When Swiss precision meets Industry 4.0

/ Hofer Präzisionsdrehteile

At Hofer+Co. — a Swiss, family-owned company — precision turned parts are manufactured with the highest quality standards on fully automated CNC machine tools. The challenge: Full utilization is required to make the investment in the state-of-the-art machinery profitable. As such, Hofer has been collaborating with Techpilot for several years to win new customers.

The canton of Solothurn in northwest Switzerland knows all about precision: This region's product spectrum ranges from the often-quoted Swiss watches to precision machines and equipment and even industrial turned parts. And this is precisely where pioneer Gustav Hofer founded his eponymous family-owned company in 1928. Nowadays, the fourth generation of the company produces ready-to-install precision turned parts for the industry.

Ultra-modern infrastructure and fully automated processes

What began as a small workshop for watches and glasses in a home many decades ago is nowadays a modern technological company that manufactures precision turned parts. In an area of 1,000 m², Hofer manufactures turned parts ranging from 3 to 42 mm in diameter—from prototype manufacturing to series production.

The company is known for high-precision dimension, shape and position tolerances and—in addition to different steels, non-ferrous and light metals—it also processes titanium alloys and plastics. Among others, Hofer+Co. has customers in the fields of engine and apparatus manufacturing, in locking and safety technology as well as in furniture construction.

Industry 4.0: An established practice at Hofer+Co.

The family-owned company's unique selling point is the high level of automation in the manufacturing processes: The latest generation of 23 ultra-precise, fully automated CNC turning machines together with fully automated bar feeders ensure ultra-efficient manufacturing. At the same time, a DNC system enables fast retooling times, and digital production visualization makes it easy to monitor processes.

The results are apparent: the company manages to operate its machinery around the clock with only 23 employees in single-shift operation. To make the investment in the fully automated turning machines pay off and to prevent Switzerland's high cost structures from becoming a competitive disadvantage, the company relies on high machine utilization. Hofer+Co. collaborates with Techpilot to make this possible.

High machine utilization through efficient acquisition

For modern manufacturing companies like Hofer+Co., the key to competitiveness lies in high machine utilization and a consistent influx of domestic and international orders. Patrick Ruch, Commercial Manager and Co-owner of Hofer+Co., is aware of this challenge:

„The consistent increase in our productivity level with only minimum supervision of the fully automated production system and securing our high flexibility all but guarantee our competitiveness in the future as well. However, a consistent influx of domestic and international production orders is crucial.“

Patrick Ruch

Thanks to its collaboration with Techpilot, the company has managed to acquire new customers and orders and, at the same time, test its own competitiveness via benchmarking. Carefully creating an informative company profile with the latest reference parts has paid off: In the first week alone, Patrick Ruch was able to acquire a Swiss plastics technology company as a new customer.

Nowadays, Hofer+Co. receives three to four queries for precision turned parts per day and works hard at acquiring new customers in Switzerland and in other countries. With respect to the platform, Sales Manager Ruch mainly appreciates the ability to enter into direct dialog with buyers:

„Techpilot is an attractive door-opener for our ultra-modern production company, because in the past it took an extraordinary amount of work to find the right buyers. We deem such contracts extremely important because only when we can personally speak with the buyer do things get really interesting!“

Patrick Ruch

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