Tour of a company with a past and a future
KARL MAYER celebrated its 70th anniversary at the same time as the opening of its new Customer Support and Development Centre, 11.09.2007
In his speech, Fritz P. Mayer said that, ever since the company first came into existence, it had been adapting constantly to cater for the changing demands of the market. Dramatic regional shifts have been taking place over the last few years in particular. For example, China already accounts for 50% of KARL MAYER’s current turnover, whilst the rest of Asia accounts for a further 20%.
Fritz P. Mayer went on to say that the company had been pursuing a well-thought-out dual strategy in order to continue to keep abreast of this trend. On the one hand, upgrading the company to incorporate a highly efficient production, design and development centre has laid the foundation stone for the production of high-tech machines and, on the other hand, extending the production capacity in China has created the right conditions for manufacturing products for the highly competitive market. The company can therefore supply the right machine at a price that reflects its performance.
During a tour of the site, with stop-offs at three areas where the company has recently made considerable investments, illustrated the changes that had been introduced in Obertshausen in order to implement this new strategy.
The new Customer Support and Development Centre
The first stop on the tour of the company was KARL MAYER’s new Development Centre. The combination of a modern glass foyer with completely redesigned production halls is aimed at increasing the company’s capacity to innovate and thus to safeguard one of the main factors contributing to the success of the KARL MAYER Group. This high-tech company is constantly improving and revamping its products. This means that it has a pronounced influence on what is happening on the market, so that it occupies a leading position among producers of textile machines. This lead must be secured and consolidated at all costs in the long term, especially by concentrating all the workers and functions involved in the development process in one place.
Only through close interdisciplinary cooperation can KARL MAYER’s products be adapted to cater for constantly changing market conditions. This is the only way of developing new products and refining them to the point at which they are ready to be introduced onto the market.
The new Customer Support and Development Centre, with its modern equipment and well-thought-out layout, is the perfect place for doing this. ‘The specific design of the layout promotes networking between the various teams of experienced specialists and thus speeds up the entire development process. It also enables us to continue to make technological break-throughs,’ explained Fritz P. Mayer.
The building houses 200 workstations for employees and covers an area of 9,000 m2. 500 m2 is taken up with customer support, the offices account for 4,500 m2, and the rest is allocated to the test facilities and laboratories on the ground floor. Machine tests and demonstrations are carried out here, and laboratory trials are also carried out in the areas of textile technology, electrical engineering, warp knitting and machine dynamics.
The development work is carried out on the top floor and the results are tested on the ground floor. The top floor houses the departments specialising in ‘developing the basic principles, development, and electrical design engineering’, ‘machine documentation, standards and patents’, and the strategic units of ‘Lace and Net Curtains’ and ‘Warp Knits and Specials’, which each have departments specialising in ‘machine development’, ‘engineering’, ‘textile applications’ and ‘service’. The middle floor acts as the link and driving force behind all the work carried out on the top and bottom floors, where there is ample space for liaising with customers. A particularly imposing feature is the expansive glass frontage of the machine hall, which provides a futuristic view into the future.
The new machining centre in the production department
The second stopping-off point in the company tour, the production section, revealed just how much is being done to safeguard the future of the company’s clients. The large component manufacturing centre opened its doors to show the guests its state-of-the-art production technology.
High precision and unbeatable efficiency during production are objectives which are definitely not mutually exclusive. This can even be achieved in high-wage-cost countries such as Germany by incorporating the latest machines and equipment into efficient production sequences to manufacture products which are well received by the market. KARL MAYER has shown how this can be done.
‘We have analysed our key areas of production expertise, optimised our processes in this respect, and ensured that our manufacturing and production machines are state-of-the-art,’ said Fritz P. Mayer. We have already invested roughly 40 million euros in the site in Obertshausen since 2005, and we intend to make further investments in the future.’
The production section currently takes up an area of 56,000 m2 and has 720 workers and 160 machine tools. One of the most modern machines, which was the focal point of the company tour, was the DMC 200 U.
