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Hoffmann Group Connected Tools Accelerating Digitalisation In Tooling

Hoffmann Group Connected Tools Accelerating Digitalisation In Tooling

The new “Hoffmann Group Connected Tools (HCT)” product family Hoffmann Group is driving digitalisation forwards in the field of tooling. The range includes Bluetooth-capable tools which at the push of a button send measured values directly to a PC application such as Excel, a tablet or the newly developed HCT smartphone app. The GARANT IP67 HCT digital caliper with Bluetooth connection has now been launched on the market as the first HCT product. This tool is also available as a depth gauge. The free HCT app is now available for download from the App Store and Google Play.

GARANT Digitaler Messschieber IP67 HCT

The new Hoffmann Group Connected Tools link the analogue and digital tooling worlds without any additional software or dongle. The tools send measurement data via Bluetooth over a range of up to 15 metres and thus make documentation particularly convenient. At the same time they improve quality management because they eliminate errors arising from manual data transmission.

The Hoffmann Group has also developed the HCT smartphone app for users who place a special value on mobile working. The app provides an overview of up to eight HCT tools. It reliably saves newly recorded measurement results and permits the export of the measured data including tool name, measurement date, unit and target value in CSV format for further processing in any PC application such as Excel or Word. The app can also display values both in the metric system and in inches.

The new GARANT IP67 HCT digital caliper not only has sophisticated functions but also features an outstanding design. That was confirmed by the jury of the prestigious Red Dot Award in 2019: The GARANT IP67 digital caliper provides a large LCD display on which the measured values are displayed at an easily legible height of 11.5 millimetres. The measurement system is embedded in a clearly structured stainless steel body sheathed in an ergonomically shaped enclosure with Santoprene coating. This provides the necessary grip for working in dusty, wet or oily environments. After 10 minutes the system automatically switches into power-saving mode. Any slight movement reactivates it and the last measured value and the zero point are displayed. This saves energy. The tool satisfies protection class IP67 and is protected against dust, water, coolant and oil.

 

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Staying Localised & Responsive In The Internet Of Things

C-Level Talk: Taking Success Forward

Directing Investments In The Right Way

The Recipe For Centennial Success

Flexible Production Capacity

 

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The Recipe For Centennial Success

The Recipe For Centennial Success

Ahmad Alshidiq speaks with Martin Reichenecker (Chief Sales and Marketing Officer and Spokesman of the Board) and Borries Schϋler (Chief Product Management and Engineering Officer) from The Hoffmann Group on the company’s recipe for its centennial success.

Martin Reichenecker (Chief Sales and Marketing Officer and Spokesman of the Board)

Borries Schϋler (Chief Product Management and Engineering Officer)

The Hoffmann Group is a leading system partner for quality tools, combining trading with manufacturing and service expertise. It supports over 135,000 customers with supply capability, assured quality and enhanced productivity in meeting all their needs for machining tooling, clamping, measuring, grinding, as well as workstations and storage and personal protective equipment.

This year, the headquarters based in Munich is celebrating its centenary with excellent prospects. In 2018, the Hoffmann SE with its subsidiaries achieved record sales of more than EUR1 billion, the number of employees grew to more than 3,000 and the company is continuing to grow organically. Hoffmann SE develops and steers the corporate strategy and orientation of the entire Hoffmann Group together with its long-standing partner companies. In 2018 the Hoffmann Group comprising Hoffmann SE and its partners generated a turnover of more than EUR1.4 billion and employed approximately 3,700 people.

100 years in the industry is a significant milestone. What has Hoffman done right to be an industry leader for such a long time?

Martin Reichenecker [MR]: For 100 years, we’ve been flexible with our offerings and products. Today, we are the number one in Europe in quality tools, cutting tools, hand tools, metrology, etc. I think what has brought the company success is we are always focussing on the clients´needs, trying things and learning fast. We’ve been pioneer in some fields of tools distribution. We had our first printed catalogue in back in 1936 and in 1998 we established the first web shop in the industry. There has always been a good combination of traditional, well used and modern aspects (in our offerings) which helped the company to reach a revenue of more than EUR1 billion in 2018. We are also serving many different industries, not just any particular one.

