Michael Weinig AG showroom in Tauberbischofsheim, Germany
By Lee Zhuomin
From the land that gave the world luxury automobiles, eau de cologne, Riesling and the delicious black forest cake, almost everything German is a stamp of quality and assurance.
The country has a reputation for no-nonsense efficiency and discipline, from which comes perfection, precision and world-class engineering.
In woodworking machinery, there is probably few that can match the standards of Michael Weinig.
Last week, a delegation of 32 from Asia visited Tauberbischofsheim, the company’s birthplace.
We were offered many reasons for the brand’s success, one of which is employee loyalty and low attrition rate. The average employment period is 25 years, that is, practically a lifetime. Some families have worked in the company for generations.
Each new employee must undergo three years of training during his tenure. (It is said that an engineer who spends a minimum of five years in Weinig can repair anything that breaks down at home.)
It is a huge investment in human resource, but worth it: what employees glean from training and work experience, they compensate in the form of perfection engineering. The shiny machines they build is the global reputation of Weinig woodworking machinery.
The company’s financial report is also evidence of its popularity. Weinig is expected to earn an estimated turnover of EUR380 Mn in 2016 with expectations for an even better year ahead. Gregor Baumbusch, chief sales officer, says the first quarter of 2017 is proving itself to be better compared to the same period in 2015, “which is unusual for LIGNA years.”
Mr Baumbusch expects a good show this year and a 15 per cent higher order income compared to LIGNA 2015.
From May 22 – 26, Weinig will showcase new technology that provides flexibility, control and transparency in all processes, creating new opportunities for furniture, flooring and engineered wood manufacturers all over the world.
Back at the showroom, Santo Mapandin, chief of operations at Permata Doors pointed to a picture of a 1950s generation moulder—still bearing the old cursive logo, still the heavy clunky metal body. “We still have this in our factory and it is still working,” the Indonesian said. “Like I told you, we go a long way back with the Weinig brand for more than 50 years.”
A service engineer then runs demos on a moulder. Changing spindles for another profile takes under four minutes, and he wasn’t even rushing. Because the computer manoeuvres every data, little human intervention is necessary.
Imagine the exponential savings in time and productivity!
Changing spindles is quick and a piece of cake. All done under four minutes because the computer does all the thinking.
The Asia delegation exploring different profiles
Few in Asia’s woodworking industry have the foresight or capital to invest in technology, believing that timber and labour are still within profit-making margins.
But this is now a thing of the past, and this last week spent in the south of Germany should probably change a few minds.
The Asia delegation visited highly-automated factories, all of them spotlessly clean, fast and systematic. Moulders, rip saws, optimising saws and scanners are all connected such that some lines only require as little as four workers to run.
It is what you get when you invest in technology—higher yield, less raw material wastage and faster processes, says Anthony Teo, managing director of Weinig Asia.
“You need to evolve with the times otherwise you will be left behind.
No two Weinig machines are the same because every one is made according to each production’s requirements. Here, a demonstration of different profiles possible on a moulder.
On high investment cost, Mr Teo says Weinig is able to offer financing plans to walk each customer through the sales.
He adds that having Weinig as a partner is not just machine sales. It comes with advice like setting broad business goals and clear targets for the next few years.
“When you know how to get your production right and where your finished products will go, you will see that the initial upfront cost is well worth it.”
Catch the full report in the July issue of Panels & Furniture Asia.