In tool- and mouldmaking, WF Fottner GmbH is firmly established in the premier quality league. Working with a Mitsubishi FA10-S Advance since October 2010, the company based on Mössingen is now capable of carrying out high-precision wire erosion work on its own premises. And this has also had a positive effect on incoming orders at Fottner.
To be and stay successful, you have to invest in forward-looking technologies. Choices in this area have to be properly considered, as the investment has to pay off. This is why Wolfgang Fottner, owner of WF Fottner GmbH, takes a very close look at the available options and suppliers. For his most recent investment, he decided in favour of an FA10-S Advance from Mitsubishi Electric.
“Important for me,” Wolfgang Fottner explains, “is that I can maintain the standard of quality that my customers have come to expect of me. I always want to do the best-possible job and for this I need outstanding machines and staff.” The entrepreneur is impressed by the high cutting accuracy and precisely machined surfaces of the FA10-S Advance. “This clearly sets the machine apart from its rivals,” Fottner confirms. “What’s more, it operates very quickly and reliably.”
Another reason for Wolfgang Fottner’s choice, along with the excellent technology, is Mitsubishi’s exemplary after-sales service. In the first months of machine operation, it’s not the big problems but the little ones that make life difficult. Difficulties that can be quickly solved in a phone call to a knowledgeable service technician. “And,” says a contented Fottner, “at Mitsubishi not only are the service staff available around the clock, but the assistance is always provided quickly and competently – simply brilliant! We’re totally satisfied with the service.”
“We’re totally satisfied with the service!”
Wolfgang Fottner launched his successful business in 1987 in Mössingen, south of Tübingen. Over the years, he has specialised in building precision follow-on composite tools with up to 12 stages and making injection and die-casting moulds.
One of his company’s specialities is injection moulds for small parts with intricate structures. Challenging products such as dialysis and ear, nose & throat components, brackets for dental braces and mass-produced items for automotive component suppliers who expect high quality of design and surface finish are produced with the moulds machined by Fottner. For many of these products, the emphasis is on reliable technical function. Until recently, all the wire EDM tasks were subcontracted to jobshops in the region.
Equipped with their new FA10-S Advance, Wolfgang Fottner’s employees can now carry out high-precision wire EDM work on their own premises. This saves money and creates a high degree of flex-
ibility, which is much appreciated by customers. Since the purchase of the Mitsubishi FA10-S Advance, wire erosion has developed very promisingly and benefited from new orders. The new technology also enables WF Fottner GmbH to explore new fields of business. In micromachining and medical technology, the intricate products have to meet high standards. This is where the high machining quality offered by the Mitsubishi
FA10-S Advance really pays off. However, high-grade machines and outstanding service are only half the battle – all this would be worthless without motivated and skilled staff.
Wolfgang Fottner was quick to appreciate the huge importance of skilled and motivated employees for his firm’s competitiveness. Work at the machines and programming stations in tool- and mouldmaking is particularly demanding. Along with superlative craftsmanship, it calls for a thorough grounding in theory. In his company Fottner therefore only employs skilled tool- and mouldmakers capable of performing the entire sequence of tasks.
Each employee handles each job from start to finish. This means he has to be a work scheduler, programmer and machinist in one. His staff expand their skills by performing all these tasks and in this way acquire a direct relationship with their own products, thus improving quality and productivity. To keep his employees in line with technological advances, they regularly attend training courses.
For employees it is a huge challenge and responsibility to be involved in the entire production process.
It is also highly motivational, and the workforce identifies strongly with the business and also derives plenty of satisfaction from its work. Employees are, after all, more than purely a means of production and a cost factor.
“You’ve got to enjoy your work and you need new tasks and challenges so that you’re always fully alert,” says Wolfgang Fottner. The company reaps the benefits of this approach. The typical indicators of staff satisfaction are high manpower turnover, length of employment and number of days lost due to sickness. At Fottner, manpower turnover has been at zero for the last few years and 50 per cent of staff have been working here for over 20 years. The turnover rate is almost matched by the rate of sick leave, with very few days lost.
Fottner knows that this places very high demands on everyone, but this way of working makes the job truly interesting. It’s these challenges and the holistic approach that he and his team love. And it’s not just the company that profits from this strategy, as his employees’ commitment pays off for them as well. They all drive to work in their own company cars.
Name and place of business:
WF Fottner GmbH, Mössingen,
Number of employees:
Making of injection and die-casting moulds and follow-on composite tools, and machining under subcontract
Injection moulds for small parts with intricate structures
WF Fottner GmbH
Formen- und Werkzeugbau
Im Bärengarten 4
Tel +49 . 7473 . 6401
Fax +49 . 7473 . 24391
info @ fottner-formen.de
WF Fottner GmbH
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