Borries Schϋler [BS]: We also employ the right people that grasp Hoffmann’s philosophy in serving our customers.

Any changes Hoffmann has made in this era of Industry 4.0 from what they offer previously?

MR: In 2009, we already had our first wave of digitalisation called 360-degree tooling and provided our customers with electronic tool files across a complete cutting tool assortment. And we also started building data-based solutions for our customers.

What’s your most breakthrough technology and why is it important to the industry?

MR: Two years ago, we launched the high performance drills GARANT Master Steel SPEED and FEED and opened up a new performance class allowing the customer productivity rates. It was not so normal that time. Another technology from Hoffmann is the TPC and the Parabolic Performance Cutting – a further development of ball-nosed slot drilling cutting and also known as barrel milling. These solutions offer customer high productivity.

BS: In August this year, we will be launching our new constant grid dimension. Today, different manufacturers have different grid dimensions for cabinets, work benches, trolleys and so on. And from Hoffmann, you will get all the items in the same grid dimension. This will offer you space for customisation and long-term investment protection, and this is a technical step ahead as it is a complete system. With the GARANT GridLine series, the Hoffmann Group is now the first supplier to offer a completely integrated modular concept in its product range, which includes even the smallest details such as partitioning materials and rigid foam inserts for drawers.

Hoffmann’s own brand GARANT is one of the biggest tool brands in Europe, it is the only brand with which you can completely equip the whole workshop. Customers have given trust to this brand and they know we are delivering everything – whether it is cutting tools, metrology, hand tools, grinding discs or workshop equipment.  With GARANT, you have one brand with the whole portfolio for your mechanical production.

Where do you see the biggest opportunity for Hoffman in the forthcoming years?

MR: Hoffmann became very international in the last 15-20 years, having expanded from countries in all over Europe to North America, and to Asia. We are a young and small player in some markets but the opportunity is huge for us. Product-wise, we still have a lot of ideas on what can be brought into the market. And last but not least, on process optimisation for customers. From application to ordering process, we want to optimise the whole process end-to-end.

What’s your strategy in Southeast Asia?

MR: We learned a lot about the market in the past year, and we discussed and adjusted our approach in the region – much focus is on Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam and Indonesia.

What is most important in addressing present-day challenges in digital manufacturing?

BS: I would take it a bit wider with digitisation, completely. I think digitalising internal processes can be handled; it’s just a matter of time and how many resources you have. In developing digital business models, you have to have the right people and certain creativity in your staff. For me, the challenge will be when you have a higher transparency of data and team members have to take bigger decisions in a shorter period of time. You have to have the right people who can perform this when time calls for it.

Milestones For The Hoffmann Group

1919 – Josef Hoffmann registered a company in Munich.

1932 – Franz Hoffmann joined his father’s company. He shaped the company for more than 60 years.

1936 – The first catalogue revolutionised the industry.

1973 – The introduction of the GARANT brand turned Hoffmann, the reseller, also into a manufacturer.

1993 – Foundation of the Hoffmann Gruppe, which has been called the Hoffmann Group since 2003.

1995 – First steps over the border: Hoffmann went international.

2000 – Started its online business.

2009 – Opening of Europe´s and the industry´s largest and most efficient logistics centre.

2018 – Further expansion: construction started on the LogisticCity in Nuremberg.

2019 – Hoffmann is preparing for the next 100 years: with digital products and services.

 

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Directing Investments In The Right Way

Directing Investments In The Right Way

Procurement of new machines is not the only way of increasing production capacity. The right tools and suitable software can also generate up to 85 percent gains in productivity. What if the order book is full and the company has reached the limit of its capacity? When a company finds itself in this situation, the question that arises is: Whether to procure new machines or to explore how to make better use of the existing stock of machine tools. There are ways of doing this. For instance “Parabolic Performance Cutting” (PPC) is a production technique that can accelerate the finish machining process by a factor of nine. By Hoffmann Group.

