Issue 119 August 2015
Offering an extensive portfolio, Scherdel focuses on safety, reliability, trust and continuous development
With a strong global presence of 29 manufacturing plants, throughout 11 countries, across three continents, Scherdel operates as a market leader in the field of metal forming; assembly and joining technology; mechanical engineering; and tool and surface technology in standard and bespoke modes.
The company was founded during 1889 by Sigmund Scherdel, with the establishment of a wire-drawing mill for the production of piano strings in Marktredwitz, Germany, moving later shortly thereafter into the processing of spring steel wire spokes, flexible shafts, tension, compression and torsion springs. Through over 125 years of successful operation, Scherdel has developed a rich history and a highly trusted reputation of stability and innovation. “Today Scherdel remains as a 100 per cent family owned business that is known globally for the manufacture of springs,” says Managing Director Marcus Bach. “My great-grandfather founded the company and was in contact with Rudolf Diesel early on in the development of his engine, so that the very first diesel engine was produced using valve springs provided by Scherdel.”
Indeed throughout its history Scherdel has been present for several defining moments around the world. During 1902 to 1914 for example, Scherdel springs were successfully used with the first street racing cars, while in 1928 the company rose to prove itself in the field of aviation with Scherdel valve springs in use in the first successful east-west Atlantic crossing with a Junkers machine. Additionally during the same year, the Maybach engines of the Graf Zeppelin airship were equipped with Scherdel springs. Over the following years the business continued to grow and expand its service offering. The company’s reputation for innovations and industry firsts was further strengthened when in 1936 Scherdel pioneered the use of shot peening of springs in Europe. The process allowed for the surface strain of springs to be hardened and the fatigue strength considerably increased. Commenting on the development of the business, Marcus says: “We have expanded our business to provide different kinds and shapes of springs and have added further applications, including the surface treatment of springs and tool machine and system construction. Scherdel is also able to work in close collaboration with OEMs and system manufacturers to assist from an early stage in the development of new products.”
Today Scherdel employs some 4500 members of staff across the globe, some 270 of which are invested in the undertaking of research and development activities. Its global network has given Scherdel a global footprint, which includes a strong presence within Europe, the US, Brazil, China and Japan. The company’s turnover has continued to increase year-on-year, with Scherdel achieving a turnover of around €600 million during 2014. The present product portfolio offered by Scherdel is comprised of technical springs and metal forming; assembly and joining technology; surface treatment; tool, machine and system construction; and standard springs. Its products have found applications in a broad base of industries including the automotive; electro mobility (E-mobility); health care; electronic; machine and system construction and tool construction sectors. Furthermore in addition to these main areas, Scherdel has also provided products to the energy and solar; household appliance; sports and leisure; furniture and fitting; and aerospace industries.
The automotive industry has proven to be an important contributor to the success of Scherdel since early in the company’s history, whether it is in specialist racing cars or everyday personal transport. Within the automotive sector Scherdel has proven expertise in vehicle drive systems; body, brakes and chassis applications; and vehicle interiors. Presently the automotive market appears strong and is an area in which Marcus has great confidence. “I think that the automotive market in Europe is getting stronger again and even with some weakness in Asia and China, the market is generally still growing,” he says. “I certainly think that the automotive business has a good future and over the next 12 months we will be looking to build a second plant in China as well as to increase our international footprint.”
Extending into E-mobility, the development of innovative ideas and their implementation represents a major challenge for the automotive industry and its suppliers. While the same can be said for the further development of conventional vehicles, the principle is amplified in the development of future-oriented system technologies including electric mobility. To meet the challenges of this emerging industry, Scherdel is developing parts and assemblies for hybrid and purely electric drives and the mass production of these parts. Innovations in the field include the use of metal-plastic composites, such as laser-welded products made from highly purified copper. Additionally Scherdel is carrying out core research in the field of welded joints for non-ferrous metals with renowned companies and research initiations. In recent years Scherdel has met the prerequisites for the development and manufacture of prototypes in small series and these are constantly being expanded for future products. “The strength of Scherdel is that we are a significantly research and development focused company and we provide our clients with tailored solutions to their problems. We can contact clients at the early stage of development of parts and components to find the best solution to their requirements,” Marcus reveals.
