Automotive Industry is Booming in Germany
Before heading off to Esslingen, Germany (near Stuttgart) to help Index celebrate its 100th anniversary, my publisher told me that the area is “the Detroit of Germany.” I soon found that to be an apt description as a large number of shops I visited were heavily vested in automotive manufacturing. What’s even more noteworthy is that business was booming.
This is the new multispindle assembly hall addition to Index's Deizisau facility. The addition has helped the company reduce the redundancy of manufacturing in three different locations.
No doubt about it: If Esslingen, Germany, had a sister city here in the United States, it would have to be Detroit, Michigan. Much like in the U.S. city, the Schwaben region’s ties to the automotive industry became more and more apparent with each shop and manufacturer I visited in late spring while I was in Germany for a press tour hosted by turning machine producer Index/Traub.
The highlight of the trip was going to the company’s anniversary celebration and open house. While in Esslingen, Deizisau and Reichenbach, I got a first-hand look at how the turning machines are manufactured, the facilities (including a new addition) and the technology behind various turning projects. Click here for a slideshow of some of the highlights from the Index/Traub open house.
During the eight-day trip, I also got to visit three other manufacturers of note:
- Heller: The company’s WerkTag 2014 event, which gathered 800 guests from 20 different countries to its Nürtingen facility, had seven machines on display showing the depth of the company’s five-axis machining with high-torque spindle capabilities for the automotive, aerospace and mold and die industries. At the event, I also got a glimpse of Heller’s CylinderBoreCoating for coating cylinder bore surfaces of internal combustion engines using a twin-wire arc spraying process that melts iron/carbon wires and sprays them into the cylinder surfaces of an aluminum crankcase. (We’ll report more on this in a future issue of MMS.)
- Zoller: Our host to presetting and measuring machine company Zoller was Alexander Zoller, who, as the current president, is part of the third-generation of the family-owned company. He says the company is seeing growth in the U.S. market, especially in industries such as automotive and aerospace. While at the facility, we learned about the company's Bronze, Silver and Gold TMS Tool Management Solution, which is designed to help optimize tool and stock management as well as production-based manufacturing organization. During the facility tour, we also learned how certain people are certified to assemble different machines. In some instances, one employee will assemble an entire machine for more consistant quality and more dependable assembly time.
- Hainbuch: With more than 700 employees worldwide, this third-generation family business makes clamping solutions, of which, its quick-change solutions are particularly well-known. For example, if it normally takes 30 minutes to change a chuck, Hainbuch’s quick-change solution can do it in 30 seconds (with accuracy of 2 to 3 microns and 2 microns repeatability). One product of note is the company’s CFK series carbon fiber chucks. These chucks are approximately 1/3 as heavy as the steel version, which enables them to get up to speed faster for mass production applications, such as those for the automotive industry.