Expand the existing capacity or start to turn down orders? Many companies find themselves in this dilemma: Every time a company turns down an order there is the risk the customer may not consider this company for future orders. So essentially there is no alternative but to continue to accept every new order. However at some point the existing stock of machine tools will reach its limits. What then? Is it justifiable to procure an additional machine when it is uncertain how long the surge in orders will be sustained? Moreover there is a time lag of several months between ordering and receiving a new machine. So how can the new machine address the current production bottleneck? Many Production Managers suffer sleepless nights wrestling with such questions. Indeed, new machines represent substantial investment, often a seven-figure sum – they need space, personnel to operate them, and are not immediately ready for productive use. Alternatives by which a relatively small investment and no loss of time can achieve significantly more from existing productive resources are therefore very attractive. PPC milling is one such technique. The success story is already well established. For instance, Koller Formenbau GmbH of Dietfurt in the Altmühltal, Germany, has used PPC milling cutters supplied by the Hoffmann Group to reduce the finish machining time for geometrically ruled surfaces from 100 hours to 15 hours.

Massive Reductions In Finish Machining Times

PPC is also called barrel milling. Similarly to that of a ball-nosed slot drill, the main cutting edge of a PPC milling cutter is curved as an arc of a larger radius circle. Whilst for a classic ball-nosed slot drill the effective radius of the tool is only half the diameter, a PPC milling cutter has a much greater effective radius, up to 1000 millimetres, thus permitting a significantly greater engagement length on the workpiece. A barrel milling cutter achieves a line skip up to nine times greater than that available using a ball-nosed slot drill of the same tool diameter, thus placing less stress on both the tool and the machine. If on the other hand the same line skip is maintained a surface quality up to 80 times better can be achieved. The Hoffmann Group is currently offering a portfolio of tools with effective radii up to 1000 millimetres. Even larger radii are conceivable and could be implemented as tools, but the very long engagement length would demand very high contact pressures. The resulting displacement of the tool would have a negative effect on precision, which of course in a finishing process cannot be compromised. The Hoffmann Group also offers special solutions with effective radii different from those in the catalogue, to allow the customer to gain the optimum benefits from PPC for specific applications. In order to fully exploit the advantages of PPC, a radius in the range of 700 or 800 millimetres has generally been found to offer the best solution. Very often the best solution depends not only on the component but also on the machine tool in use.

Different Profiles And Approach Angles

PPC is particularly effective when the tool profile is exactly suited to the workpiece surface contour. Therefore, depending on the application, up to four different tool profiles are necessary for optimum machining of workpieces and free-form surfaces with highly complex surface geometries. This is because surfaces with interference contours, large areas, deep cavities or flat faces each demand different tool profiles. The Hoffmann Group therefore currently offers the following principal cutting edge profiles: “straight”, “tangential”, “conical“ and “stub point conical”; each representing a specialised solution for machining particular types of surface. For all profiles except for the straight profile the tool is also mounted at an oblique angle – and the selected approach angle also makes a difference. Therefore the Hoffmann Group offers conical and stub point conical PPC milling cutters with three different approach angles. These allow the programmer to use the optimum type of milling cutter for the specific application. Depending on the component, for instance steeper approach angles allow interference contours to be avoided.  Or the use of a machine tool that has a large headstock may require the choice of a tool with a larger approach angle.

CAD/CAM With Tooling Database

In contrast to ball-nosed slot drill cutting, PPC is more dependent on software. For classic ball-nosed slot drill cutting the CAM software requires only a small amount of information to calculate an appropriate milling strategy: It is sufficient to declare the tool diameter, tool length and the information that the relevant tool is a ball-nosed slot drill. These data can also be processed manually. The more complex tool profiles of PPC on the other hand can be calculated only in combination with CAM software that offers “barrel milling” as a strategic option. In addition the software must have available a tooling database which holds the exact geometries of the PPC milling cutters.

Furthermore, because for PPC the tools are aligned obliquely to the workpiece, this process can be employed only in conjunction with a 5-axis milling machine. As 5-axis machines come increasingly into use, PPC milling is now really taking off. In any case it is not always necessary to control all 5 axes simultaneously. Often, once the tool has been set up, the draft angles can be machined with 1 or 2 axes clamped, in order to achieve even better results. At one time there were only a few software programs that offered “barrel milling” functionality. That too has changed in recent years. Koller Formenbau for instance already had a 5-axis machine in use and operated Hypermill software, and only then did it seek suitable barrel milling cutters. At a moderate expense the company has been able to achieve up to 85 percent gains in productivity thereby significantly increasing the productive capacity without having to procure new machine tools.

