care for the group underlined its strong position once again. The ongoing improvements of the organisation at Studer show success with all plan values exceeding in 2017. The increase in efficiency in service and further improvements in adherence to schedules for maintenance form the basis for further expansion of the business.
“We invest a great deal in training and further education of our employees,” said Sandro Bottazzo, CSO, Studer, and further added, “have developed a development and career roadmap for our service technicians, among other things. With our service academy, we have also created the environment to optimally train and certify our employees and representatives in well-equipped facilities.”
Bleher and Bottazzo also explained that Studer is committed to inspiring its customers. This only works with Studer-enthusiastic employees. Here, too, Studer wants to play a leading role as a modern employer and in the coming months will specifically set-up and implement projects relating to employer branding.
Clear emphasis in production
“Being good is the worst enemy of becoming better,” shared Stephan Stoll, COO, Studer. To avoid this, Stoll defined three priorities for 2018:
Solid foundation: The foundation is the offspring. 10% of Studer Schaudt and Mikrosa employees are apprentices. The dual education system in Switzerland and Germany is a guarantor for the positive development of the companies, and indeed of the economy.
Highest precision: Precise grinding machines require precise components. That is why the cylindrical grinders are expanding their core competence in mechanical processing. This is achieved with the commissioning of a large 5-axis milling centre; two more 5-axis centres with integrated turning function are planned for 2018. This is one of the biggest investments in this area. This system offers the ideal prerequisite for digitising the manufacturing according to the 4.0 standards.
Benchmark efficiency: Efficiency is being driven forward by a range of projects, for example, with the development of the new universal grinding machine from Studer. Studer, Schaudt and Mikrosa are also implementing a number of projects within the Industry 4.0 initiative of the United Grinding Group. This is similar to the digital assembly instructions, which will be started as an App on a tablet. This will be introduced by the cylindrical group on a wide basis in 2018. The assembly becomes paperless.
Technology as a resource
The resources that are tapped for the production include software, digitisation, sensors and coolants.
Agile software development: This involves having a smart development method that delivers a usable result every 30 days. The success is based on the close cooperation of the team and follows a well-defined procedure. It is a methodical approach that should not only be used in the field of software development, but will also be introduced in the electromechanical field this year.
Digitisation: The OPC-UA standard was successfully introduced. With the secure connection to the machine, process information is easily transferred to external systems. The customer can easily access a large selection of signals, integrate this into his application and is always the master of his confidential data.
Sensors: Intelligent sensors provide insights for the early failure detection of machine components. An important step is the direction of Predictable Maintenance. Specially developed sensors enable a process-reliable approach of the grinding wheel to the dresser and to the workpiece. Data analysis has posed a challenge for many years. Studer has accepted this challenge and with the development of the Studer Sensitron 4.0, it takes contact detection into a new dimension. The first stage of this technology is already in use on the S11 and on the new universal grinding machine.
Coolants: Together with IRPD AG, which is active in 3D printing technology, Studer is developing coolant nozzles with laminar flow characteristics. This allows the coolant to be precisely directed into the grinding gap, thus, achieving the optimum cooling effect at the desired point. This significantly improves the processing quality and process times.