Maschinenfabrik Berthold Hermle Toolmaking past and present: investing in staff as well as machinery
Germany – At the end of the 20th century, European toolmaking underwent a remarkable renaissance, with many small and medium sized firms investing in modern CNC equipment as well as skilled staff. It was a strategy that paid off for a Southern German machining business that trains its own apprentices.
In many ways, the history of toolmakers Herbert Kaut GmbH reflects the development of German machine tool manufacture. First established in 1974 by graduate engineer Herbert Kaut and today employing 75 staff, the company has grown from small beginnings and is now a leading precision engineering specialist. The firm specialises in injection mould tools for thermoplastics, and plastic injection mould parts with fabric inlays, filters, membranes and inserts.
Soon after starting out, Herbert Kaut acquired a Hermle UWF 800 universal milling machine, and a decision to add further capacity resulted in the purchase of two further UFW 700s in 1978 and 1979. The acquisition of a CNC 850 machining centre in 1983 marked the company's foray into CNC technology. This was followed by a further nine machining centres by 1991.
Kaut has been training young recruits since the early days and has already helped more than 50 young people become qualified engineers; roughly half of them have remained with the company after completing their apprenticeship. Jürgen Sauter, master toolmaker and long-time mould making manager, says of the corporate philosophy: "The primary goal in both production areas is technology leadership and we therefore place particular emphasis on highly qualified staff, a modern machine portfolio and well equipped workstations. From brainstorming through design and tool making to full-scale production and service, we try to close any gaps in the relevant process chain with high-quality equipment."