This 5-sided machining centre with eight controlled axes is used for producing sidewalls, mountings, consoles and supports having a maximum weight of 5 tonnes. It has a maximum machining length of 2 m and has more than 180 tools. The DMC 200 U was bought at a cost of 1.3 million euros, an investment that will quickly pay for itself. This high-tech production machine guarantees a constant high level of precision of 0.009 mm, since all the important functional dimensions are produced according to the principles of 5-sided processing, i.e. in a single clamping arrangement. The six-pallet changer also ensures that a workpiece can always be located in the processing device, which ensures minimum downtimes.
All these features enable the new machining centre to operate economically for an optimum price:performance ratio and short production cycles, which enables the company to react quickly to changing market requirements. More than ever before, the DMC 200 U also guarantees that the items manufactured by KARL MAYER have all the hallmarks of top-quality products.
As well as revamping its parent site, the KARL MAYER Group is constantly expanding its production locations all over the world, so that it can continue to offer its clients the latest machine technology for a reasonable cost. For example, a new production centre in China should be finished by the middle of 2008.
The new Logistics Centre
All KARL MAYER’s assembly and production centres have to be supplied with the relevant materials for manufacturing use-specific machines on time.
The KARL MAYER Group can currently supply more than 120 types of machine for a variety of applications. Clients can also expect an efficient spare parts service. These functions can only be carried out by using an intelligent logistics system to handle the large number of components.
Despite a high level of standardisation between products, more than 100,000 product codes are used throughout the company as a whole, and more than 70,000 of these are spare parts. Since the end of last year, KARL MAYER’s new Logistics Centre – the third stopping-off point in the company tour – has been ensuring that the large number of items is arranged in a clear and logical order, and that they can be distributed quickly. The total area amounts to 4,350 m2 and houses the sections of ‘Order Picking, Dispatch and Administration’ (3,350 m2) and the ‘Warehouse’ (1,000 m2). The efficient, well-organised packing department has a maximum capacity of 25,000 items and 1,750 items can be received and dispatched every day. 15,700 items and 2,100 spare parts are currently in stock. All the spare parts that are held in stock can be dispatched within 24 hours. ‘Our new Logistics Centre is an excellent example of a state-of-the-art materials handling system,’ explained Fritz P. Mayer, the managing director. ‘In conjunction with SAP-based implementation and control of all the processes within the company, we can guarantee an optimum materials flow with the shortest possible delivery times. After all, the aim is to optimise the delivery chain for spare parts and to meet the requirements of the customer who is using the machine as far as possible,’ the managing director went on to say.
The guests who had been invited to the reception to celebrate KARL MAYER’s anniversary and the opening of the Development Centre were extremely impressed with the modernisation programme that had been implemented. ‘Against the background of the constant ups and downs currently being experienced by the textile sector, the Mayer family and all the workers within the company should congratulate themselves on the continuing success of the company,’ said Nico Mach, the managing director of Pressless GmbH in Falkenau. ‘Building the Development Centre has laid the foundation stone for highly efficient research and development work, and has ensured that this will continue to be carried out in Germany. In view of the increasing technical demands and the constantly changing requirements of the market, as a German company, KARL MAYER took the right decision to concentrate all its expertise and know-how at the parent site.’ This opinion was also shared by Alexander Albani, the managing director of the ALBANI GROUP GmbH & Co. KG., when he said, ‘KARL MAYER did the right thing in concentrating all its technical know-how on the same site. This is the driving force behind the latest developments. The sector needs innovation.’
‘KARL MAYER represents inventiveness and a pioneering spirit – an image that the company rightly deserves in view of the reorganisation work that it has carried out and the way in which the group has adapted its international strategy,’ said Dr.-Ing. Thomas Stegmaier, the head of the Technical Textiles section at the ITV Denkendorf. ‘The new Development Centre is absolutely fantastic and quite unique. It is a clear endorsement for Germany as a production location. I would like to wish the company all the best in achieving its goals and every success for the future!’