ANNUAL REPORT 2017
FINEBLANKING Technology SEGMENT
In 2017 press production booked the highest orders received in three years. This development is even more satisfactory, given customers' reluctance to invest in the previous year. All the new orders show that Feintool is well positioned on the market. New developments and services will also ensure further, sustainable growth in 2018.
The Fineblanking Technology segment started 2018 with a tailwind. This is due to the brisk new business from the previous year: In 2017, press production booked the most orders received in 3 years. This development is all the more gratifying as customers showed restraint in 2016. This had an impact on financial year 2017, when sales remained stable at 91.4 million.
Long service life and higher performance
The result is attributable to several developments. In recent years, a market consolidation on the customer side has basically reduced the number of potential customers for fineblanking presses. Added to this is the long service life of the systems. Thanks to Feintool's research and development expertise, the new presses have become significantly more powerful. Supported by tool technology, it was possible to increase the number of parts per stroke. As a result, the production systems have become much more efficient and an XFT 2500speed replaces two older production systems today. The good results in 2017 and the large number of orders received testify to Feintool's strong market position. Orders for the XFT2500 speed alone rose by around 50 percent compared to the previous year. This shows that the model has established itself, and the investments in servo technology have paid off.
Good situation worldwide
The European market above all – and Germany in particular – was characterized by a particularly large number of orders received in 2017. Simultaneously, US business performed better than expected and reported an increase in business. This is due, among other things, to modernization at existing customers that have updated their Feintool presses to the latest standard. In Asia, above all China and Korea have developed positively, while business in Japan remained stable at a modest level. This is due to the increasing deindustrialization of Japan. Korea's production capacity remains very strong in comparison; in the growth market of China, industrialization is progressing. The quality requirements of Chinese customers are also increasing with this industrialization. Because the Chinese automobile market has over-capacities in production despite rising sales figures, increasingly more manufacturers are trying to position themselves above their competitors by offering higher quality. In the process, they rely, among other things, on technology solutions from Feintool.
The year 2017 was marked by intensive research and development projects that will be launched on the market beginning in 2018 and ensure further growth. As a result, the segment increased its R&D investments to reach CHF 6.0 million. In order to position itself optimally for the future, the company also modernized its press building in Jona, Switzerland, last year and continued to focus on research cooperation with partners from the scientific community and industry. One example of this is the fineblanking working group in the Machine Tool Laboratory at the German RWTH Aachen Uni-versity. Feintool co-founded the world's first research community for fineblanking in 2016, which grew by four members the following year. The 36 partners in total come from all areas of fineblanking. In the first year, they implemented the research projects "Fineblanking with Tungsten Carbides" and "Study of Edge Feeds" as well as a study on the effects of electromobility on the fineblanking industry.
Feintool has also equipped the Machine Tool Laboratory with a new XFT 2500speed in order to research the use of Industry 4.0, big data and artificial intelligence in fineblanking. The goal is to develop an assistance system that guarantees optimum production. Together with the Jiatong University in Shanghai (China), Feintool has also developed the mobile app FEINrubert, which uses a photo to provide information on the smooth cut portion of a fineblanked component. The app has also been available in China and the Apple App store worldwide since 2017. Feintool has worked with the ETH Zurich to promote a research project on fuel cells and bipolar pallets.
In 2017, the new logistics center near Frankfurt was opened, which will strengthen Feintool's spare parts business. The location will serve customers around the world faster and more reliably thanks to high warehouse availability and optimal logistics processes. The inventory covers 6,000 different articles, and 80 percent of all requested spare parts are available from the warehouse.
In view of all these activities and the orders received so far, the Fineblanking Technology segment expects positive business development of in 2018.