Issue September / October 2007
The whole package from Sulzer Werfo
Based in Haag, Switzerland, Sulzer Werfo designs plastic systems and injection moulds, offering individual and economical solutions to a number of key players in the medical and industrial sectors.
Through close collaborations with its customers, Werfo, operating as part of the global Sulzer Corporation, produces tailor-made solutions based on specific customer needs. It offers the development and design of products, modules or complete devices, logistics, packaging and shipment.
“We are part of a large international Swiss company with 10,000 employees and have 230 here at Werfo in Switzerland,” says sales director Dietmar Salzgeber. “ At the beginning of the year, we became part of the business unit SMS (Sulzer Mixpac Systems), which is a business unit within the Sulzer Division Chemtech. The core business of SMS is multi-component mixing systems for the dental and industrial field. For all non-mixing products the business segment ‘Special Products’ has been built, aiming at continuing and developing the former core business of Werfo. Werfo is a manufacturer of component parts and devices for SMS but we are also the main supplier of plastic components for Neutrik AG, the market leader in professional audio connectors worldwide. Furthermore, we are the supplier of components for direct fastening, hearing aid and some more technical equipment, especially at the time when high-end plastic, high precision small parts and tooling for high output is needed.”
Founded as a tool manufacturing company in 1970, Werfo has expanded its core competencies to become a technology centre for entire system development and processing. It advises on demanding new developments and innovative system solutions in plastics, and its practical, ergonomic, high quality solutions are based on a systematic solution approach. It develops and manufactures tools and plastic products primarily for the industrial and medical sectors, for which the company produces ranges used in dentistry, diagnostics and surgery. Its main competence lies in the high complexity of the components and manufacturing resources for one-and multicomponent injection moulding parts between 0.05 and 200 grams, and it manufactures tools and plastic products for electrical engineering, attachment technology, packaging industry, audiovideo technology and apparatus engineering.
By using high-grade materials and proven hardening and surface treatment processes, Werfo guarantees maximum stability of shape and dimensions. Werfo offers the lowest possible repair and maintenance cost due to reproducibility and exchangeability of all mould inserts and spare parts. State-of-the-art machinery and technology combined with highly trained personnel allows the company to manufacture injection moulding tools and plastic products of the highest quality. “A major advantage we have over others in the market is the fact that we possess a whole range of services from R&D and engineering to manufacturing,” says Dietmar. ”Having the whole package is the key to our success, as is having long-term relationships with customers, and most have been with us since we began over 30 years ago. It’s important that our customers know that we’re always on hand to immediately respond to economic and technical questions. I’d say our success is based on assurance, confidence and long term relationships.”
The company attaches particular value to independent examination of its production and manufacturing processes and, with its ISO certifications in place, Werfo aims to progress by meeting the EFQM model demands (European Foundation for Quality Management). Efficiency is also a key concern as Werfo strives to keep productivity high. “There are two steps we take towards maintaining manufacturing efficiency,” explains Dietmar. “The first is preventative tool maintenance, which is very important because the injection moulding tools are really valuable. The second aspect is optimising the whole process, including production processes, in so far as we now have a high level of automisation because it’s effective and wages are comparatively high in Switzerland.”
Werfo collaborates with another unit within Sulzer called Sulzer Mixpac, which is leading the technology of cartridge-based two-component mixing and application systems and also serves the medical and industrial markets. Mixpac supplies its high-performance products primarily to the manufacturers of two-component reactive materials, who in turn sell these products as part of a total system to its customers.
The company enjoys a strong position in its domestic market, providing an excellent platform to compete in the global market, though this expansion strategy brings fresh challenges. “With special products such as connectors or direct fastening units and some more, we’re looking for niches for technical or challenging products,” reveals Dietmar. “Our position in Switzerland is superb, especially with the combination of injection moulding shop, tooling shop and engineering. In terms of market share and being a leader in technology, we’re in the top ten in Switzerland due to our extensive know-how, people skills, optimised logistics and highly automised operation. We do face challenges though, primarily from the Far East because Chinese companies excel at copying the products of our customers, which obviously has an impact in our business. Besides this, the key difficulty facing us is to successfully compete in the global market as we now have international competitors.”
Dietmar believes expansion will prove integral to Werfo’s continued success as the company focuses on considered growth: “With regards to the future, there are different views of how to progress. One relates to the business area of specialised products which we aim to extend. The other involves growing the whole business unit SMS as well, and every one in our business unit will give the best to achieve success.”
Products: Plastic systems and injection moulds