Weiss drives the market
Weiss Spindeltechnologie, a company with over 30 years industry experience, is a leading specialist in high-precision motor spindle units for machine tools manufacturers across the globe.
The company, based in Germany, provides an extensive catalogue of standardised and customised spindles for incorporation into complete electromechanical systems. Weiss operates as a full subsidiary of Siemens AG, providing considerable global advantages to the business.
Claus-Peter Lehnert, managing director at Weiss, elaborates on the company’s operations: “We have a great deal of experience in spindle manufacturing, with particular knowledge in high-precision spindles and bearings. Today we manufacture spindles for the machine tool industry, including specialised spindle designs. We are currently located in Schweinfurt in Germany, and in co-operation with our sister company, Siemens, we have service departments in the US, Brazil, the UK and China.”
In 2001 Weiss was taken over by the Automation and Drives division of Siemens, resulting in its products being marketed and sold on a global scale: “We work very closely with Siemens, particularly through various active sales strategies,” Claus explains. “They have a specialist sales organisation that operates in the machine tools industry, and they represent and promote our products on a worldwide basis. Having this relationship with a company of Siemens’ scale is a clear advantage for us, as it gives us a greater coverage of the industry. In addition we operate as the technical specialist in spindle technology for them.
“We supply our products to customers in a number of industries,” Claus continues. “We are a leading supplier of spindles to OEMs that provide machine tools to the automotive industry, which is our key market. Additionally we manufacture belt and motor driven spindles for the job-shop sector, particularly for mid-range machine tools and high-speed turn cutting spindles for the mould and die industry.”
Claus explains that the company places considerable emphasis on customer focus, manufacturing customised solutions where possible: “The majority of our products are individual, tailor-made designs for a specific customer requirement. We have a standard range of spindles in our portfolio, which can be rapidly engineered or modified according to a customer’s demands.”
Weiss prides itself on guaranteeing maximum machine availability, and as such provides maintenance and repair services using highly experienced engineers. The company completes in excess of 2000 repairs annually, providing a range of services that includes repairs of own and third-party spindle units, maintenance programmes, onsite service, spindle service pools and spindle repair training.
Throughout the industry,Weiss is regarded as the leading manufacturer for all spindle requirements. The company is a technological leader, setting new industry trends and using technical innovations to achieve the maximum degree of precision and effectiveness in its spindle solutions. The company accepts any challenge offered by a customer, designing the optimum solution for the specified task.
“R&D is certainly one of the key focuses of our business,” say Claus. “We are continually developing our existing products, as nearly every order from a customer is a new spindle design. During the initial stages we discuss technical details and specifications, and the final needs of the product very closely with the client. In addition to specific product design, we continuously look at new technologies to overcome challenges and problems that the existing technology encounters. For example, we have recently developed new technology for re-greasing of spindles in the low to mid speed range.”
Throughout its production facilities Weiss employs lean strategies to ensure optimum efficiency: “Production efficiency is key to remaining competitive in this industry,” says Claus. “We work continuously to maintain the highest standards, but we have to employ different methodologies depending on the type of production we use. For example, when we have high-volume batch production of spindles we have to operate very differently to when we manufacture customised, high performance products in lower volumes.”
Claus explains that the Asian market is going to become increasingly important in the industry: “One of our largest customers is based in Taiwan, and over the last year we have worked hard with Siemens to develop the Chinese and Taiwanese market by employing spindle promoters and sales division. I think that Asia will be important to our future operations, although there are very different requirements regarding the spindle technology.
“For example, the key challenge is to manufacture spindles that are more robust, rather than high-tech,” he continues. “In Europe customers require high-speed, combined with the latest technology, whereas the Asian market relies upon robust, basic products with a long lifespan. Despite our presence in Asia, we will still be focusing our production in Germany, whilst continuously investing in service points near to the largest machine tools markets. We already have these in the US, Brazil, the UK and China, and we are initiating sites in Eastern Europe and Asia in the near future.”
Together with the opportunities in Asia, Claus is confident that the industry can continue to grow: “I believe that we are in a very good position at present, and I anticipate further growth for the future.
The general high quality, and robustness of our spindle technology will allow us to win many contracts in the Asian markets, and we are also looking at penetrating the US sector further.
“At present the machine tool industry is reaching its peak, but this will not last forever, as it is a very cyclical market. We have to be prepared for a downturn, but at the moment we are confident that even if the industry slows then we can continue to grow. We have ambitions to continue to grow by between 50 and 100 per cent in terms of production volume over the next five years. We will remain competitive by listening to our customers and developing solutions that meet all of their needs, whilst continuously improving our production and logistical performances,” Claus concludes.
Products: High precision motor spindle units