Shop visit German car industry upswing drives mould shop expansion

Editor: Eric Culp

Formenbau Kellermann, one of the few mould houses in Europe to be run by a woman, has officially opened its new production plant in Bavaria. The ceremony was put on hold until a key machine for checking tool quality finally arrived.

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Sabine Kellermann, one of the few women in Europe in charge of a mould shop. She has been leading her family’s Bavarian tool house for nearly a decade.
Sabine Kellermann, one of the few women in Europe in charge of a mould shop. She has been leading her family’s Bavarian tool house for nearly a decade.
(Source: Culp)

It is easy to rest on one’s laurels. In business since the early ’70s and tucked into the rolling, heavily forested hills just south of Nuremburg, Formenbau Kellermann, a German family-owned shop could have done just that: over the past three years it has placed among the top 20 in the German Toolmaker of the Year competition. Run by the Machine Tool Laboratory at Aachen Technical University and the Frauhofer Institute of Production Technology, the contest pits some of the country’s best die and mould shops against one another, so to place in three successive years is already an honour, and reason enough to sit back and relax.

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Preparing for the challenges ahead

Despite such high accolades, Sabine Kellermann, who has been in charge of the business since taking over the shop from her father in 2005, saw the need for a change.

One reason came from demands from the sector responsible for purchasing nearly all of the shop’s moulds, the car industry. “We had to build a 12-tonne tool in a hall with only a 6-tonne crane,” Kellermann said.

Not only did the limitations of the company’s equipment present a challenge for mould construction, it could also place too much physical strain on some of the employees. She noted that not having the right lifting equipment ended up hurting her workers, who were sidelined with injuries to their joints after pushing and pulling around heavy slabs of metal.

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