We recently interviewed Bernhard Barth, CFO & Treasurer of Schuler North America, to learn how Schuler leverages cutting-edge, Industry 4.0 technologies to help its customers drive revenue growth.
Schuler North America, headquartered in Canton, Mich., is the North American subsidiary of Schuler Group GmbH. Schuler is a world-leading systems supplier of metal and material forming technology — from the networked press to press shop planning. Schuler has been around for almost 200 years, with over 5,000 employees in more than 40 countries.
Schuler has the largest local service support team in North America. The subsidiary has over 300 employees and eight sales and service facilities. Schuler’s portfolio comprises press systems and press lines, automation, dies, full turnkey solutions, IIoT and digitalization, services, training, modernizations, spare parts, and hydroforming production.
"We are recognized as the market leader for our technical expertise, knowledge transfer, and customizable solutions. Our customer base includes automotive manufacturers and tier suppliers, as well as companies in the forging, household appliances, and electronics industries,” Barth stated. “Our priority is to develop and deliver customer-driven innovations that help our customers become profitable or improve upon their profitability to overcome market challenges. We don't instruct our customers on what they need; we create solutions for their specific, unique needs."
Schuler's customer-centric, tailored process fulfills a great industry need for a turnkey supplier, or one-stop shop. This includes R&D, design, simulation, and prototype support. Automation and digitization is also offered as the industry demands intelligent, intuitive, and simple automated lines.
As a full turnkey supplier, Schuler understands the need for local service support that is available and accessible. Schuler’s qualified technicians and engineers provide local, 24/7 service and support for Schuler technology as well as press systems from other press manufacturers. Various offerings are available for customers — including annual service agreements for full life cycle support throughout the entire life of a customer’s machine. Other offerings include, but are not limited to, spare parts, automation, digital tools for monitoring and preventative maintenance, on-site training and support, retrofits, and optimization.
Schuler’s optimization support can lower production costs and provide economical solutions for manufacturers. "With our optimization support, manufacturers can increase output up to 50%. In terms of production, that can equal one shift," Barth stated.
Servo technology is a common example for optimization support requests. Servo press processes, due to the system’s controls and maintenance seeming complex or overwhelming to some customers, may not be fully optimized at maximum capacity.
"For example, manufacturers will set up a servo press in mechanical press curve mode because their program more than likely originates from a mechanical press," Barth explained. "This means that pendulum mode, specific to servo presses, may not be used at all." Manufacturers will miss the main benefit of slide stroke and forming speed optimization per part production as a direct result — which is higher overall equipment effectiveness, or OEE.
"The point here is efficiency," Barth stressed. "Schuler reinforces the goal of constant motion, not stop-and-go. Our team helps customers increase efficiency by running dies to their maximum capabilities."
Barth shared two customer success stories demonstrating how Schuler lowers production costs and provides economical solutions for their customers.
"One customer was using a servo press in pendulum mode, but not to its full potential. As mentioned before, this is very common. Schuler needed to ensure that the entire line was running at max capacity with no issues. Our trained operators optimized all calculations for the curve, mostly offline with Schuler's DIGISIM software."
Another customer was essentially wasting production time with their servo press’ stroke rate, or spm. "Our optimization support, specific to the die in this case, achieved an increase in efficiency by 38%," he said.
The combination of innovative servo technology, optimization, and service support improved the customer's part quality, die life, and cycle time, and the die could be used at maximum capacity. "Our optimization know-how and quick turnaround times provided an unrivaled value for our customers."
Schuler’s commitment to continuous improvement is a huge focus within the company’s CORE strategy — for which accelerating innovation is a top priority. This includes providing reliable, simple, and customizable solutions and components designed for higher overall equipment effectiveness (OEE). Schuler’s Digital Suite enables manufacturers to incorporate a fully networked press shop, or components of digitalization, for optimized production.
Schuler’s camera-based Visual Die Protection (VDP) system, from Digital Suite, is designed to increase reliability and productivity within the press shop by monitoring production processes. "The system detects foreign bodies within the die such as misplaced tools, die components, or scrap," Barth noted. VDP also detects quality issues, such as burrs and splits on panels, before defects occur.