Increasing Areas Of Application

A classic area of application for PPC is finish machining of complex components and free-form surfaces in machine tool manufacture and in tool and die production. In medical technology, turbine technology and aerospace, PPC is attracting increasing interest. A relatively new area of application for instance is the finish machining of workpieces produced by additive manufacturing. 3D printing permits particularly complex workpieces to be produced in a single production operation. However, workpieces produced on a 3D printer fall well short of the surface quality required for contact faces. Such workpieces must be finish machined. PPC was conceived for exactly such applications. And not least because a variety of different materials are often used for the 3D printing process, the Hoffmann Group has extended its PPC milling cutter family to cater for machining a wide range of materials. PPC milling cutters for machining aluminium were demonstrated for the first time at AMB 2018. The new milling cutters are particularly sharp-edged and can also be used for machining plastics. This significantly extends the existing portfolio over a wide range of applications.

PPC As A Productivity Solution

Companies which direct their investment into alternative paths can achieve substantial increases in productive capacity at a relatively small outlay, without adding to their existing stock of machine tools. CAM-controlled production using PPC is such an alternative. PPC permits genuine step function gains in productivity with a relatively modest investment in software and tools.

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Hoffmann Garant Tool24 PickOne

Hoffmann Garant Tool24 PickOne

Hoffmann Garant Tool24 PickOne enables stock monitoring of classic C-items, such as indexable inserts, grinding wheels and protective gloves. A LED display shows the employees in which compartment their items are stored and the withdrawal compartment opens automatically. This allows quick goods withdrawal—even in lower lit areas.

It is available in different standard models from the warehouse and has a loading capacity of up to one tonne. There is also the option of selecting from four different withdrawal compartment sizes and a modular principle can be used to individually design the dispensing cabinet.

The drum of the Hoffmann Garant Tool24 PickOne is available with up to 4 different compartment sizes as standard configuration and with a load capacity of more than 1000 kg, specially designed for industrial use. Flexible attachment of a touch screen thanks to double-sided perforated panel.

The master system can be extended with additional slave systems and combined with all the Tool24 hardware variants.

The drum of the Hoffmann Garant Tool24 PickOne is individually and uniquely configurable for each customer with 4 different storage sizes depending on the portfolio of items to be issued. Talk to your technical adviser.

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Hoffmann: Garant MasterSteel PickPocket

Hoffmann: Garant MasterSteel PickPocket

Hoffmann’s Garant MasterSteel PickPocket is suitable for milling slots and pockets, as well as for side milling, ramping and helical milling. It has three cutting edges and a drill tip recessed towards the milling shaft.

The three cutting edges enable very large flutes in comparison with a four-cutter design, allowing for more swarf removal.

The positive rake of the solid carbide mill makes it very free-cutting and suited for machining fragile and thin-walled components. The tool is available for a diameter of 5.7 to 20 mm in the standard length and also with a longer neck.

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Staying Localised & Responsive In The Internet Of Things

Staying Localised & Responsive In The Internet Of Things

Dr Robert Blackburn, chairman of the board of executive directors and chief executive officer at Hoffmann Group and Pinaki Banarjee, managing director, Hoffmann Asia Pacific and India, share their insights with APMEN on how to stay ahead in today’s increasingly digitised world. 

The potential for value creation can be found when technological innovations give rise to new business models that provide efficient solutions with timely delivery. More companies like metalworking tool provider Hoffmann Group are subsequently putting resources to increase responsiveness in digital channels.

Q: Dr Blackburn, with experience in leading companies in the move towards digitalisation, how do you plan to improve Hoffmann Group in this aspect?

Dr Robert Blackburn (RB): In terms of digitalisation, we are continuously improving. Four principles are crucial for our digital channels:

First and foremost: Fewer clicks are better. The easier it is for our customers to use our digital channels, the better. Secondly, we thrive for full integration of our website and our electronic catalogue so that customers will find everything they are looking for as quickly as possible.

