Arburg's family values extend to customers, innovation

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Photo by Arburg GmbH & Co. KG Today, Arburg's leadership remains "all in the family," with Eugen Hehl (left), Juliane Hehl, Michael Hehl, Renate Keinath as its managing partners.

Arburg GmbH & Co. KG is steadily approaching 95 years in business. The German company, founded by Arthur Hehl in 1923, first got its start making precision instruments for the medical industry before evolving into injection molding machines.

While the Lossburg, Germany-based company has welcomed technological changes that come with each passing decade — in 1979, it was nominated as an IBM pilot company and presented its first injection molding machine with a graphical user interface three years later, for example — one thing has remained constant: Arburg is a family-owned business.

Following Arthur Hehl's leading role in the company's start, Arburg was eventually passed down to his two sons, Karl and Eugen Hehl. In 2005, the third generation was brought into the mix.

Today, Eugen Hehl manages the company as a senior partner alongside his niece, Renate Keinath, and his two children — Juliane Hehl, who handles marketing, and Michael Hehl, a spokesman for the management team who also heads premises development. Keinath, daughter of the late Karl Hehl, leads Arburg's human resources management.

This next generation of family leadership runs a company that now has 2,300 employees at its 1.8 million-square-foot factory in Lossburg as well as an additional 500 employees at its 33 facilities in 25 countries. In 2016, sales figures for Arburg were 636 million euros ($753 million).

Photo by Caroline Seidel A bungee cord is being produced at Fakuma 2017.

"Our brand promise, 'Wir sind da,' puts it in a nutshell. It formulates the values for which Arburg has always stood," Keinath said in an email interview.

"We are uncompromisingly committed to the interests of our customers around the world, employees and partners — everywhere and at all times," she added. "We can be relied upon just like a trusted family member, and this is precisely what our customers all over the world appreciate about us."

For longtime attendees to the Fakuma trade fair in Friedrichshafen, Germany, Arburg will be a familiar presence. The company was one of the first exhibitors and co-founders of the event when show organizer Paul Schall, founder and owner of P.E. Schall GmbH & Co. KG, planned the first Fakuma in 1981.

Schall died in 2016, but his company still organizes the event.

"Fakuma has always been very close to our hearts," Eugen said in an email interview.

"When Paul E. Schall presented his idea of a plastics trade fair at Lake Constance to me for the first time, I was immediately taken with the concept behind the venture," he added.

This year, Arburg has a total of 10 exhibits at the company's stand as well as 10 other machines on display at partner stands, such as the Fraunhofer Institute for Chemical Technology and Campetella Robotic Center srl, Juliane Hehl told Plastics News in an email.

"It was very important for us to not present mere visions, but innovative and specific solutions for practical applications," she added.

And this year will be no different. The company is focusing on "smart" and practical solutions that enable "production-efficient plastic parts manufacturing," Michael Hehl said in an email interview.

"After the success of the Allrounder 1120 H at the K show in 2016, we are now also presenting the Allrounder 920 H with a new design and Gestica control system," he added.

In addition to the injection molding machines, the company is showing its own example of Industry 4.0 designed specifically for the injection molding industry.

"During production of elastic tension straps in different lengths and colors as well as with different end pieces, customer wishes are integrated directly on to the injection molding process," Michael Hehl said.

The "on-demand" application is predestined for cable assembly in the automotive industry, he explained.

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