Further to developing solutions for the growing E-mobility market, Scherdel is keen to expand its presence within the sector of health care solutions. Within this area Scherdel works in accordance to the premise that ‘health and intellect are the two blessings of life’, as observed by the ancient Greek dramatist Menander. Indeed the modern medical industry generates new innovations everyday, which enables new examination methods; advances the treatment of patients; or eases the burden of doctors and nursing staff. In order to facilitate this development, Scherdel applies its specialist knowledge that plays a part in all applications where wire or strip material is needed. As it does across all of the sectors it serves, Scherdel supports its clients within the medical industry with innovative solutions, using secure and completely documented production processes. This leads to the creation of reliable products that ensure that Scherdel clients in this sector can concentrate on the patient’s well being. The first Scherdel products are already in use in various medical applications and during 2014 the company provided millions of springs to ensure the fuction of drug delivery systems or for safety syringes. “We are actively seeing to increase our presence within the medical market,” Marcus says. “Presently the company’s main business is in the automotive sector but we want to grow further into new markets. We already have some offers from clients in the medical market and we certainly see opportunity there for Scherdel to gain more business.”
To support its ambition to increase its market presence across a range of applications, Scherdel continues to invest in new and expanded production facilities to further strengthen its global manufacturing and support network. To this end one of company’s most recent investments was the opening of additional manufacturing capacity within Mexico. “We were already present in Mexico, but the plant there had become too small so we took the decision to built a new plant to incorporate more space for products,” Marcus elaborates. “The motivation for us was the opportunity of offering valve springs to our clients in the US, European and Asian markets. The plant was ready for operation and the manufacture of most products by the end of 2014, but it took some time for the release procedure of our customers. However the factory is now operational and has begun serial production.”
Situated in Silao de la Victoria – a city state of Guanajuato, the investment in the new facility was valued at some $10 million. The new facility covers an area of almost 30,000 square-metres and presently features around 9500 square-metres of administration, production and storage space. However, due to the expansive nature of the new location, Scherdel is capable of flexibly increasing its capacity to meet new and emerging customer demands. In addition to the new facility and associated equipment roughly 100 new members of staff were added to the company’s existing workforce, further enhancing the manufacturing capacity of Scherdel. The training of the new employees is undertaken predominantly at the company’s plants in Germany to guarantee the highest standards of quality. The German plants represent the first port-of-call for knowledge transfer for Scherdel, as the region is the home of its product development and production engineering efforts.
The training and development of in-house knowledge and engineering capacity is a core strategy for Scherdel in delivering the highest standards in quality, efficiency and safety. Its efforts to exceed the requirements of its customers is something that drives the business forward in entering new locations, expanding its knowledge base and encouraging further innovation. “Our first company aim is the customer’s satisfaction and this can only be achieved by having good and motivated staff,” Marcus observes. “It is very important for us to have the right people in the right places and we train our own staff and offer courses, which are specialised in springs as well as other disciplines like language courses and cultural issues when dealing with international trade.”
Scherdel has survived through some of the most volatile moments in history and the varying fortunes of the global market. On 26th March 2015, the company announced the anniversary of its 125th year in operation. To mark the occasion Scherdel is holding a special exhibition, which is taking place at the ‘Fichtelgebirgsmuseum’ from 21st March to 6th September 2015. Utilising words and pictures, the exhibition uncovers the success of Scherdel as a family-run business with a fascinating history incorporating BMW sports boats, Graf Zeppelin airships and Formula One racing cars.
From its very beginning the company has relied on technically sophisticated products that promise future growth. Indeed the maxim of the company is ‘progress based on tradition – growth from innovation’ and it is a philosophy that has served the company well and will continue to do so during the latter half of 2015 and beyond.
Products: Bespoke springs and stampings and associated components
Sites: Europe, the US, South America and Asia