Pöppelmann underlines the central importance of mouldmaking with the very latest production technology – which also includes wire EDM.
The company was founded by Josef Pöppelmann on his parents’ farm in 1949. 60 years on, Pöppelmann GmbH & Co. KG with its roughly 1,500-strong workforce and production plants in Germany, France and the USA is considered one of the leading suppliers of plastic parts for a huge variety of sectors. The plastics
specialists achieve their high level of customer satisfaction with a huge commitment to quality, the necessary expertise and innovative technologies. A more recent example in the modern machine park is the Mitsubishi Electric FA20-S Advance installed in the mouldmaking department in 2010.
A straightforward cork with a cap bearing the logo still in use today marked the starting point for the wide-ranging product portfolio at Pöppelmann today. The company in Lohne in Lower Saxony develops and manufactures plastic parts in four different business sectors. The KAPSTO sector is mainly concerned with protective elements that Pöppelmann offers in about 3,000 different versions and produces to customer specification if requested. K-TECH stands for industrial plastic injection mouldings used in different industries either as individual parts or complete subassemblies. In its FAMAC sector, the company concentrates on functional components and packaging for the food, cosmetics, pharmaceutical and medical industries, and the products in the TEKU business sector include plastic plant pots for commercial horticulture.
Business growth has been remarkable over the decades. The workforce has increased markedly in recent years, while expansion abroad has also been pursued. “This success is attributable solely to organic growth and not to any takeovers,” Hermann Winner, head of mould-making, stresses. “And this is how we intend to continue to grow.” The varied product range is also a reason why Pöppelmann has come through difficult economic periods unscathed. “This gives our customers the assurance of our reliability even in long-term projects,” Tim Simoneit, who works in marketing, adds.
Pöppelmann naturally aims for high manufacturing depth in its everyday production activities so that all departments can operate flexibly and with a quick response. Hermann Winner sees one continuous theme throughout the process chain. “In all areas, we rely on the very latest technological processes so that we can satisfy customers’ high expectations and be at the forefront of innovation.” This applies as much to elaborate injection moulding, thermoforming and extrusion processes as to high-grade printing methods. Tim Simoneit puts it concisely: “Along with our employees, this expertise is our most important asset.” This is particularly true of complex injection and thermoforming moulds, without which the high quality of our plastic parts would be inconceivable.
This also explains the huge importance of the company’s own mouldmaking department, which in Lohne has a central function for the entire company. 117 employees, including 13 design engineers, are responsible for making sure that the company’s four business sectors are supplied punctually with the necessary moulds for production. “Production usually needs the moulds at short notice because of the high level of daily output,” Winner adds. At the same time, his department ensures that a high standard of quality is upheld. “The tiniest inaccuracies can cause burrs on the finished product.” This degree of precision cannot be achieved with conventional machining.
In view of these tough requirements, wire EDM is one of the central production technologies. High and modern standards apply here as well. When an old wire EDM machine was to be replaced by a new model in 2010, the FA20-S Advance from Mitsubishi Electric made a brilliant impression across the board. “The price/performance ratio was very good and its technical data such as removal rate and machining range were more than sufficient for use in our mouldmaking activities,” Winner recalls. By switching to a wire EDM machine from Mitsubishi Electric, machinists had to learn how to operate a totally new control. However, Stefan Kühling, one of the operators, doesn’t see any problem in this: “The training by the manufacturer beforehand prepared us well for working at the FA20-S Advance.” The machine was thus fully ready for operation immediately after installation. Employees are equally appreciative of customer service, which was always available with advice and practical support in the following months whenever anything cropped up.
Innovative and high-productivity machines are of course only part of the story. The other part is competent and motivated employees. “Like customer satisfaction, employee satisfaction is an important aspect of our company philosophy,” explains Yvonne Brüning, responsible in the personnel department for training. Regular feedback from staff and an extensive programme of further training are permanent fixtures in everyday work activities.
“We attach great importance to employee satisfaction even at the initial training stage,” says Brüning reporting on her sphere of responsibility. It is important in this context that trainees with poorer school-leaving qualifications are given attention and that everyone after initial training is offered a chance to stay
with the company. The good reputation of training is reflected by the numbers of applicants: “We review a good 500 applications each year. At the moment we have 150 trainees, and in 2011 we shall be taking on 53 new ones.” Pöppelmann does not confine itself to the conventional commercial and industrial / technical training professions, as courses of study combining part-time education with on-the-job training are also available. The company also encourages professional further training at schools for technicians and highly skilled staff, for which employees can be exempted from their usual duties.
Motivated and competent staff plus innovative development and production will continue to be the foundation of Pöppelmann’s future business. The expectation of further growth is illustrated not
only by the increase in the workforce, but also by the ongoing diversification of the product range. The plant in the USA is also a good example, as Hermann Winner elucidates: “We have so far only built on about 10,200 m² of the roughly 120,000 m² plant site. So there’s plenty of room for expansion.”
Name and place of business:
Pöppelmann, Lohne, Germany
Number of employees:
Friedrich Kühling, Norbert Nobbe
Pöppelmann GmbH & Co. KG
Bakumer Strasse 73
Tel +49 . 4442 . 962 0
Fax +49 . 4442 . 982 112
info @ poeppelmann.com
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