What a shock: At the turn of the year 2019/2020, an arsonist sets fire to the production halls of Mühlhoff Umformtechnik on the border to the Netherlands. The column of smoke can be seen for miles around and, including the loss of production, the damage is in the high double-digit million euro range. But just six months later, the automotive supplier can get back to work on its large presses: Schuler Service has already repaired two of the four damaged presses, and a new 20,000-kilonewton line from the TSD series is scheduled to start operation in early 2021.
Mühlhoff Managing Director Markus Wermers had only been in office for three months when the fire broke out: “Just a few days later, Schuler Service was with us with nine employees.” Together the decision is made to first repair the machines with 8000 and 13,000 kilonewtons of pressing force, which are only a few years old. To do this, the specialists have to replace the entire electrical and control system and also remove several mechanical parts in order to have the soot and extinguishing water contamination removed by hand in a time-consuming process.
Mühlhoff can send some of the dies to Schuler’s Erfurt location so that part production can continue there on a 16,600-kilonewton press with TwinServo technology. “Other supply companies also stepped in to fill our orders,” recalls Wermers, who currently runs the business from a container in the parking lot because the administration building was also damaged by the blaze. He is grateful to his competitors for being able to continue supplying parts to customers in the automotive industry: “Everyone has helped so that everything can now gradually get back on track.”
However, Mühlhoff Umformtechnik goes even further and also invests in a new press of the TSD series with ServoDirect technology and 20,000 kilonewton press force. The line also features the camera-based die monitoring system “Visual Die Protection” and Schuler’s “IIoT Connector”, which enables numerous other Industry 4.0 functions such as process monitoring or predictive maintenance. “This puts us in an optimal position for the future,” says production and project manager Christian Pennekamp with conviction. Pennekamp has been responsible for the configuration and project planning of complex press systems at Mühlhoff for more than ten years.