"The takeaway here is that preventing just one die from damage alone can save manufacturers over $120,000 in costs. VDP is an immediate ROI, stopping presses before damages occur," Barth said. “Other cost savings include eliminating tool repair or replacement costs, avoiding expensive and unplanned downtime, and quality-related rework costs. All cost savings are critical for increasing machine availability and meeting on-time production goals."
Schuler’s VDP is very user-friendly and flexible. Little to no training is required for this technology. There is no hardware movement necessary, and installation, or replacement of the sensors, within the die is quick and easy — even for inexperienced operators. The VDP system is unique in that it is compatible for all press types and most applications, and the system can be retrofitted to any existing press system — be it a Schuler press or a press from any other press manufacturer. VDP is just one example of how Schuler fulfils its company claim of “Forming the Future.”
At Schuler North America, some of the more popular Digital Suite solutions include VDP, Schuler Connect, DIGISIM, and Smart Applications — such as production monitors, press force monitors, cooling analytics, lubrication analytics, and drive analytics. More information about Digital Suite can be found online at https://digitalsuite.schulergroup.com/en/index.html.
Pressing the industry forward
Schuler's impact on the metalworking and material forming industry is substantial. Another portfolio offering, laser blanking technology, is making exciting inroads in increasing quality and efficiency. "Laser blanking technology is expected to change manufacturing standards because of its optimized design and capabilities," Barth reported.
Those capabilities include die-free technology, lower scrap costs, sustainable manufacturing, reduced capital investments, volumetric efficiency, flexible manufacturing, quality, lower costs per part, and competitive production ramp-up — particularly for EV manufacturing.
Schuler is also very involved with battery cell case production for the EV market. Over 800 Schuler impact extrusion presses have been sold worldwide for the production of metal cans, like battery cells. These presses achieve up to 90% material utilization, or more, and are 5 times faster than deep drawing presses.
Schuler recently acquired Sovema Group, an Italian mechanical engineering firm and prominent international supplier of production equipment for quality battery cells. The company builds machines specific to pilot and laboratory projects, and its customer base includes some of the top battery manufacturers from all over the world. Sovema is also the only worldwide supplier of automated turnkey plants for mass production of lead-acid batteries.
The acquisition will position Schuler as a leading systems supplier of battery cell manufacturing solutions for the automotive industry and other applicable industries. "This means our capabilities have expanded even more as we will be able to equip gigafactories with mass production of lithium-ion batteries, which goes hand-in-hand with our focus on sustainable manufacturing and e-mobility," Barth explained. Sovema's St. Louis facility will also help supply Schuler's technological solutions to existing and planned gigafactories within the North American market.
Schuler North America strives to become an even better informational resource for the market through the company’s upcoming seminars and content materials. Schuler wants to ensure they fully prepare customers with the training materials and knowledge transfer tools necessary for success. Schuler’s growth marketing strategy resolves to promote information that is accessible and comprehensible for all professionals — from the advanced technical level for experienced engineers to the high-level overview for new or inexperienced operators. Recent seminars and events that reflect Schuler’s approach include the company’s Laser Blanking Line Seminar with MetalForming Magazine, exhibitions at the Battery Show North America and CAMX, and educational sessions at the Automotive Parts Suppliers Conference (APSC) and CAMX.
Schuler North America (Schuler), headquartered in Canton, Michigan, is the North American
subsidiary of Schuler Group. Schuler offers customized, cutting-edge technology in all areas of
forming—from the networked press to press shop planning. Schuler provides new equipment, spare
parts, and a portfolio of lifecycle services for all press systems—including preventative maintenance,
press shop design and optimization, turnkey installations, retrofits for existing systems, and localized
production and service. Schuler’s best-in-class position in the metalworking and materials industry
serves automotive manufacturers and tier suppliers, as well as home appliance, electronics, forging,
and other various industries.
Schuler North America
7145 Commerce Blvd.
Canton, MI 48187
Phone Number: 734.207.7200
Fax Number: 734.207.7222
Homepage Link: https://www.schulergroup.com/major/us/index.html