Investing in an SBZ 628 XXL machining centre from elumatec has allowed window and door manufacturer Ets Forêt to realign its operations and strategy. For elumatec, it is also the first time one of its new generation of machines has been installed at a French aluminium window manufacturer.
A clever investment
Everyone knows that you need the right tools for the job, and that technical expertise goes hand in hand with the right equipment. But finding the right equipment can be even more important: it can influence and guide a company’s entire strategy, as it did for Ets Forêt Managing Director Gérald Forêt. Commissioning the new elumatec SBZ 628 XXL machining centre for aluminium production was part of a wholesale process revolution and a 360-degree transformation of the entire organisation. Together with Cyril Benoist, Technical Sales Consultant for elumatec machines and services, he sheds light on the background to this decision and the challenges that an investment like this entails.
Founded in 1970, Ets Forêt is based in Lempdes-sur-Allagnon in the Haute-Loire region. Its market position is based on a comprehensive premium range of window construction products made from aluminium, wood and PVC. Gérald Forêt has run Ets Forêt since 1997, and in 2007 the family business invested in a new building for the first time. Further expansion is planned for 2022, once the new machining centre has opened up a new market and the production capabilities have been expanded.
“Investing in the elumatec SBZ 628 XXL means we can finally serve the B2B market as a certified PRO Technal aluminium machining company. We were among the first companies with Technal certification for the B2C market, and once we got that, I set my sights on this reorientation. It allows us to expand and diversify what we offer, and we can also initiate projects in line with our quality and productivity standards, which have always been high”, explains the Managing Director.
The first step towards meeting these expectations was therefore to invest in suitable equipment – and they had to make the right decision. Rather than approaching it one step at a time, Forêt decided to take one giant leap forward. In double-quick time, he invested the impressive sum of 500,000 euros in the elumatec SBZ 628 XXL machining centre and fundamentally restructured the associated logistics.
This is a brave undertaking for an SME with around 20 employees, and Benoist is full of praise: “It takes considerable dynamism and confidence to commit to a new range of services and a new market, and to make that level of investment in equipment.”
He continues: “We worked out alternative technical solutions and regularly discussed ideas in France and at the elumatec headquarters in Germany, where we processed Ets Forêt profiles in the production facilities at the Mühlacker site. The machine’s functional concept and efficiency won Forêt over, but the high-quality machining it offers was just as important. Forêt and his team knew exactly which questions they needed to ask us, so we were able to draw up the specifications very quickly and conduct a constructive and efficient dialogue for both sides.”
From left to right:
Alex Soulier (Production Manager), Gérald Forêt (Managing Director)
Cyril Benoist (Technical Sales Consultant, elumatec France), Yvon Wirz (Managing Director, elumatec France)
Image Copyright: elumatec AG, Mühlacker/Germany
Listening, training, after-sales: it’s all about customer service
In 2020 the SBZ 628 XXL machining centre won the “Product of the Year” award in France. The manufacturer places particular emphasis on ensuring that the customised, modular machine concepts meet customers’ ultra-high requirements and offer the best possible service.
As Benoist confirms, “It’s vital that everything you do revolves around what customers actually need. Not only do we need to know all about our customers’ products and solutions, we also need to understand their goals for the future. At the same time, that means establishing our production strategy in order to best exploit the predicted market share development over the coming years. Which are the target markets? Which production equipment is needed for which quantities? These are the kinds of questions we have to answer.”
Seeing a process of industrial change like this through to its conclusion is worth its weight in gold, and Forêt was able to implement the necessary changes and adjustments using the skills of his in-house Ets Forêt team. “Our design department took charge of it all. They implemented the new organisational paradigm and developed customised solutions for the new growth market, with which we were looking to target the needs of professionals,” he says.
After hiring a machine operator, the staff were instructed in how to use the new equipment. The manufacturer could also call on the tried-and-trusted training provided by elumatec – and once that happened, “Team Forêt was ready to go”, as Benoist puts it. “Everyone quickly got to grips with the system and appreciated the benefits of the new technology. Connecting our eluCad machine control software to the TechDesign version 8.2 software package from system manufacturer Technal also went without a hitch. Commissioning, which included assembly, calibration and configuration of the machine plus technical software and machine training, was complete after five weeks, ahead of Ets Forêt’s schedule.”
Gérald Forêt, Managing Director of Ets Forêt, France
The elumatec machine
And what about the technical aspects? What are the strengths and distinguishing features of the machine? Yvon Wirz, Managing Director of the French elumatec subsidiary, and Cyril Benoist highlight the flexibility and innovative design of the SBZ 628 XXL machining centre in particular. It is equipped with eight machining spindles on a rotating assembly, allowing it to be used for series production, and it is also easy to use for companies that have not previously worked with machining centres of their own.
The SBZ 628 XXL from elumatec
Designed for a long service life, with consistent quality, output and machining even when used intensively, this system is precise, efficient and safe. As Gérald Forêt explains, “The versatility and high adaptability when production requirements vary are other technical advantages of this machining centre. We particularly like how easy it is to program, where the position of the tool spindle does not have to be permanently adjusted to the machining position on the profiles.”
This new system, the first of elumatec’s new generation of machines to be installed in France, underpins the remarkably dynamic growth at Ets Forêt – which is in no small part down to a Managing Director who is fully committed to his decision and the strategic reorientation of the company. It cannot be emphasised enough that the partnership between elumatec and the manufacturer from Haute-Loire is based on a spirit of true cooperation and mutual trust.
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