A flexible model for Hörmann
Irish-based Hörmann Electronics is a contract manufacturing company that offers a wide range of services to a diverse customer-base.
Serving the automotive, industrial, medical, semiconductor, security, telecoms, transport and media industries, the business has developed invaluable expertise in dealing with high-mix, low to medium volume manufacturing.
With a service that ranges from printed circuit board assembly and testing, to complete system manufacture and supply chain management, the company places a strong emphasis on developing mutually beneficial partnerships with its customers.
“Typically the products that we manufacture are customised to meet the customer’s specification,” explains Henry Nash, sales and business development manager. “We develop partnerships with the clients, working with them through their design cycle in terms of design for manufacture and test, providing support through to serial production.”
Finding success in targeting customers with high value-adding opportunities, Hörmann’s service has been significantly developed over the last six years, putting it a step ahead of the competition. Describing the company’s progression, Henry says: “In the 1990s, we found ourselves in a situation where 80 per cent of our business was highvolume assembly for a couple of big OEMs. This was not a healthy business position, so we began creating a business development strategy to target customers with low to medium volume, high mix products from a diverse range of industries.”
Expanding on the development of this strategy, Henry continues: “What sets us apart from the competition is that we have employed this flexible model of manufacturing since 2000. While a lot of our competitors were still concentrating on the higher volume business, we recognised that this market would migrate to low-cost regions, so decided to build our strategy around customers who demanded more value-added services.”
With this shift in strategy, Hörmann began focusing on the quality of its offering, developing services that include product tracking and online quality systems. Henry comments: “As we have adopted this approach for a number of years, our flexible manufacturing system is much more developed than a lot of our competitors.
“It is a very generic system, ensuring that many of the products go through the same processes, which are optimised for flexibility. For example we have developed a flexible line that allows us to manufacture multiple products in parallel. Reducing manufacturing costs for customers with a low to medium product volume, this is unique within the industry, and acts as one of our differentiators from the competition.”
While striving to offer its customer base the best possible range of services, the company has also implemented lean principles to ensure that it provides a cost-efficient solution. Designed to support the natural process flow, the Cork plant is laid out to minimise product handling, while the production is carefully planned to reduce the time between processes.
Commenting on the importance of efficiency in the company’s operation, Henry says: “We use world class manufacturing tools and have daily production meetings to review various metrics and assess what is to be manufactured on that day. It means that any potential problems can be immediately identified, allowing us to take steps to remedy them and ensure that we can achieve a high level of efficiency.”
Operating in a competitive industry, this focus on efficiency is an important part of Hörmann’s strategy as it looks to compete in its chosen segment. Henry comments: “The challenge going forward is continuous improvement because while the market is very buoyant there is a lot of competition. By investing in quality systems and operational efficiency we are looking to enhance the overall flexibility of our customer service, ensuring that we stay ahead of the game.”
An example of the company’s continual drive to expand its service is its move into the medical sector. “Recently validating our systems to comply with FDA requirements has opened up the medical industry to us,” explains Henry.
“We are continuously working to expand the company, particularly targeting the higher-value industries such as aerospace and medical. Investing and developing our equipment and quality systems, we have spent around two million euros in the last year, and intend to invest a further 500,000 euros over the next few months as part of our service improvement.”
Describing what the future holds for Hörmann Electronics, Henry continues: “We have been very successful in attracting new customers from a very diverse range of industries, and I expect this will continue. If it does, our business will grow considerably, extending our overall standing in the contract manufacturing arena.”
Hörmann’s flexible approach to manufacturing, combined with its policy of continual development, has seen the company witness significant changes over the last six years, and Henry believes it was the change of strategy that led to its success: “Recognising that the market was changing, we changed from cellular-based manufacturing to a more flexible model. Today, we are in a marketplace that requires flexibility, so our foresight has been the secret of our success; we saw where the market was going, and took the appropriate action to accommodate it.”
Products: Contract manufacturer
Sites: Cork, Ireland