While new tools (with even better performance) are contributing significantly to optimise machining processes, digital networking is helping companies to use and manage the available tools in the best possible way. In the future, the progress in tooling is likely to be driven by digital networking and classical machining technology, says Ulrich Magnus O¨fele, Director, Hoffmann Group, India. In this interview with Rakesh Rao, he discusses impact of digitalisation and Industry 4.0 on the metalworking industry and how companies should be future ready.
Since inception of its India operation in 2016, how has been the performance of Hoffmann in India?
We have received a lot of positive response so far, and our growth in India is very encouraging. We understand that being successful in India is a process – things are different in the Indian market, and all the multinationals have lessons to learn. I can confidently say that we have found the right team. And we have the right combination of product quality, consulting and services for the local market.
What is the present status of Indian metalworking industry?
India is one of the fastest developing economies in the world and as a part of Hoffmann’s growth strategy Asia Pacific and particularly India is on top of our list. In India, “Made in Germany" has a high reputation within the metalworking industry, but on the other hand, the companies are extremely price-sensitive. Our challenge is to show them with our consultative services that if used in the right way and environment high-quality tools can be less expensive than cheap tools.
What are Hoffmann’s offerings to machine tools metal cutting industry?
Our offering in India includes the reliable supply with quality tools for machining, clamping, measuring, grinding and cutting as well as hand tools and workstations and storage. Currently we have around 80,000 products in our catalogue. This includes products from our premium brand GARANT, from our industry-quality brand Holex and about 500 manufacturer brands. For the sales of products in need of explanation we have built an in-house task force of technical experts - cutting tools experts, metrology experts, workstation experts. Thus, we offer a unique combination of products, consulting and service competence. This is what we call “system partnership”. In Europe, we are the leading system partner for quality tools. As a family-owned company with a long history of almost 100 years we focus on long-term success and relationship with our customers.
How Hoffmann is changing the way machine tools metal cutting industry operates?
We are Germany´s third largest manufacturer of cutting tools. Therefore, we have deep insights into the manufacturing process and can better help our customers solve their tool-related problems, thus enhancing their productivity. However, we are not only heavily investing into research and development of new tools but also into digital services which are supporting the use of these tools. With our offering we continuously enable our customers to raise their productivity and prepare themselves for the digital age.
How big is auto & auto components industry for metalworking industry, in general, and for Hoffmann,
Of all industrial sectors, the manufacturers of cars, vans, trucks and motorcycles are most successful in India. The automotive industry is the most important buyer of machine tools. German suppliers and tool vendors can profit from this trend, and therefore we have chosen Pune as headquarter.The automotive and auto components industry is of very high importance for the metal working industry. As Hoffmann Group we already have the big and small players of this industry on our customer lists: We not only serve the big OEM brands, but also large automotive suppliers as well as many highly-innovative middle-sized and smaller companies working for these brands.
With electric vehicles gaining traction, OEMs are increasingly looking at using aluminium. Will this have an impact on metalworking industry (and in turn cutting tools sector)?
The efficient processing of light-weight materials like aluminium and titan requires special tools that are tailored to the specific properties of these materials. Therefore, some time ago we have started with the diversification of our high-end metal cutting tools portfolio. At an upcoming exhibition IMTEX in January next year, we will present a complete new product family of GARANT PPC milling cutters optimised for aluminium. In addition, we will showcase the Garant Master Titan which is a new member of our GARANT Master family and specialized in cutting titan. Our product families are designed to offer to our customers the right tool for any application.
Will the move to encourage domestic production in defence & aerospace industries lead to opening of new opportunities for companies like Hoffmann?
On a global scale we are already a longstanding partner for companies from different industries and we also have an in-depth understanding of the specific and strict obligations. Companies from the defence and aerospace sector must fulfill. With this expertise we see good chances to profit from the Indian government´s initiatives as well.
Digitalisation and Industry 4.0 are impacting not just the manufacturing processes, but also the business models. How is Hoffmann adopting to these tectonic shifts?
We are heavily investing into digital projects. We are for example working on the integration of built-in connectivity into our products. In the future, cutting tools must become more intelligent and deliver data like for example information on the need for regrinding or the risk of tool breakage. This information can then be analyzed within an integrated tool management system and contribute to a continuous self-optimization of the whole production system. We are continuously exploring new areas with the aim to make our work better and better.
What are the emerging trends in the industry (globally and in India)?
In the future, the progress in tooling will be driven by digital networking and classical machining technology. New tools with even better performance, an extended range of services and extended tool life contribute significantly to the optimization of machining processes. On the other hand, thanks to digital networking over the whole tooling life cycle it will be possible to use and manage the tools available in the best possible way, for example regrinding.
Cutting processes need to become more intelligent in future and be able to deliver for example information about when the next regrinding is necessary or whether a tool may break. This information can then be evaluated within an integrated tool management system and make a permanent contribution to optimizing the whole production system.
Are there any new products that you are launching at IMTEX?
Our highly acclaimed GARANT Master tool family are enriched with new innovative additions of Master Tap, Master TM and Master Titan. Master Tap and Master TM are high performing solutions for threading (tapping & thread milling). With these two warhorses, we
offer the customer very versatile threading tools which are universally suitable for most of the materials. Customer advantage – high performing tools with less inventory. Master Titan, as the name indicates, is the best of its kind for milling in Titanium. With a solid carbide tool for every milling application, Master Titan is the ultimate choice for highest cutting parameters with excellent tool life.
In rough milling it is “The Q” that matters (Q = Material Removal Rate) and Power Q from Garant does just that. With its robust inserts in different sizes, geometries & grades and wide range of milling cutters, Power Q achieves the highest possible feed per tooth with excellent tool life.
Defying all the conventional methods, Garant offers the revolutionary Parabolic Performance Cutting (PPC) solid carbide tools for free form finish milling applications. Compared to the stepover (ae) of conventional ball nose cutters which are traditionally used for finish milling, PPC milling cutters offers 9 times higher stepover (ae) without compromising on the scallop height. This absolutely revolutionary PPC strategy from Garant creates the best surface finish possible on the machine and naturally reduces the cycle time drastically.