„Stable systems are our backbone“
Oetiker: High-performance connecting solutions
Uniform high product quality is the Oetiker Group’s greatest priority. Which is why the world’s leading supplier of high-performance connecting solutions for automotive and industrial applications puts its trust in Bihler’s NC stamping and bending machines. These form the basis for the use of the company’s own inhouse tools and permit outstandingly efficient, flexible, requirements-oriented production at a continuously high level of process stability. In future, the Oetiker Group will continue to employ Bihler NC technology at its production sites worldwide.
Many great success stories start with a clever idea. This is also true of Hans Oetiker, who developed the world’s first ear clamp in the Swiss town of Horgen in 1942. This part created the basis for the founding of the Oetiker Group which is now the global market leader for connecting solutions in the form of clamps and rings. The family-run company now has 13 production sites and is present in 28 countries. Each year, it manufactures some 2 billion highquality clamps, rings, straps and quick connectors which are used in practically every vehicle model developed by the leading carmakers, as well as in the home and garden sector, medical engineering and the aftermarket. “We give our customers the certainty of knowing that their critical components are reliably connected thanks to our products,” explains Stefan Miessmer, CTO of the Oetiker Group. “That is why we are so keenly aware of the importance of supplying reliable, high-quality products.”
Machine pool as the backbone of the enterprise
The company’s machine pool makes an important contribution to achieving these quality goals. “Stable systems are the basis for quality. They are the backbone of our quality culture,” continues Miessmer. “However, it is equally important to have a reliable partner that provides expert, reliable, confidence-based support.” The Oetiker Group has found both of these prerequisites in Otto Bihler Maschinenfabrik. In concrete terms, their collaboration started in 2010 when one of the first servo-controlled Bihler systems was acquired for an entirely new project. The Oetiker Group now operates a number of different types of Bihler stamping and bending machines. Miessmer: “These machines are also consistent with our global production strategy that concentrates on achieving uniform quality for our customers worldwide.” This means: Whether they are manufactured in Europe, North America or Asia, all the parts must have exactly the same quality characteristics. “To achieve this, we need stable systems and stable processes which are consequently also an investment at a global level for us.”
Efficiency for requirements oriented manufacturing
However, Bihler’s NC machines do not only ensure the required uniform, high quality of the parts. “Thanks to the servo technology, we are considerably more flexible than in the past. As a result, we can also optimize new and existing process flows and reduce tooling times,” explains Patrick Russi, Strategic Sourcing Director. This allows us to save valuable warehousing capacity and further contributes to the economic efficiency of the new systems. “However, this enhanced efficiency now also permits more requirements-oriented production and allows us to react faster to customers’ wishes, meaning that we can manufacture even very short runs competitively.”
Harmonizing the entire process chain
The Oetiker Group manufactures its tried-and-trusted clamps and rings on the new servo systems. however, it also uses them to develop completely new manufacturing processes. At the same time, the systems are also used for new product lines that enter the Oetiker portfolio, for example following the acquisition of other companies. One issue of vital importance is tool compatibility, enabling the company’s existing inhouse stamping and bending tools to continue to be used with the new machines. “In principle, with the NC technology, we have simply changed the drive unit for our tools,” explains Miessmer. “However, we are still using the same Oetiker technology, which we continuously further develop for new processes. Bihler systems provide the basis on which we can implement these processes.” Ultimately, Bihler does not just supply systems but works together with the Oetiker Group to adapt the tools and validate their specific manufacturing performance. “The harmonization of the entire process chain starts with material feed and ends with packaging,” explains Patrick Russi. “This ensures that the interaction between the human, the machine and the process functions as well as it possibly can.” The length of this process depends to a very great extent on the project and generally lasts from a few weeks to a few months.
On the way toward the smart factory
With the introduction of Bihler NC technology at its global sites and with production operations in close proximity to its customers, the Oetiker Group is optimally equipped for the efficient manufacturing of clamps and rings, together with many other, new product lines – always in the required, reliably high, constant, uniform quality. Considerable potential has also been identified in terms of the digitalization of the production systems that is undertaken in the company on its journey toward the “smart factory”. Miessmer and Russi both agree: “We know that we can continue to grow together and are very positive about our continued collaboration with Bihler in this area as well.”
The Oetiker Group is the global market leader for connecting solutions in the form of clamps and rings. The family-run company now has 13 production sites and is present in 28 countries. Each year, it manufactures some 2 billion highquality clamps, rings, straps and quick connectors which are used in practically every vehicle model developed by the leading carmakers, as well as in the home and garden sector, medical engineering and the aftermarket.