The third thing is: We will integrate some of the expertise that our sales team in the field offers to our customers in human form into our digital channels. Our consultants will be able to use the new medium to show their ‘face’ to the customer on the website.

The fourth thing, which is fundamental for Hoffmann: We appreciate our customers and also our suppliers. Our suppliers need to be able to have access to their parts in the catalogue and they need to be able to check their own data to make sure that it works. We will add that functionality for them.

Obviously, underpinning all of this is a proper cybersecurity concept. Data protection is especially important and a big deal for us, as a German company.

Q: How would you encourage companies in South East Asia to move towards Industry 4.0?

RB: My advice to companies is to start very small and pragmatically in this direction, and to start in the very core of their business. If they only try to apply the technology available to the edges of their business, they will not develop in the technology the way the industry needs it.

Pinaki Banerjee (PB): This applies specifically for smaller businesses which exist in Asia. What customers are looking for now is a reliable supplier who can consolidate all the tools and offer it in a transparent manner, and that is what we offer with our own brands Garant and Holex.

Q: In terms of logistics, how is Hoffmann looking to improve this aspect?

RB: The logistics operation is to us foremost a clear and unique selling proposition. We are about to invest a substantial sum in an advanced logistics site in Nuremberg in Southern Germany. It is a Lighthouse project, called LogisticCity. This will enable us to deliver anywhere in Europe within 24 hours.

Furthermore, combined with our warehouse and storage facilities in Malaysia and Singapore it will enable us to deliver within 48 hours to anywhere in Asia. LogisticCity is designed to support our growth ambitions until 2030.

Q: Which areas will the company set its business priorities? What are some potential challenges?

RB:We have a very clear strategy of what we do and what we do not want to do. We don’t want to dominate the whole Asian market. Instead, we concentrate on local markets and focus on customers who value our business proposition. For example, the small metalworking shops.

And, as a guiding principle: Wherever we do business, we do it in our customer’s language. Our corporate culture starts and ends with our customers. That means we offer our print catalogue and our digital catalogue in 11 local Asian languages.

Our core business model built around the system of tools is made both for the traditional world and the new Internet of Things. For example, a worker can leave the machine and walk over to our Tool 24 Smartline cabinet. It knows what kind of tool the worker is looking for and opens the drawer for him, presents the tool to him, and then the software registers what he takes. It then informs the procurement department on what needs replacement, so we can automatically replenish.

PB: What is becoming more and more important in the Asian markets is our consultative services. Usually, a distributor would present its product catalogue and take orders from the customers. We offer a comprehensive consultative sales model that is valued by our customers.

Q: What are some industry-wide metalworking trends in Singapore and Southeast Asia? How is your company going to take advantage of this?

PB:We have to isolate the markets here, as Singapore is very different from Thailand and Vietnam. Focussing on Asia Pacific, we see the oil and gas industry recovering. This had a huge impact in Malaysia, especially in Johor, as the companies are receiving more contracts.

On the manufacturing side, labour costs have escalated in China, which has not yet happened in Vietnam. In Vietnam, there is a pool of young talents who are educated and qualified. That is why you see many factories moving to Vietnam. The semiconductor industry is really growing, and we have seen some very positive developments on the aviation sector. This industry is looking for premium tools and values quality in each and every respect.

RB: If you look at it from a global perspective, I am convinced that Singapore and Southeast Asia will return to the centre of the economic world. At Hoffmann, we don’t plan in years, we plan in decades. We will do business here for at least the next 25 years. So, it is a strategic market for us.

With a substantial sum about to be invested in an advanced logistics site in Nuremberg in Southern Germany, Dr Robert Blackburn (right) and Pinaki Bannarjee (centre) believe that logistics operation is a clear and unique selling proposition

With a substantial sum about to be invested in an advanced logistics site in Nuremberg in Southern Germany, Dr Robert Blackburn (right) and Pinaki Bannarjee (centre) believe that logistics operation is a clear and unique selling proposition.

An intelligent tool cabinet for automated tool dispensing allows for the professional and transparent monitoring of tools

An intelligent tool cabinet for automated tool dispensing  allows for the professional and transparent monitoring of tools.

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