Member Spotlight: Güdel Inc.

If there’s one thing a 21st century manufacturer understands its pressure.

In a world where global communication occurs in the blink of an eye and consumer access to information is greater than ever, employers face considerable pressure to constantly increase both quality and turnaround time. One company familiar with this new challenge of continuous improvement is Güdel Inc., a Switzerland-based manufacturer that has called Ann Arbor its American home since 1995.

“Time is the #1 challenge in our industry,” says Joe Campbell, vice president of sales and marketing for Güdel US. “The entire manufacturing cycle is being compressed. Product life cycles are shorter and the breadth of products being offered is wider.”

The consequences of this changing style are many: product designers must deliver new designs in less time, facilities must update their equipment at a faster rate, managers must reach full production in less time and equipment suppliers like Güdel face shortened delivery times. The struggle to meet demand is real — projects that used to take 22 weeks are now completed in 16, yet customers want it in 12.

“In the industrial sector, there is no substitute for one-on-one communication to understand customer needs and today’s consumer is more involved in the step-by-step creation of a product,” Campbell says. “Being a manufacturing leader in this type of environment requires a special kind of skill set. You need to be willing to listen, dig beneath the surface of customer reviews and seek out what they really need and what your company can really provide.”

A global manufacturer of robotic automation products, systems and services, Güdel has the added pressure to stay on the cutting edge in a field whose advances occur at lightning speed.

“If you’re not moving forward, expanding and improving then you are falling behind,” acknowledges Campbell. “At Güdel we are always seeking ways to safely reduce process times and the investments we are making in Michigan have helped make those improvements possible.”

Güdel’s local investments have allowed the company to slash lead times on most standard products by upwards of 40 percent. In addition to developing relationships with local schools to attack the manufacturing talent challenge head-on, Campbell’s team has also invested in new equipment like the $2.5 million specialized five-axis mill designed to both increase capacity and reduce costs.

“Today’s manufacturer cannot wall themselves off in their facility and think they can meet consumer demand,” Campbell says. “Make it a priority to plan and invest in your future growth, look for ways to expand into new markets, invest in the talent and equipment necessary to speed up your processes and your quality. At the end of the day, your customers will thank you.”

This article appeared in the July 2017 issue of MiMfg Magazine. Read the full issue and find past issues online.