STUDER declares 2023 a successful fiscal year
February 13, 2024 10:52 am
Despite a globally challenging investment environment, the manufacturer of precision cylindrical grinding machines increased its sales and gained market share in many regions.
This year’s Fritz Studer AG press conference was under the motto the “Sound of STUDER”. “The recently completed fiscal year 2023, notably the year of our 111th anniversary, was extremely successful,” said STUDER’s CEO, Jens Bleher, in front of about 65 journalists from over 20 countries in Steffisburg. Despite the globally challenging investment environment, the manufacturer of precision cylindrical grinding machines was again able to increase its sales. Sales developed positively, especially in key markets like the USA and China. Asia was, as in previous years, the largest single region, followed by Central Europe and North America.
Consistent investments in product development and site infrastructure have paid off. “We have turned our announcements into reality and used the time to improve our market position and strengthen ourselves for the future in the long term,” he said. STUDER was able to gain market share in many regions of the world. Moreover, the new sales record in the Customer Care segment was very pleasing. Bleher took it as a positive sign for the upcoming fiscal year that the order situation developed exceptionally well towards the end of the year.
Although the development of incoming orders was weaker in individual markets, such as Germany, China, and some Asian countries, other parts of the world saw positive results. “We achieved good results in many countries and even posted a new record order intake in some,” said Sandro Bottazzo, CSO at STUDER.
Small and Medium-sized Enterprises Trust in STUDER
Measured by customer segments, the aerospace industry generated the largest increase in new orders. This industry has now overtaken the declining automotive and supplier industry. The “Tool” segment remained below expectations. As in the prior year, the largest individual segment is “precision engineering,” dominated by contract manufacturers. “I am very pleased that small and medium-sized enterprises so highly trust our grinding machines and that this segment remains strategically important for us,” explained Bottazzo. The “mechanical engineering” and “die & mould” segments also maintained their important positions. Additionally, the increasing demand for precision cylindrical grinding machines in the semiconductor industry was very pleasing.
Record in Customer Care
For STUDER, an internationally positioned manufacturer of precision cylindrical grinding machines, maintaining a broad portfolio remained particularly important in 2023. Incoming orders for CNC universal cylindrical grinding machines were very solid. The machine with the highest volume was the S33, followed by the favoritCNC, the S31, the S41, and the favorit. “When it comes to internal cylindrical grinding machines, it was the third-best year for incoming orders in the company’s history for the S131,” said Bottazzo. Orders for the new S100 internal cylindrical grinding machine were also very pleasing and exceeded targets.
Customer Care developed very positively. “Here we were able to set a sales record for the second consecutive year,” said Bottazzo. This applies to all business areas, from maintenance and service to spare parts and overhauls. The development in Eastern Europe, where STUDER now performs service with its skilled personnel in the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland, and Hungary, was particularly satisfactory.
Globally, STUDER participated in about 30 trade shows and open houses. In addition to CIMT in Beijing and EMO in Hanover, the open house at UNITED GRINDING North America was particularly successful. At EMO 2023, STUDER was able to present at one trade show, three automation solutions for the first time in its history with the new insertLoad loader as well as the roboLoad and uniLoad.
Important Developments in Spindles and Automation
In 2023, the focus for STUDER remained on developing and advancing state-of-the-art grinding technologies for the benefit of its customers. The S36 production external cylindrical grinding machine is particularly suitable for components related to e-mobility. “Now our customers can use all spindle variants and automation solutions without restrictions on the S36,” said CTO Daniel Huber. Thanks to the new, powerful grinding spindle with 25 kW (33 hp), it is possible to use particularly wide grinding wheels up to 160 mm (6.3 inches). A new option is high-speed grinding with CBN or diamond grinding wheels. With the fully compatible easyLoad and uniLoad loading systems, customers can highly automate their production with the S36.
Huber was pleased with the success of the new S100 internal cylindrical grinding machine. It has established itself in the entry-level segment for internal grinding, analogous to the favoritCNC in external grinding. Thanks to last year’s development, the S100 now has a new, powerful dressing spindle (Ø 58), which is also planned for further models in the future.
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New Features Announced for C.O.R.E.
A particular focus in development in 2023 was also on C.O.R.E., the revolutionary hardware and software architecture of UNITED GRINDING. “The C.O.R.E. touch operating panel already allows an unprecedented level of intuitive use, and soon there will be a customisable interface, where operators can define and save their workspace,” explained Huber. Data collection, analysis, and new sensors and instruments were also a focus.
The CTO then provided an outlook for the future. “The issue of sustainability continues to be important for us,” he said. The SmartJet® cooling system developed by STUDER, already significantly reduces the need for coolant and energy in the grinding process, setting new industry standards. Huber also sees great potential in the semiconductor industry. Demand for high-performance semiconductors is rising due to e-mobility and photovoltaics. STUDER’s S41 CNC universal cylindrical grinding machine with an in-situ X-ray measuring head sets the standard in wafer manufacturing and has been extremely successful in the market.
“In the long term, only the machine manufacturers who offer intelligent and efficient machines incorporating the latest technology can be successful,” summarised the CTO, reflecting on the extensive development activities over the past year.
STUDER Ensures Competitive Delivery Times
For Operations, Stephan Stoll, COO of STUDER, provided an overview. “The production mix of the machines manufactured has shifted to more complex systems in 2023,” he said. Due to active procurement management and the normalisation of global supply chains, orders were completed on time. Stoll positively assessed the implementation of the joint production strategy within the UNITED GRINDING Group, which provided STUDER with good utilisation.
Key operational projects included investments in automated manufacturing tools, and state-of-the-art test stands. STUDER is one of the few grinding machine manufacturers to produce its high-quality spindles. The expertise for these strategically important machine components was specifically expanded. Comprehensive structural and logistical measures were further invested in Steffisburg and Biel’s internal grinding competence centre for these prerequisites and further growth.
STUDER Connected to the District Heating Network
Sustainability also played a significant role. “Since February 2023, the Steffisburg site has been connected to the local district heating network, thus heating all buildings in an environmentally friendly way,” explained Stoll. Furthermore, the conversion of all buildings to LED lighting is largely complete. Overall, energy consumption and CO2 emissions have significantly decreased.
The COO also gave an outlook for the coming fiscal year. “After the considerable investments of the past years, the redesign of our logistics processes and warehouse infrastructure is now imminent,” said Stoll. The centrepiece of this project is a central logistics hub with a directly connected container warehouse. The higher efficiency of the fully automated warehouse system benefits the entire machine production and the handling of spare parts.
In conclusion, Jens Bleher emphasised the importance of well-trained employees for the technology company. He was very pleased with the recent successes at the prestigious professional championships, SwissSkills. Last year, STUDER apprentices Luis Salzmann (1st place, design engineer EFZ) and Noah Rossel (2nd place, automation engineer EFZ) won the gold and silver medals with outstanding performances. “STUDER is represented for the third time at the WorldSkills. We are very proud of this, which confirms our extensive commitment to vocational training,” said CEO Bleher.